Blog| The Body Image Game

I haven't liked my body for a long time.

When I was younger, I was too dark. My eyebrows were too wild, I had caps on my teeth, I was gangley.

When I was a pre-teen, I developed breasts too fast, I didn't want to be a girl, I felt awkward in my own body and still didn't know how to tame my hair.

As a teenager, I was still too dark, why wasn't my hair straight, why didn't my body fit the clothes I liked like the other girls, why did boys only see this chubby girl with too big breasts?

I grew up. I slendered out. My legs grew muscles, my arms and thighs gained tattoos, and I learned there were more clothes than just black jeans. But I was still the ugly duckling art kid who stayed inside and didn't know what to do with this body.

And then I got older. I gained weight. I gained health issues. I chopped my hair off in bathrooms because I was so frustrated and still couldn't find clothes that fit my weird shaped body (not quite a pear but more an upside down butternut squash) and I was buying swimsuits with shorts because I had to buy one-pieces too large but the bottoms were too loose. Nothing fit nothing fit nothing fit.

Sometimes it didn't matter. I was making art and making friends and had a boy who loved me no matter what my body looked like and that's what mattered. There were more important things that a little extra weight and wearing too-big clothes.

But there's that feeling. Like thinking a spider is crawling on your arm but you don't see it and there's a panic when the mirror doesn't fit the picture of yourself in your mind. You buy online clothes and they're too small, don't fit right. A cute flowy top looks like an oversized bag on you and you imagine yourself as a Sims character whose creator messed around with everything too much and you're just stick legs attached to a large torso.

I've felt it. I've felt it all. In the age of "you are beautiful as you are" and "all bodies are accepted" there is still yourself to contend with. I don't like my body and I'm not sure if that's okay. I don't want it to be okay, but I'm not sure how else to be okay with it.

It sounds hypocritical, right? That I tout that everyone is beautiful no matter their shape or looks but I hate how my own looks. It is but there's also an awareness to it. I can be beautiful. Sometimes I do like how I look. I want to accept my body and tell myself it doesn't matter and my size doesn't matter, but there's a wall blocking these words from sinking in. It's a matter of reprogramming my brain to accept these things and letting the negative not affect me too much. 

But it's hard. 

Fun fact: I've dreamed of breast reduction surgery since I was younger. Too young. I finally got the courage to ask my doctor and she said she's never been able to successfully get the insurance to pay for it. The dream was crushed and I cried in my car but didn't tell anyone. 

I search natural breast reduction once a month. The only motivation I have to work out is that if I get smaller, I'll reduce the fat in my torso. The center of my body image hate is my breasts. And everyone wants their own bigger. Ironic, huh?

I've had back pain since a pre-teen which has led to intense back spasms around the time of my period. Like debilitating back pain. If I don't catch it soon enough with pain meds, I'm out for the day until they can kick in and I'm having to take a lot. I've almost gone to the ER a few times because it's been so bad. I can't do crunches, or jog, or jumping jacks without it hurting or getting in the way. When I lay on my back to do sit ups, sometimes I can't breathe because of the weight. I've never been able to lay on my stomach to sleep.

Small things that add up. 

Last year I started going to the gym. I finally found the motivation and decided I was going to do something. If I could lose weight, maybe I would be able to persuade the doctors that I needed the surgery because weight loss wasn't going to cut it. And hell, if losing weight did reduce them down, plus plus. I went for 4 months, consistently. I was proud of myself. I lost weight and was eating healthy and getting my depression and anxiety under control. I had goals. 

Then I got mugged in my front yard. A year and a day to this day, in fact. Thanks, Facebook Memories.

It happened in the day time, lunch, on a relatively busy street. Nothing was safe. I stopped leaving the house. Rony had to stand by the door when I came and went or I would have panic attacks. I stayed in bed for a few days at a time, forgot to eat, didn't do anything. I was a mess. I stopped working out. I haven't gone back to the gym since.

After that I got on medication to help with the panic attacks and it was a few months before I could leave properly on my own. The motivation was gone.

And it sucks. It sucks that I was finally ready and then this thing comes out of no where and sidelines you. At the start of the year I was only 138 lbs, which at the time was the heaviest I had ever been. Hence, the working out. I managed to get down to 133. 

This January, I was 148 lbs. 

I'm tired. I'm tired of the struggle and the yo-yo and how hard it is to make any progress. But standing aside and doing nothing is worse. I don't like hating myself. It's not fun, guys. 

I don't like staring in the mirror and thinking "If only so and so was smaller, or thinner, or not how it was, things would be better." 

Me and Rony started eating healthier again. He's full Vegetarian now and I'm kinda one too, but not. I gave up red meat and poultry but still eat fish. His status is more based on morals, mine mostly based on the convenience of not having to make two separate dishes for dinner, but the moral stuff is nice. We've been cooking more and eating less ready-made meals. I learned how to make tofu and that cauliflower can be made into everything.

Seriously, look it up. 

I joined an Aerial Silks class! I've been to two classes, but it's been amazing what I've been able to do already. I flipped upside down and held my body up with only my legs and can almost let go of the silks to climb up higher.

We've been walking dogs 2-3 times a week and I've started attempted to workout at home. We're going to try and walk our own dogs more often and now I have a Fitbit. Yeah, I know. It's serious. 

I'm down to 143 lbs, which is progress. I'm trying to lose more for a health bet thing and still have 4 to go (money is a good motivator).

You get to a point where the hate gets to be exhausting and you say to yourself "Can we not?" I think I've reached that point. I'm never going to be small but I don't think that was ever the issue. I want my body to not be top heavy, to not be in pain, to be able to do things because it doesn't have two giant globes on it. I want the spider to stop crawling on my arm and to say I'm happy with how I am.

Losing weight and getting healthy won't make me flat, but it's a step and any step is better than nothing. Mostly, I'm tired of standing to the side yelling at myself but not doing anything. I can fix that part at least. 

Small steps.

-Sam <3