We are, essentially, a complex mixture of social norms, evolution, advertising, biology and self talk. All resulting in how we feel about ourselves and our physical appearance.
Everyone wants to feel attractive, healthy, confident, able and desirable. We want to feel like we are acceptable and admired for the way we look, think and behave. None more than women.
Women carry an extra weight of social scrutiny and I won’t even begin to go into the reasons for this within this short post, But the burden is real and it can be crushing.
Teenage eating disorders are at an all time high. Some even starting as young as 5. Teenage suicide and psychological trauma is climbing, and still we wonder what we can do about it all.
We judge our bodies for every line, every wrinkle, every buldge and every curve; often cruelly and unfairly.
In every support group for chronic illness and health issues there is always a great focus and recognition placed on how our bodies have changed along with our appearance. It feels like another cruel blow given to those who have enough challenges to deal with. It can shatter our fragile belief in our self worth.
When I first started losing control over my body I tried to work harder to get it back. It didn’t work. Any attempt to work out and take multiple supplements only seemed to exacerbate my symptoms and render me more impaired. It was frustrating and heartbreaking.
Steroids and the medications I took to stop my body attacking itself saw my weight rise. Looking back now it was not the weight increase that scared me most but the loss of control I felt overtaking my body. Since then other diseases and medications made me lose weight uncontrollably. It is just as upsetting.
Worse than how my body looked was how awful it felt.
My husband said one day that I have amazing legs, and although he meant it as a compliment at the time, I can remember looking down at my pale and bruised legs and feeling truly angry at them. As I looked down at these pale and disobedient fleshy traitors that are my legs, I felt nothing but anger at how they had abandoned me.
I have long felt betrayed by my body and even embarrassed by its malfunctions. I feel as though I am a prisoner inside it for most of my conscious moments. Like I am two distinct entities. Me and the body I inhabit. Enemies locked in combat.
I would be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t jealous of women who can walk and do things that I can no longer do. So I try to bury it deep and work hard to camouflage this envy.
I remember how much I loved walking. I would walk for miles along beaches and with my dogs. Nothing felt as exhilarating. At the end Of our walks I felt free and at peace. This is no longer the case.
I have watched many documentaries of women who are spreading the word about loving their curvy figures and larger sizes and I have deep admiration for those who realize that they really do have a wonderful friend in a body that works with you, regardless of what size you may be.
They have realized that their bodies are their friends and it makes their lives possible.
That isn’t true for many of us.
Some of us have bodies that malfunction, hurt, disappoint us and are completely unpredictable. Some of us must watch as our bodies abilities leave us, slowly but surely.
Believe me, when you have a painful and disabled body, those years you spent scrutinizing your curves, shape, cellulite and wrinkles seem like such a sad waste of your precious time!
If I had my time again… I would love flabby but working arms, thrill at dimpled and moving legs, adore the stretch marks on a working stomach and worship every scar or blemish that marked my functioning body!
I often wonder whether or not I will ever make a peace with this mortal shell that I now inhabit, and it pains me to admit that I may never truly achieve this. It really does.
I want to be that positive, happy, bubbly person who they love interviewing and making examples of in the media, but I am not her.
I am not that woman.
I am the woman who tries not to think about and dwell on things I can’t change. I am the woman who tries to summon the courage and enthusiasm to get my hair done, my nails done and put some make up on when I can.
I am the woman who tries to avoid talking about my body image in public and avoid mirrors whenever I can.
I have wondered if taking pictures of every part of my body would help me accept it more. The idea of putting it out there. Facing my fears and pain. Naked and real.
Would this help me? I honestly don’t know.
But I am a woman that must work with the body I have now. I am also the woman who has learned to value the person inside far more than I ever did. And I am the person who will spend all my time making sure that that woman is as appreciated and as loved as much as I can.