Category: Body Image

You Can Be Fat and Healthy?

Welcome back to Intuitive Tuesday! Not sure what I am talking about? You can visit my Intuitive Tuesday page to learn more.

intuitive tuesday

Today I want to chat a little bit about something that we all do, or at least I do way more than I would like to admit: Judging others, particularly, judging other people’s bodies. I hate that I do this, but this is HonestlyAngela after all, so I really do need to be honest. Before I get into it though, I want to step back for a second and put all this judgement talk into context for you.

I have been noticing a popular trend within our culture lately. Actually I am not quite sure if it is a trend so much as just an aspect of our culture, which makes it even more sad. I am not quite sure I will be able to articulate what I want to say in a way that will accurately explain it, but here it goes….

This trend is something that has been on my mind for a while, but what really got me thinking about it was something that happened a couple of days ago.

It all started when I noticed the uncomfortable chafing between my legs that I sometimes get from running has been getting significantly worse. This post isn’t about chafing, don’t worry! A quick explanation is that I have bigger thighs, and when I run, they rub, and it can get pretty uncomfortable.

Anyway, I decided to google some simple solutions to my problem so I can fix it before it gets too out of hand. My Google search led me to a site that described how to avoid “chub rub”. “Chub rub” is pretty much just chafing between your thighs that happens when you have big legs and you wear dresses and its hot and well… yeah you get the picture.

The site that I ended up on was some sort of “fat pride” site. No, it wasn’t called that, but it seemed to be glorifying being “overweight”. The website made me feel like I was an outsider in this insider’s club of women that were “fat” and proud of it. I never really realized that this club existed before.

I have written about how I believe that it is important to love your body where it is at in this moment, not where you think it should be. I believe this. I believe it is important to love your body whether you are underweight, or overweight, or somewhere in between. I don’t believe that being healthy means falling within a certain BMI range. To me, health is about living a lifestyle that incorporates habits that will help you live a satisfying and full life both physically and emotionally.

definition of healthy

According to that definition, it is possible to be overweight and healthy, and it is possible to be at what is considered a “healthy weight” and still be unhealthy.

What I didn’t like about that website was the way that it glorified being “fat”. I don’t believe that being overweight is something that needs to be celebrated, just like I don’t believe that being “thin” should be idolized and considered better than the alternatives. I also don’t believe that having big muscles, or a big booty, or large breasts, or whatever else should be idealized, and yet there is constantly something new that we think of as desirable. Usually it is crazy exploited by at least one form of media, and leads to us feeling inferior, or lacking.

Our culture has ingrained the belief so deeply within our mindset that thin=good/healthy, fat=bad/unhealthy. I feel like the website I stumbled across was a way for overweight women to speak out against the idea that thinness is ideal. I just don’t think they realize that they are doing the exact same thing as magazines that exploit thinness, only opposite. They are exploiting and idealizing “fatness”. Your body is your own. I believe you have the right to be the best you that you can be, and you should be able to do that without feeling judged.

I am personally attempting to get past the judgemental mindsets of thin vs. fat and healthy vs. unhealthy. I want to learn to stop judging people altogether for their weight and their bodies. I don’t know other peoples’ stories, and I can’t tell how healthy they are from what they look like.

fat quote

Source

I have personal experience that should teach me that health isn’t something that you can see. I feel like I am the healthiest I have ever been, and yet I am a lot heavier than I used to be. At my thinnest I was crazy unhealthy, both emotionally and physically. Even at what was considered a “healthy weight”, I was struggling with an eating disorder that was controlling my life.

There is nothing wrong with being thin, some people can be thin and perfectly “healthy”. There is nothing wrong with being fat if you are living a “healthy” lifestyle for you, and being completely honest with yourself about it. Everyone is different.

Cultivating a positive body image of ourselves is hard enough without feeling judged by the rest of the world. Do yourself and favour and stop judging others. An added bonus to this is that you will stop assuming that everyone else is judging you.

 

Do you agree with my definition of healthy? 

