Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Weighing In

I try not to talk about my weight.  I fail more often at this than I succeed, but I try really hard not to talk about my weight or my struggle with body image and self esteem.  I try really hard not to talk about this stuff because I want to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.  I want to inspire other people to have all of the confidence in the world no matter what their shape or size.  I want to prove that we can do anything we set our minds to, even when our minds tend to be the enemy.  I believe in the phrase, "fake it 'till you feel it."  I try really hard to spend my time and energy focused on anything other than my body.  I don't want to promote the weight/appearance obsession of our society.  I want to rebel against the notion that we all have to look a certain way in order to be perfect.   

But, today I am going to break my rule.  Today I'm going to talk about my body and my weight issues.  Why?  Because I want you to know that we all have them.  Not only do I not want to talk about my weight or body, I don't want anyone else to either.  Let's stop the obsession of bodies.  Ours or anyone else's. 

Some people see me as very small.  Other people see me as not-so-small.  And some see me as very out of shape.  What I'm trying to say is that I know how you see me might impact how you take what I'm about to write, but I hope it won't.  I hope you can see what I'm about to write as totally unrelated to my actual body size/type and more about what I see and how I feel.

I obsess over my body.  I have been obsessive over my body for as long as I can remember.  Mostly, I obsess over what I consider to be flaws in my body.  The main "flaw" I obsess over is my belly (but my butt, arms, and chin don't escape that easily, they get the third degree too).  I stare at my body in the mirror at least three times a day.  Willing it to shrink in size.  Sucking in to see what could be (if I had no body fat or organs).  I breath out looking at what is.  I weigh myself daily.  I let that number effect how I feel about myself each morning.  I spend each day feeling either good or bad depending on how tight my pants are.  When I feel fat, I feel unhappy.  That's the ugly truth of it.  How "big" I feel is a huge determining factor of how good I feel. 

I'm not proud of the fact that this is how I feel.  I am actually horrified by it.  I spend a lot of time and energy fighting all of these negative thoughts.  I also spend a lot of energy hiding these thoughts from other people.  Intellectually, I know I'm not fat.  Intellectually, I know that even if I was fat it shouldn't change how I feel about myself.  Intellectually, I know the crazy is all in my head.  Intellectually, I know that I am right where I need to be on the BMI scale and that I am fit and strong and healthy.  Intellectually, I know it's insane for me to hate my body.  I know all of these things.  And that's why it is such a struggle to fight how I feel.  Because most days, I feel pretty terrible about how I look. ***Wait, maybe I'm being too negative here.  I think the more accurate way to put it is that 9 days out of 10 I am hyper aware of the size of my body.  Even if I'm not feeling badly about it, I am feeling something about it.
But here is why I am coming clean with this embarrassing and way-too-personal confession:  I want you to understand that you have no idea how someone feels about themselves just by looking at them.  I want you to know that when you decide to weigh in on their weight, you have cannot imagine the damage you can cause

The other day, I was approached by what I would call a gym acquaintance (you know, that guy who always comes up to talk to you when you're in the middle of a sprint on the treadmill and aren't in the mood to chat at all).  And, he approached me for no other reason than to tell me that I am really filling out now that I'm not in training for a race.  He said "filling out" while motioning to his face/chin and making chipmunk cheeks.  This one unsolicited comment sent me running out of the gym and sobbing in the car, in the shower, and finally on my husband's chest.  I couldn't stop crying over what he said.
A couple of months ago a girl I had always been friendly with spent an excruciatingly long time telling me how much weight I'd gained since she last time she saw me, noting that I really had  put some "meat on my bones."  She went on to say that she barely recognized me since I wasn't skinny anymore.  Her words, no matter how ludicrous, stung like crazy.  They still do. 
And I've had it the other way too.  I've been told before that I looked so skinny I needed to go to the doctor immediately.  I've been told that I really need to eat at least a couple hamburgers.  In my entire adult life, my weight has pretty much fluctuated within ten pounds and the majority of the time it's hanging out between the same four pounds.  Think about what that means.  In just ten pounds (at the very, very most), I go from being called sickly thin to unrecognizably fat.  How can I, someone who already struggles with body image, take anything from that other than I am a total failure at looking "good?"  I'm either too thin or too fat.  How am I supposed to live with that?
Here is the deal: I work very hard at keeping the crazy at bay in my own head.  I work very hard to find the positives in my body and to not really let all those negative thoughts win out.  Some days I'm better at it than others.  But for the most part, I've become good at recognizing an obsessive thought for what it is and trying to move past it.  But, when other people start chiming in and echoing (and in turn, validating) the thoughts I've worked so hard to lock down ("you're too this" or "you're too that"), I have a really hard time not letting the crazy thoughts run wild.  This is why what other people say can be so damaging.
I have no idea why people feel comfortable approaching me to tell me what they think of my body.  I wish they wouldn't.  I really, really wish they wouldn't.  I can only think that it's because we have all become so obsessed with body and weight that we can't think of anything else to talk about.  I truly don't know.  What I do know is that we have to stop.  We have to stop commenting on each other's size and shape because we don't know what is going on in someone's head or with their body.  Who knows why that person has gained or lost ten pounds?  Who knows how they feel about it?  Maybe they are happy with how they look.  Or maybe they are really, really unhappy about how they look.  Either way, it's not really our place to weigh in on it.  Seriously, we give ourselves a hard enough time as it is.  We don't need to hear it from other people.  Please people, STOP WEIGHING IN ON EACH OTHERS WEIGHT.
**This has taken me days to write and I am still having trouble with the thought of publishing it.  No one wants to let the world in on their deep secrets and thoughts.  But, I also feel it's important to put this out there.  I truly don't think that all of the people who have told me this and that about my body meant to hurt me (okay, maybe one or two did).  I think they just didn't know the damage they could cause.  So maybe, just maybe, this little confession will make one person out there stop and think before they comment.  And if that happens, then maybe it's worth exposing myself like this. 

1 comment:

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