Body Image Thoughts
I am five feet tall, and I weigh 115 pounds.
I think that for the majority of women out there, they’d roll their eyes and wonder what I have to complain about. In the grand scheme of things- they’re right. I’m alive and I have all my extremities. However, I have about 20 years of experience in hating my body.
I distinctly remember being at a backyard swimming party when I was very young, and noticing that my lower body was a lot bigger than my friends. I was bigger, but I was also shorter. That math didn’t add up for me. While I’ve never been technically obese, I have struggled with weight and body image my entire life. I wish that I could tell you that I’ve battled that demon and won, but as I got in the shower yesterday I saw my naked body in the mirror and wanted to cry.
I have always had an “hourglass” figure, which I appreciate. The weight I carry distributes mostly on my hips and thighs, which I should be grateful for. I am told it’s somewhat desirable to have hips and a butt. Up until my second pregnancy, I had a decent sized chest (32D on average) and I’ve always had curves. But I have never thought I had the good kind.
My legs are very, very short. I am often wearing capris as pants. I would say 2/3 pairs of my jeans are actually capris. I also carry weight in those legs (as mentioned above) and I have the genetic predisposition for cellulite. I also have varicose veins. I have heavy “chicken wing” arms and a small roll on my back under my bra strap and I’m on the edge of some sort of weird double chin/jowl thing that should be illegal.
When I put on a swimsuit and look in the mirror I want to tell you exactly what I see:
-the fat that hangs over my knees and ankles
-the purple veins clustered on the sides of my thighs
-the cellulite that spreads from my butt down to the back of my thighs
-the fat where my thigh gap would be if I’d ever managed to be skinny enough to have one
-the hip rolls that seem to bust over the swimsuit bottoms regardless of the size I wear
-the scar that creates an upside down T on my torso, wrapping its ugly head around my belly button and disfiguring my entire midsection
-the uneven, rippled, bumpy skin from being sewn together in a hurry
-the boobs that I just paid for, still nowhere near what an “ideal” chest would look like.
-”relief society arms” (if you’re in Utah) or that fat that surrounds my bicep and triceps muscles
-the chipmunk cheek fat deposits on my jawline that go nowhere despite the fact that I talk constantly throughout my day
This is normally the time where someone would do some sort of motivational “well guess what my body can do!” section. I’m not going to do that shit. I’m just not. We’re women. We KNOW we make a human, carry it inside us for 9 months and then push it out into the world. We breastfeed, we give LIFE and then, after doing the most selfless thing one human can do for another, we’re left looking like a saggy, wrinkled mess. But hey- social media says you better snap right back to perfection in the first 6 months postpartum!
Maybe it’s mostly genetics with a side of diet and exercise. Maybe like me, as my doctor put it in my medical history “she will always carry lower excess body weight and needs to maintain a healthy diet”. Maybe like me, you aren’t built to have a thigh gap or a booty that rappers write songs about. I honestly don’t know. But what I do know is- women in this day and age have a hateful relationship with their body image. We constantly do things that cause us some sort of pain in the attempt at feeling better about ourselves. Causing pain to feel better? What on earth is that about. But why do I still want to do it?
When I look in the mirror, I do not see a 5’ 115 lb 30 year old mother of two who came back from the brink of death against all odds. I see a fat whale. I see a wrinkly, bumpy, scarred up disgusting mess. I’ve tried “loving” my body. I’ve tried the positivity and the gratitude and all of the things you’re supposed to do to “love the skin you’re in”. But, I don’t a lot of the time.
So that’s depressing AF, right? “Why am I even reading this…” Well, I’m being real. I love being motivational and telling you what you can achieve and all the great things that happen when you decide to change things in your life. I really, truly, love that. But I am also really, really, real. I KNOW I will never have the body of Kylie Jenner. Want to know why? Because I’m not a billionaire with an unlimited plastic surgery fund. Also, I can’t photoshop basically everything in my life. I don’t get cellulite laser treatments with Khloe, I don’t have the money for injections whenever I get a varicose vein, I don’t botox and sculptra and kybella my entire body like I wish I could. Babes, I have news for you. Unless you’re doing ALL OF THOSE THINGS, odds are, you’re going to have spots of your body that won’t behave. Even with all of that, we all know that the girls out there with the perfect bodies we see on the gram are photoshopped.