Black Garbage Bags

Welcome back to Intuitive Tuesday! Not sure what I am talking about? Head on over to the Intuitive Tuesday page to check it out. Let’s get right on into today’s post shall we?

intuitive tuesday

I have four very large garbage bags of old clothes hanging out in my closet. None of the clothes in these garbage bags fit me. They are all too small. These garbage bags don’t even account for all the clothes that I have hanging in my very large walk-in closet that don’t fit me. I have a bit of a problem – I can’t seem to force myself to get rid of all these old clothes.

black garbage bag

 

Source

Over the past couple of years, I have been gradually taking clothes out of my closet that are too-small, and stuffing them into garbage bags. I can’t bring myself to actually donate these clothes, or throw them out, but I figure that if I stuff them into bags, at least that frees up room in my closet, and they are out of sight. Some of these clothes are ten years old. Some of these clothes are from when I was almost ten sizes smaller.

I tell myself that I haven’t gotten rid of these clothes because I am sentimental. This is a tiny bit true. I am sentimental. So many of these clothes hold so many memories, and it is hard to part with them for that reason.  I do have another reason why I haven’t tossed them yet. I keep thinking: “what if I lose weight and start wearing a smaller size again?”. I need to keep all these clothes in case my new and nicer clothes suddenly become too big.

garbage bag quote

Those four, big black garbage bags, are a constant reminder to me of who I used to be. How important it was for me to be small, and thin, and able to fit into the clothes in those bags. They represent my old self, a self that is gone, and yet remains in those bags, one day threatening to return. I tell myself that taking the clothes out of my closet and putting them in those bags is good enough. It is close enough to getting rid of them.

These are the clothes I used to cover my body when I tried so hard to make it perfect. They are what I wore when I spent my time obsessing about what I was going to eat, and when. These are the clothes that I wore while stressing about when my next workout would be, and how many calories I would burn. They are what I wore while spending my life trying to look “better” and shed a few more pounds.

All of those clothes are little pieces of my past self that I have pulled from view, and hidden, but can’t bring myself to part with. Those little pieces are no longer at the forefront of my mind, but they are still there, hiding in secret, just in case I need them.

The other day I lugged all those bags downstairs to my basement, and went through them. I pulled out each individual item of clothing, and weighed the pros and cons of keeping it. I tried on clothes that were ridiculously small. Jeans that I couldn’t even pull up past my thighs. Tops that were so old and out of style and not even expensive to begin with.

I did manage to reduce my four garbage bags down to three. Now I have three big black garbage bags of clothes that are way too small, that I can’t bring myself to get rid of. Just like I have such a hard time parting with the little hope that maybe one day I will be my old size again.

I have discussed it, and I believe it. To truly eat intuitively, you need to accept your body, and learn to love yourself where you are at. If you beat yourself up for your size or shape, you are going to consciously or unconsciously try to improve what you look like, through the way that you eat and/or exercise. It is  hard to eat intuitively when you have the little thought in the back of your head that you should be eating differently, and that your body should look a certain way.

I accept what my body looks like now, but I still have that hidden hope that someday it will be different. That thought is no longer at the forefront of my mind. It is mostly out of sight, but I haven’t quite let it go.

mom swimsuit

Maybe this is because I have these black garbage bags tucked away in my closet, that no one sees except for me. Black garbage bags taking up precious space that I could use for other things. Black garbage bags that hold nothing but …. garbage.

I am mad at myself for keeping these little clothes around as long as I have. I am also proud of myself for reducing those bags from five to four, from four to three. I have to remind myself that this intuitive eating thing is about baby steps. I may not have rid myself from my body image issues entirely at this point, but I have reduced them, and I am working on it.

I want to say that I am going to toss all those garbage bags full of clothes the minute I get this posted, but the truth is I probably won’t. I think I am going to ask Josh to go through them with me, and help me decide what to actually keep. I am going to try to reduce my three garbage bags down to two. Maybe in a few months my two, will become one. I trust that this is what is happening to my body image issues as well. I am slowly tossing them out, and along with all those issues, I hope that eventually my hidden desire to drop a couple sizes will eventually disappear.

It is so great that my mind isn’t ruled by what I think about my body anymore. Thoughts about being thin don’t control me, even if sometimes they are still there. How great would it be if eventually I was able to get rid of them all, just like those silly black garbage bags?

 

 

Do you hang on to old clothes that don’t fit anymore? How come?

How about any hidden desires/hopes that your body will change and look different?

You Don’t have to be a Size (X) to be Pretty

Another Intuitive Tuesday post already?! You betcha! I think these are my favourite posts to write. Most likely because this subject is personal, and close to my heart. Today’s post is no exception. I have a little story to share with you guys today, about body image.

