Let's chat about body image.
First, let me just start off by saying that I'm sure I'm going to say things wrong. I may say things that make you roll your eyes or close the page, but they are things I need to say.
Let's talk about body image. Shall we?
Growing up, as in from ages 0-25, I was skinny. Really skinny. Commonly-called-a-beanpole skinny. And I get it. This seems like such a silly thing to bring up, right? Well, I'm realizing the more I think about it, how much it has affected me and still does.
From ages 0-18 or so, I was teased for being so thin. I couldn't help my genetics. I was always snacking. I hated being skinny. I was constantly concerned that people thought I had an eating disorder or was using drugs, neither of which I've ever had or done.
Finally, by the time I started college and got a job at the mall, I minded my size less and less. I didn't care that I wore a size 0 or a size 2. I started to like the fact that I could have the appetite of a football player and not have to worry about it. Shout out to that metabolism!
However, certain things stick out in my mind that I'll never forget. I remember someone at school telling me I looked like a scarecrow. Once, I was standing in the hallway outside the mall bathroom waiting on my boyfriend, and a stranger approached me. She said, "When you stand sideways, I can't even see you!"
Then there was a time I was praised for my thigh gap before I even knew that was a thing that not everyone had.
I just always got conflicting messages. Should I love this, or should I change this? WHAT IS THE RIGHT WAY MY BODY SHOULD LOOK?
I should also mention that I've loved magazines and fashion and celebrities since elementary school. By 4th grade, Baywatch was my favorite show. So I get it - I bought into what society has told me since the early years of my life.
You know I've been a wrestling fan since around that same time. I loved those women and knew I wanted nothing more than to look lean and fit and beautiful.
At one point, I remember buying celebrity gossip magazines and pouring over the pages where the magazines scrutinized if certain young women in Hollywood had eating disorders. I just remember always defending those girls and their bodies with "Sometimes people are just naturally thin!" (Obviously with the pressures of show business, the rumors often times turned out to be true, but I was certainly going to defend them as much as I could.)
I got older. Then I got on an anti-depressant. Then my metabolism slowed down.
Suddenly, I was gaining weight. And I was ANGRY. How could my body do this to me? I should've enjoyed being skinny while I had the chance. I became such a critic of my body.
"I hate exercise" became a personality trait for me. I was pissed that I had never needed to exercise and now it felt like my body was betraying me. I did DDP Yoga for 8 weeks (because let's face it, only a wrestler could get me to work out), but as with most things, I missed a couple of days and gave up. More recently, I did barre for almost a year and a half (and quit during the pandemic). I know that exercise is good and necessary - for my body and my mental health, but GEEZ, LOUISE! It's hard to break down all of this.
I feel like when I decided to write this blog post and compile these thoughts in one place, it really started the process of healing for me!
I recently ordered Jess Connolly's newest book - Breaking Free From Body Shame, and I can't wait to read it.
I'm really trying to accept and love THIS body that I have right now. For my 35th birthday in May, I ordered a ring light and did an at-home, self-shot boudoir shoot just for me. Why? Because I'm on a journey of self-acceptance. This is a good body. Currently. As is. It has survived 35 years of life so far!
I'm super thankful that some of this is shifting on social media now, but I definitely still catch myself wishing that I looked a certain way. It'll probably just be a struggle for a while as I navigate that my worth is totally unrelated to a number on a scale, the size jeans I have to buy at Target, or the way a bathing suit looks on me these days. It's been easy, for nearly a decade for me to be self-depreciating about my body and weight.
I just want to encourage you that we can be free - of societal expectations and of our own. It's ok that my 35 year old body doesn't look like my 18 year old body (I'm a grown woman now)!