There are obviously caveats to the paragraph above. You may be genetically blessed without a lot of cellulite. You may be very strict with diet and nutrition and breeze through pregnancies like you’re made for it. But the majority of women out there, I’d confidently say over 98% of them, aren’t like that.
Here’s my next question. Given the completely made up statistic above, if only 2% of the women in the world have “perfect bodies” , let’s ask ourselves “Why?” and also figure out if they’re actually perfect, or if there is photoshop involved on some level. (Digital, chemical, whatever. I’m using “photoshop” as a term for any alteration of the body in person or digitally.) So, why? Why are we all so obsessed with looking like the “ideal” woman? I don’t know what is going on in your brain, but I’ll tell you why for mine.
I’m insecure in my relationships. I remember the first girl my ex husband cheated on me with. She was an airman in the USAF in basic training and tech school with him, and I spent months trying to figure out what she had that I didn’t. I changed the way I did my hair. I bought new clothes. I stopped eating whenever possible and tried to lose the baby weight. So that we’re all on the same page, my son’s dad was cheating on me while I was busy giving birth to our child in a different state. So he’s out there with Miss Air Force from New Jersey while I’m in the hospital fresh off a c-section with a newborn. We all know how we feel when we’re pregnant- and if you haven’t been pregnant, just know that the “glow” isn’t everything you feel. You also feel fat and swollen and disgusting. So there I was. Bringing life to his child. Giving birth by my damn self and he’s out there with some other girl. (Yea- I put that dude on blast and guess how much I don’t care about it. Because I am still undoing the emotional damage he did and it’s 10 years later.) I always wondered why. Even to this day, I have it in my brain that regardless of the man, I will not be enough.
We are constantly bombarded by imagery of things we cannot compete with. If your partner watches porn, regardless of what you think about it, he’s looking at mostly very unrealistic standards of other women. So if you’re out there comparing yourself to the porn star who ingests more cocaine than food, who has every part of her body airbrushed and bleached (yeah.) and nipped and tucked- odds are you’re going to feel like crap about yourself. Same thing for those insanely photoshopped Instagram models. It’s not realistic to compare yourself to that. But here’s the thiiiiing and omg I’m going to probably get some serious shit for this. You go, Instagram model. I accept that I cannot compete with you in the looks department. But girl-
You want to get the injections and the surgeries and do the photoshop to feel beautiful? DO IT.
I’m serious. Go do it.
Do the thing that makes you feel beautiful.
As long as you are being SAFE and HEALTHY, do the thing.
This is not the typical “body positive” sermon over here. Because for a lot of reasons, the new “body positivity” wave is BULLSHIT. You can body-positivity-shame-me into oblivion but I will never love the way my scar looks. It’s a reminder of the worst day of my life. My wrinkly skin and the cellulite are not trophies. They’re not battle scars. They’re gross to me. And I shouldn’t have to love how they look in order to be an empowered woman. I’m okay with not liking them. And you have to be okay with the fact that I’m not okay with my cellulite.
I got some sketchy skin removed from my boobs this year as well as a lift and an augmentation so that they went back to my pre-pregnancy size and general shape. I do not regret a second of it or a dollar spent. I feel like myself again. Not a drained, shriveled old mess like I did before. You can’t body shame me for that, because I’m happier now. I’m doing the “happier with my body” thing that you want me to do.
So if putting some silicone in your boobs, sucking some fat out of your thighs, and injecting hyaluronic acid into your lips makes you feel beautiful, freaking go ahead and do it. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Because that’s what this body image thing is all about. Be safe, make informed decisions, but do what makes you happy.
We see ourselves in a way that others might not see us. What is the most important when it comes to your body image? That YOU like how you look. It should not matter what anyone else thinks. You need to do YOU. You are the only person who you should be worried about impressing. So when it comes to your body image, make yourself happy. Work out, go vegan, get the botox, I don’t care. I support it. Because I support whatever makes you happy.
We need to stop shaming the girls with the boob jobs and the lipo and the lip injections. Stop shaming the girls who airbrush a little bit or a little bit too much on their Instagram pictures. What’s more important? Your opinion? Or the way they feel about what they’re presenting to the world. Because if you want to do something that makes you feel beautiful, I’m going to support that. Because I want YOU to love YOU.
I’m going to be happy with what I see in the mirror. And to me, that’s all I care about. (It’s going to take some work, though. Until then, thank you Photoshop.) Good Lord I’m glad that rant is over.