I know that body image doesn’t seem to directly relate to intuitive living, but it actually is so important. I believe that it is very VERY difficult to eat intuitively, with a negative body image. If you are constantly beating yourself up, or aren’t satisfied with what you look like, it is very difficult to allow yourself to eat what you body wants and needs without feeling guilty. It is also difficult to exercise intuitively, and take rest time as needed, when you want to change the way you look. My story today is just a reminder about how our words and what we read, can impact our feelings towards our bodies.

intuitive tuesday

You know how you get those random memories that you know you will always remember? They may not even seem that significant, but they are ingrained in your mind so clearly, even down to some of the smallest details?

I have one of those memories. I think about it from time to time, but I didn’t really understand its significance in my life until recently.

I was in Junior High school. I am guessing I was probably thirteen years old, which would mean that this took place about 15 years ago. I was sitting on the floor in my walk-in closet, all alone, reading a magazine. My closet was my favourite spot to go when I just needed to get away from everyone (read: my family) and spend some time just me. I was reading one of the typical lifestyle magazines geared towards teenagers. I am guessing it was probably Seventeen, because that was my absolute favourite magazine at the time.

I remember turning to an article titled “You Don’t Have to be a Size (X) to be Pretty”. Except the (X) in the title was an actual women’s dress size, and one that I will never ever forget.

I believe the article was about girls who struggled with eating disorders, and were going through recovery. They shared their stories about their past eating habits, and how they were learning to love their new bodies and see them as beautiful. It sounds like it should be an inspiring article for a young and impressionable teenage girl to read, right? Wrong!

The title was fully explained in the article. The point was that you don’t have to be “skinny” to be pretty. What my young thirteen year-old mind got out of it was that you have to be a size (X) to be skinny, and I wanted to be skinny.

I understood the article’s point that beautiful looks different on everyone, and that was fine with me. I just knew I needed to remain below size (X) at all times, so I would remain skinny. After reading that article, I vowed to myself that I would never wear anything over size (X). I would do whatever it took.

I actually remained below the size mentioned in the article until I realized I needed to put on some weight for health reasons. Even after I gained some weight, I avoided buying anything over size (X). If I needed a bigger size, I just wouldn’t purchase the item. I much preferred sizes like small, medium, large, x-large (etc) to dress sizes so I wouldn’t have to face reality. I am sure this story sounds familiar to some of you.

The reason I am sharing this story with you today, is to talk about things that can trigger body image issues. That article that I mentioned was intended to encourage girls to feel beautiful in their own skin, but the size that they mentioned stuck with me throughout my teenage years, and will probably remain engrained somewhere in the back of my head forever.

Mentioning a size, a number on the scale, your measurements, or whatever, may not mean that much to you, but it could mean a ton to someone that overhears.  Comparison and standards are ugly things, that can really affect people, especially those that struggle with body image issues and eating disorders. Even talking calorie counts, calories allowances, or nutritional information can really hurt.

To my perfectionist self, that article said, “It is okay to be over size (X), but it is better to be under it”.

Please be careful what numbers you throw out while chatting with others, posting on social media, or while blogging. You never know what someone else is struggling with and how they will be affected by what you say. It is difficult enough to be bombarded with pictures of other women looking their absolute best, but to have a concrete number to compare yourself with can be really damaging.

To those that struggle with eating disorders, or even just body image issues, I recommend you take responsibility for what you subject your eyes and ears to. If someone consistently makes you feel bad about yourself, don’t spend time with them. If a certain website posts images or text that makes you feel like you need to start dieting, don’t visit it anymore. Even reading how many calories something has can trigger obsessive thoughts. If that is the case, don’t look!

In honour of National Eating Disorders Awareness week in the US, please take the time to consider what you type/say/or even think, and have extra compassion on others in your life that may be struggling. You have no idea what they are really going through.

Also, I just wanted to say that I just ordered a swimsuit online yesterday, that is five sizes bigger than size (X) and I am proud of it! Not because I am bigger, but because I no longer am willing to let a number control my life!

 

Do you consider how what you say/post could affect those struggling with disordered eating or body image issues? Do you think that this is necessary?

