I have a long history of hating my body.
It started with friends, family, and even strangers comparing me to my beautiful sister. I was constantly told how pretty she was, while I got complimented on my humour. Cool.
Then I took up the reins on creating the comparisons. As a kid, my school was filled with gorgeous light haired, light skin girls, with flowing locks and size 0 jeans. And as a chubby black girl with tangled hair, I couldn’t relate.
I remember one night, as a young teen, I couldn’t sleep. Instead of counting sheep like a normal person, I took an inventory of how I felt about every part of my body.
I started with what I liked: my eyes, and my lips. 2 things.
Then I started the list of things I wished I could change, and I kept on listing until I eventually fell asleep. I think I got to 36.
I hated my appearance so much that I went almost 2 years without looking at my face in a mirror.
The hardest thing was when people around me voiced their disgust with people’s physical traits they didn’t know I shared. I always felt like digging a hole and jumping in.
These days, sometimes I feel great, and sometimes I want to shatter every reflective surface around me. When the world tells you from day one that your value as a woman is tied to your appearance, opting out isn’t easy. But I’m working on it.
If Not Love, Acceptance
My body is covered in scars, cellulite, dark hair, and fat where fat shouldn’t be.
I’ve heard plenty of women proclaim that they’ve learned to love these types of imperfections, but I’m not there. I don’t think I’ll ever love them, but I’ve certainly learned to live with them.
I try not to let what I dislike inform decisions about how I live my life.
The most recent triumph was the wedding dress I picked. I thought for sure I would get something with full back coverage. Because, as an anxious skin picker who usually goes for the back and legs, my back is a MASSIVE insecurity.
Instead, I fell in love with a strapless dress that I felt incredible in!
I would be lying if I told you I didn’t think about if anyone noticed the scars on my back at all, but it certainly didn’t take over the day.
Fuel, Not Punishment
In my worst moments, I use food in a few ways.
- As a punishment for a perceived failure.
- As a kick of dopamine when I’m feeling down.
- As a comfort when I feel alone.
Given past articles, this isn’t a surprise to most of you. And unfortunately, it’s a really common way to look at food.
These days, when I notice it happening, I try to slow down and think about what I’m doing to myself. I’m making myself sick. I’m making myself sluggish. I’m making myself feel more and more out of control.
I’ll be honest, sometimes it take a few days to turn it around, but eventually I start looking at food as a way to get the vital nutrients I need. And of course, as one of life’s beautiful pleasures.
Food is a way to be kind to yourself if you start picking it based on nutrient density rather than ability to provide comfort. Although, I try not to beat myself up if I make a few bad decisions.
I also try to savour what I eat instead of shoveling it my face in an effort to give my body time to tell me when enough is enough. I’m REALLY bad at this, because I’m used to food just being a thing between work, but I’m trying to be more conscious.
As much as I may hate some of the external coating, my body is good for a hell of a lot of things.
I can walk, jump, run, think, and feel. My body provides very few limitations, and I can choose to do just about any activity at any moment.
When I catch myself obsessing over my cellulite riddled thunder thighs, I try to put it in perspective and remember how lucky I am to be fully functioning and disease free.
There are plenty of people in horrendous daily pain, whose bodies’ don’t cooperate. And many of those people would trade places with me in a heartbeat. My dad, for one, suffered from a rare immune disease that almost stole his mobility. So what right do I have to complain about a perfectly healthy body with a few surface-level imperfections?
I try to show my appreciation for my healthy body by taking care of it the best I can. I’ve been regularly working out and trying to find my limits.
Although I’m still pretty weak and flabby, I take time to congratulate myself on the small victories. I’m getting better at triceps push-ups each week. Those things are damn hard!!!
But I’m nowhere near perfect in my journey to self love.
Just the other day I was checking out my progress in the mirror and found a whole new part of my body to hate. Progress is slow and painful, but the most important thing is to keep trying.
If you’ve hit any milestones with how you feel about your body, make sure to let me know in the comments below!
See you next week, but until then, good luck choosing to make life a little better!