I have always struggled with my body image and being confident in my own skin. Since having two children, I have never loved my body more. Being self aware and accepting of my changing skin has not been easy peasy lemon squeezy, rather, it's been depressing, painful and dispiriting.
I don't know when it is ingrained into our heads that we must be thin in order to be pretty, to be accepted, to be smart, but I think it begins to be clobbered and rammed into us at a young age. It’s like we are not worthy if we are not perfect.
I remember spending hours each morning getting ready for school, desiring to be desired. Every strand of hair was crisped and burned in order to have that perfect look. I would plaster my beautiful skin with a thick mask of concealer to shield my imperfections.
Painting on my turquoise blue eyeshadow and synching myself into my size 0 Dorinha Jeans (if you know, you know) that I got as hand-me-downs because my mom was practical and wouldn't get my middle school aged ass a brand new pair (I get it now, mom).
A moment I have not forgotten (I can only assume because it was traumatic for me), was when one of my teachers, a middle aged male, thought it would be a tremendous idea to approach twelve year old me in front of my friends to make an ignorant, misogynistic comment about my bright turquoise eyeshadow. He approached and asked, "Why do you wear such crazy eyeshadow? It really doesn't look good."
I can still see his face in my memory. The way his smirk tilted upwards to the left of his face and how one front tooth crossed over the other. I can hear his raspy voice and his sarcastic laugh. And I can feel how sad I was, the humiliation that I experienced, whether he meant me to have these reactions or not. I felt so uncomfortable.
From then on I felt intimidated by him, and, strangely, wanted to prove myself to him. I wanted his acceptance. Why?! Why the fuck did I care what some archaic male teacher said to me?
I realize better, now, that I cared because all I ever wanted was to be accepted by men (we will get to this in another post). His disgust about my appearance and his negative attention towards me clawed at my abandonment wound and unfolded it just a little more. I needed to prove to him that I am worthy of his respect, approval, and admiration. This has been a repeating cycle of mine until a few years ago.
Men who treated me with no respect were my type. Ignore me, disrespect me, manipulate me, call me names and I would be on my hands and knees begging to be with you.
Abandonment trauma is a bitch!
I never ate. I remember allowing myself to eat 1 banana a day. That's it. Because I thought I was "fat". I was smart, athletic, and funny but the only thing that mattered to me was being pretty and being thin. Nothing else. I starved myself and if I did eat, I would make sure to get sick afterwards.
Examples of comments I would get when I ate:
I wouldn't be eating that if I were you (if you were what?! A woman?)
This will catch up to you as you get older;
Eating all that junk will make you fat;
Wow, you can eat a lot;
Where does it all go?;
You're a bottomless pit;
You can’t eat like that anymore, your skin will start to break out.
Those are just a few examples.
One time, while visiting my great grandma (rest her soul), she went around the living room offering my mom, step-dad and brothers homemade cookies and when she turned to me she said "You don't need one, you're looking a little fat". I was probably 17 years old and 110 pounds (not that it matters).
Since, like, forever, I have always had an unhealthy relationship with food and body image. I was never "good enough". To see my body carry my children, experiencing the hormonal changes, hair loss, weight gain, stretch marks, and so on, has made me so appreciative for everything my body has done for me to support life.
This body has carried me when I refused to eat, when I used drugs, when I drank away my pain, when I allowed uninvited visitors to use it however they saw fit because my self-worth was nonexistent. This body has done everything it can to bring me to where I am today and I am so fucking thankful I can embrace every part of it. I wish I could stand beside my inner child. I wouldn't say anything, I would just let her examine me and marvel in awe of how imperfectly perfect I am.
She would be so fucking excited to know how genuinely happy we will both be with this body.