If you have struggled with disordered eating, what do you personally find “triggering”? I find restrictive diets (gluten-free, paleo, etc.) triggering. I also have a hard time with calorie counts and personal caloric requirements. I much prefer to listen to my body, and can get carried away when it comes to the number side of how much I should be eating.

My Current Body Image

I have a confession to make in this post, but before I do, I want to fill you in a little bit. I don’t normally like to talk numbers, but today you are going to see a bit more numbers than usual. The reason why I don’t discuss numbers on HonestlyAngela is because I don’t want my content to be “triggering”. If you think that discussing things like how many pounds I have gained, or how many dress sizes I have grown, and how I am dealing with it, will be triggering for you, please stop reading now.

Okay, so confession #1: I have gained about 50 pounds in the last five years (not including what I gained while pregnant). That is pretty significant on my small 5’4″ frame. To put it in perspective I have also gone up 10 dress sizes. I can’t fit into a single item in my old wardrobe except for my socks. My body looks completely different. It hasn’t been easy to adjust to.

skinny with flowerreunion dress

(I would guess there is at least a 40 pound difference between these two pictures)

At my smallest weight, I was crazy restricting my food through dieting, and I was participating in high intensity exercise about 10 hours a week. I had a lot of hormone-related problems, and had to gain weight and cut down on the exercise to get healthy.

I would say about 30 of those 50 pounds were gained to help my hormones get back on track, but they weren’t gained in a healthy way. Most of those pounds were gained through restricting and then binge eating out of guilt because I knew that I shouldn’t be restricting food anymore as I was trying to gain weight.

Ten of those 50 pounds are probably leftover from having a baby. The last 10 pounds were gained from straight-up binge eating that was brought on by dieting and trying to lose weight.

pregnant with eeyore

This post isn’t about my weight gain, it is about body image. I just wanted to share a little bit about what my body has been through in terms of weight, so you know where I am coming from.

At this moment, I don’t love my body. I don’t hate my body, but I don’t love it. I can genuinely say the cheesy, positive, optimistic things like: I love that my body gave birth to my beautiful daughter. I love that my body is healthy and whole. I love that my body can do things like lift weights, and run long distances. I love that my body can train to get better. I love that my body feeds and nourishes my daughter. I love that it can show affection to my husband. I love that my body can provide me with the ability to care for my family, to drive a car, and to clean my house. I love my body’s abilities, but do I actually love my body? Not really.

The thing is, I don’t hate my body either. I used to. As you can see with all the crazy workouts and obsessive dieting that I put it through, I was hard on my body. Now there are certain things about it that I don’t love, but I am learning how to deal with them.

In the past, I was embarrassed about my belly, and the extra weight I was carrying there. I would wear big, oversized clothes. I felt that I needed to hide my stomach, that it wasn’t appropriate to show it off, or to show it at all. I would regularly check myself in the mirror to see if my clothes were pressing against my stomach, to make sure it wasn’t visible. At my lightest weight, I loved showing off my stomach. I only wore clothes that were form fitting and showed how thin I was. When I gained the weight, it became the opposite.

Big, baggy clothes are really unflattering on me. I have a small frame, and am a little bit pear-shaped. Baggy clothes hit my hips, and make me look a lot bigger than I am. I don’t know why I felt I had to hide myself, but I did.  I guess I felt like my body wasn’t deserving enough to be shown, that no one would want to see it. I had flashbacks to my younger days, when I judged big women at the beach who wore skimpy swimsuits. I would think  to myself “those women shouldn’t be wearing that”. Now I felt like the big woman and that I needed to hide myself from the world.

I told you all about hiding my body in past tense, like I am over it. The truth is that I am starting to get over it. I am not over it completely. My husband and mom both gave me a lecture about wearing huge oversized clothes. I didn’t really realize I was hiding until we had this talk, and I have been working on coming out of hiding now. I would say that my body image has improved dramatically over the past few months. I don’t necessarily think I look better than I did a few months ago, but I feel better about myself. I have days where I feel great, and am comfortable wearing tighter fitting clothes. I also have days where I feel not so good and I want to reach for the largest sweater I can find. I think overall the biggest difference lately has been that I don’t care as much about what size and shape I am.

