“When a person you think looks good the way they are expresses disgust with their appearance, don’t immediately tell them why they are wrong or roll your eyes in disgust at what you perceive as attention seeking behavior.”
I’m taking a break from talking about writing today. There’s something that’s been weighing on my mind, and if I help one person by speaking out about it, then I’ll consider it a job well done.
This is a topic I’ve often felt I couldn’t speak out about because I’ve been told constantly that I can’t. Comments like: “Oh, you’re being ridiculous.” or “Whatever. Look at this skinny bitch, can you believe she’s had eight kids?” have, in a very real way, prevented me from facing the fact that I hate my own body. I’m not allowed to because everyone says I can’t.
I know I have some form of body dysphoria and I don’t see what others see when I look in the mirror. Logically, I know my weight is within the normal range for my height, neither too little nor too much, right at the top of where it’s consider the “ideal” weight range. But, when I look in the mirror, I see big thighs, a huge ass, and a flabby belly, and don’t even get me started on my upper arms.
Granted, the flabby belly comes from having given birth to eight children, two of whom are a set of twins, and having permanent muscle separation that I neither have medical insurance nor money to get fixed. Unless I can get that fixed, my tummy will always be a bit flabby, and I’m getting better about accepting that.
I actually like to workout when I can find time. But that’s been very hard for me this past year for many reasons, and you can tell in my opinion. I’ve just gotten back into it, and I’m happier for it. Those endorphins do all the good things for me. But even when I was working out all the time, I felt like I looked big. Then two Christmases ago, people started talking about how skinny I was, but in a negative way. I felt like I couldn’t win.
To be clear, I don’t starve myself. I can’t. I love food. I sometimes can exercise enough self control to not eat junk and do portion control (that’s when I got “too skinny” according to others), but my lifestyle as a single mom doesn’t lend itself to being able to be super vigilant about my diet most days. I don’t have the money or time, and honestly, I’m a hungry person who can almost always eat. I don’t, but I could.
So, I workout as much as possible to make up for my shit diet days or I get what I consider chunky. Again, logically, if I just look at numbers, I know I’m being crazy, but what I see in the mirror and pictures is someone who looks out of shape.
Another thing to point out, I never think people the same size as me or bigger look heavy or unattractive, this is totally a judgement I turn on myself, not others. I’m screwed up like that.
I’ve been back to working out regularly for about six weeks now, and I do feel better. However, I’m not losing the weight like I have in the past. In fact, I’m pretty sure my butt has gotten bigger, though it is definitely less flab and more muscle. I was looking in the mirror, upset, close to tears, and started thinking that I’m probably too old now, and I just needed to give up on my body ever being good. And I then I had a moment of realization and started thinking…I have to stop doing this to myself. It’s not helping, and how can I expect to get physically healthy when I’m defeating myself mentally before I even start.
I’ve done all this work on myself mentally, learning to love who I am as person and be happy with that, and I completely overlooked the fact that I’m spewing negativity at my physical self which is just as unhealthy.
So I determined that I was going to learn to accept myself where I am physically just like I have mentally. I went and bought shorts in a bigger size so I could stop skulking around in leggings and sweats or sweating my ass off in jeans when it’s summer weather. I took all the shorts that I just knew I could get myself back into if I worked out enough and either threw them in the donation bin or gave them to my oldest daughter. I got rid of all my size small shirts because my boobs are never going to fit back in those and again, my oldest can wear them. And I ordered a high-waisted swimsuit for the summer to hide my belly.
Now, none of this is going to miraculously cure me of my dysphoria or my negativity. Those are things I’m still going to have to work on. I’m going to have to learn not to stand in front of the mirror and pinch the flab on my stomach or slap my thighs and ass to watch them jiggle while I feel disgusted. I have to stop myself from reinforcing the negative, but here’s something we all can do to help people:
When a person you think looks good the way they are expresses disgust with their appearance, don’t immediately tell them why they are wrong or roll your eyes in disgust at what you perceive as attention seeking behavior. Quite often, it’s real to them, and everyone telling them why they’re wrong leads to repressing those feelings and more build up of nasty feelings inside until they hate themselves.
My flabby body is real to me, I can see it, but I’m not going to let it control me anymore. The bigger size of clothing was a hard thing for me, but I can see that I actually look smaller in the bigger clothes when I look in the mirror. I have to learn to live with and love my body where it’s at, but I also need to have my feelings about it respected and not treated as if they’re nothing because I’m not perceived the same way by others.
Putting this post out there scares me, especially because when I’ve tried to talk about it before I’ve been told that, as someone who isn’t considered heavy, I have no right to feel the way I do. However, I know I can’t be alone in this, and I just want others like me to know that I’m here, I get it, and I know that the struggle is real for you, no matter what your physical appearance reflects to others.