Being skinny and maintaining a certain weight used to be my world. My obsession. I thought about it all the time, and made it a huge priority in my life. Now, I have no idea how much I weigh, and I don’t really care. When I eat too much junk food, I don’t have an anxiety attack, or an emotional break down. I move on and think next time I will pay more attention to my body and what it needs while eating. This is how I know that I am okay with where my body is at now, even if I don’t love it.

My confession #2: I would like to lose a little bit of weight. I feel like I am not at my body’s  natural weight and I would feel better if a lost a few pounds. I am not actively trying to lose weight, and I refuse to. I am still at a healthy weight for my body, and I don’t want to diet ever again. Trying to lose weight in the past only left me unnaturally skinny, obsessed with food, exercising WAY too much, and with a binge eating disorder. In the end it also helped me gain quite a few extra pounds. I am hoping that as I continue to learn to eat intuitively, my body weight will even out to something that is healthy for me. I am learning to be okay with whatever that looks like. I do want to be clear that I am not practicing intuitive eating to lose weight. I am doing it to create a healthier relationship with food and my body.

A blog reader (hi Linda!) asked me awhile ago whether I have gained weight while eating intuitively, and how I have handled it. She asked this question in response to a post that I wrote about giving up food rules and allowing myself to eat whatever I wanted to with no restrictions. I don’t actually know whether or not I have gained weight, as I don’t weigh myself anymore, but my best guess would be that I have maintained my weight. This is  awesome considering that I have eaten pretty much every treat I could find in our house lately. I think that the reason why I haven’t gained weight (if I haven’t) is because I haven’t been binge eating. One of the best things to come out of intuitive eating, and fixing my body image issues, is that I don’t eat uncontrollably anymore. Food has lost its power over me.

I hope that my feelings towards my body shift from being neutral, to extremely positive over the next few months. I would love to LOVE my body, but for now I am happy that I can respect my body and appreciate it for what it is. That I don’t feel like I have to force it to be something different, and that I don’t have the urge to make it something better.

happy angela and lochlyn

I have decided to let me body be, and treat it with the respect that it deserves. Actually, accepting my body as okay, flaws and all, sounds a lot like love, don’t you think?

I am linking up with Amanda at Running with Spoons for some Thinking out Loud action. Make sure you check out the link up!

thinking out loud

 

Do you have a positive, neutral, or negative body image? Does your weight affect it?

Intuitive Tuesday: Respect your Body

These Intuitive Tuesday posts are quickly becoming some of my favourites to write. They help me stay true to intuitive eating and allow me to check in with myself and see where I am at with it.

If you are new around here, Intuitive Tuesday is a little series on HonestlyAngela, where I share on all things living intuitively. Currently I have been discussing the Intuitive Eating principles that are mentioned in the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. If this is something that interests you, I highly suggest you read this book if you haven’t yet. To learn more about the other Intuitive Eating Principles you can click on the links below:

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality
  2. Honor Your Hunger
  3. Make Peace with Food
  4. Challenge the Food Police
  5. Feel Your Fullness
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  7. Cope with Your Emotions without Using Food

Also please note that I am not a Registered Dietrician, or Nutritionist. If you struggle with disordered eating habits, I highly suggest you talk to your doctor. The opinions shared in this post are what I have learned based on personal experience and from reading Intuitive Eating.

intuitive tuesday

Today’s intuitive eating principle is a challenging one, but it is crucial to making this whole intuitive eating thing work. Principle 8 is RESPECT YOUR BODY.

Notice how I didn’t tell you to love your body. If you do, you get extra bonus points, but starting with the easier task of accepting your body and respecting it where it is at in THIS moment (not once you lose five pounds) is where we are going to start.

You may be wondering why respecting our bodies is so necessary to eat intuitively. The reason is that the more we have negative thoughts towards our bodies, the more that little voice inside our head that tells us we need to diet or eat a certain way to be thin gains power. Before we know it we are heeding that voice and starting another diet. It is impossible to eat food impartially, while beating ourselves up about what we look like. We can’t desire to be thinner, yet eat a big bowl of ice cream with no guilt. It doesn’t work that way. In order to eat intuitively and truly listen to your body, you need to let go of what you think you should look like, and respect what you body actually does look like.

I feel like accepting our bodies and learning to respect them feels counter-intuitive to what we have been taught. Our bodies aren’t perfect (sorry, not even your body is perfect), they most likely aren’t exactly where we would like them to be. It feels wrong to say that you are okay with what you look like when you are trying so desperately to look differently. The thing is, beating yourself up for what you look like, doesn’t help anything. Telling yourself you are too big, won’t make you smaller. If anything, all these negative thoughts do the reverse. They force you into yet another diet, or restrictive eating pattern, which as we have discussed before, can actually lead to weight gain.

When you have spent a lifetime beating your body up, how can you learn to respect it? Intuitive Eating recommends lists several ideas that can help you to appreciate the skin you’re in (p. 170-178).

Getting comfortable. In order to feel comfortable in your own skin, start by feeling comfortable in your own clothes. Buy new underwear, a cute and comfortable bra, or replace older clothes that are not fitting quite right. Your clothes shouldn’t simply fit properly, but also be in the style and shape that makes you feel great personally.

 

Change your body assessment tools. We have all read the “ditch the scale” posts. Seriously, I would recommend you do it. I haven’t weighed myself for about 6 months, and I have never been more okay with my weight. Don’t just ditch the scale, but get rid of those skinny jeans you use to “check” your weight. Toss your tape measure. Get rid of whatever you use that makes you feel like you should be a certain size or shape. All of these tools are lying to you!

Quit the Body-Check Game. Jessica over at Absurd She Wrote, recently wrote a beautiful post about body checking. I highly recommend you go and read it. Quitting body checking means to stop judging yourself in the mirror, pinching your stomach to check for extra fat, or quitting whatever else you do to analyze your body. Also, please stop comparing yourself to other women (or men)! You don’t know what another person has been through and what causes them to look a certain way. You can’t compare yourself to them, and you shouldn’t.

Don’t compromise for the “Big Event”. Don’t try to “diet down” and lose weight for that special occasion. I have to admit I was tempted to try to lose weight for my high school reunion, but I didn’t, I bought a new dress that I felt great in instead. I am so glad I made that decision. Losing weight for an event just leads to yo-yo dieting, weight gain, and binge eating afterwards. When the event is over, so is your motivation to keep the weight off.

reunion dress

Stop Body-Bashing. “Every time you focus on your imperfect body parts, it creates more self-consciousness and body worry” (p. 175).Turn your negative self-talk to positive. Instead of thinking “my belly is too bloated and round” think, “my belly gave birth to my perfect daughter”. Instead of “My thighs are chubby”, think “I like my muscular quads”, or “My strong legs allow me to run long distances”.

Don’t engage in “Fat-Talk”. It’s degrading, and disgusting, and downright cruel to not only you, but also everyone that hears you. Please stop, right now.

Respect Body diversity, especially yours. Everyone is different, we didn’t all come from the same mould, and didn’t inherit the same genetics. If you judge yourself for your weight, chances are you are judging other people and vice versa. We don’t know other people’s situations and circumstances, who are we to judge? Also, it has been my experience that sometimes the skinniest people are the most crazy, food-obsessed, and gluttonous. Appearances don’t tell the whole story. Practice love, and compassion, towards others, and towards yourself.

Be realistic. Don’t set crazy expectations for your body that require you to be at the gym two hours a day and constantly dieting. We don’t all have the genetics to be a natural size 2, and that is okay.

Do nice things for your body. Massages, pedicures, bubble baths, yoga, stretching, whatever makes you feel great. I love using yummy smelling lotions after I get out of the shower. It takes minutes, and makes me feel so much better.

A few other recommendations that have worked for me …

Exercise for performance. Don’t focus on calories burned during a workout, pick a different goal and steer your training towards that. If this is too difficult for you, try taking a break from working out all together. A month or so away from the gym isn’t going to harm you, and you can still get outside and go for a walk if you need to get some movement in. The gym is not always the most positive place for body image.

Take a compliment. When your significant other, or best friend, tells you that you are looking great, believe them. Don’t counter their compliment with something negative, accept it with grace, and say thank you.

Write your body a love letter. This may sound silly, but it helps you focus on what you really love about yourself. You can read mine here.

american eagle dress

I want to share some of my personal experiences and challenges with respecting, and accepting my body, but this post is getting long. Check back for tomorrow’s post, because it is about to get personal!

 

What has helped you learn to respect your body? Pretty much all of the above, but especially positive self-talk, exercising to get stronger (not thinner), and accepting compliments from Josh.

What are some things that “trigger” negative thoughts towards your body? The gym (although this is WAY better for me lately). My job – I work at a clothing store that sells smaller fitting clothes and lots of teeny tiny bikinis.

 

 

 

Describe Your Body

Last week I participated in a study that a friend of mine is doing. She is finishing her masters degree in psychology, and conducting research on how womens’ body image changes after becoming a mother. She is doing the study interview-style, and recorded my answers with some sort of voice-recorder thing-y (technology isn’t my strong point!). It was fun participating in the study and I learned a lot about myself from answering the questions. I was nervous about being recorded at first, but once I got into it it wasn’t so bad at all.

The first question that my friend asked me really threw me off guard. I think it was the hardest question for me to answer of the bunch.

describe your body

“Describe your body”.

I think my face probably turned bright red, and I kind of muttered my answer with some apologies thrown in. I said something along the lines of “Uhh.. I am of average height and… uhhh… average build and…. uhhh… kind of athletic, but not really, and… uhh…”.

You guys! This is not how I want to feel about my body – average, and apologetic! Since I had my baby girl, I have been working on not being mean to my body. Not beating myself up for what I see in the mirror. I am getting pretty good at not calling myself fat, or seeing my reflection and thinking that I need to lose weight. I no longer see my body as something that needs improvement, a project of sorts. Answering this question though, made me realize that I have neglected to learn to love my body. I was seeing my body as neutral, it was there, it was fine. I wasn’t seeing my body as amazing, as a gift, as the wonderful thing that it is.

In today’s culture, at least where I am at in Canada, it seems wrong for a woman to brag about her body. I have heard so many friends complain and talk about what they want to change, but in my circle, I never hear women talk about their bodies and how great they are. I actually think we tend to get a little bit offended when woman go on about themselves. We all have that friend on Facebook that posts selfies of herself wearing small amounts of clothing, to show off how great she looks. She probably doesn’t brag “look how hot my legs are!” but that is what her picture says, and it pisses all the other girls off. I have to admit that it typically pisses me off, but I want to change this.

Now I don’t think we should go around talking about how hot our bodies are, to everyone we meet. I do think that we should be able to speak positively when we are asked about them. I think that our culture has stifled the majority of women from being able to perceive their bodies as attractive and amazingly sexy despite its flaws.

body image quote

I wish I could go back and change my answer that I gave during that interview. Instead I have decided to rewrite my response here. This is how I really see my body and I want to be able to talk about it openly without feeling guilty.

My body is beautiful, sexy and strong. It accepts challenges that I give it and completes them with perseverance and stubborness. It loves hiking, and lifting heavy things, and sweating. It sweats a lot. My body is reliable, and dependable. It is healthy and does what I want it to. It is the body of a mother, and has brought life into this world.

My body is slightly shorter than average. It is as tall as it could possibly be without being taller than my (short) husband. It has long legs which are thick, feminine, and strong. They are slightly bowlegged, and a little dimply. My legs are great at rocking short shorts or dresses. They are also great at running, and carrying me where I need to go.

My body has a vuluptuous, curvy butt that got me a lot of attention in high school. This butt much prefers to wear stretchy pants and leggings, and doesn’t fit the greatest into a tight pair of jeans. Not that it doesn’t look great in jeans though … because it really does.

My body has a short waist, that has become softer and thicker with motherhood. It has soft and enlarged breasts that are used to feed my baby girl. My body has feet that have grown half a size since having a baby. Feet that carry me around the house, that rarely grow tired, and that are almost always moving. My body has arms that are perfect for holding my baby girl. These hardworking arms can clean, and fold laundry, and carry groceries into the house. They can also embrace others, and show people that I care about them. My body’s shoulders are becoming larger and stronger, and one of them stoops a little from scoliosis. Its back also hunches a little bit from bad posture, and as a result of my slightly crooked spine.

My body has been through a lot, and puts up with a lot. It has taken a lot of abuse, and yet it is healthy and functional. I rely on it day to day, and it doesn’t let me down. It isn’t the body of a model, or an accomplished athlete, but it is the perfect body for me, just the way that it is, flaws and all.

 

Are you able to brag about your body? How about just speak about it in a positive way?

Do you think that our culture should be more open to woman talking openly about how beautiful their bodies are?