By: Amanda Fox
I’m a hypocrite. I’ve told women for years to be happy with their bodies and general appearance. We’re all beautiful as we are. It’s not a matter of being a size, it’s about being healthy and comfortable with your body. When it comes to my own body image, however, none of that matters. I’m never happy with my body or the way I look. Good is never good enough. Slim is never slim enough. Every compliment is a lie.
I’m on the low side of my 40′s. I’m 5’11 and weigh about 165lbs. My body is proportional. Even so, I’m barely within the height/weight range for what a “healthy” woman is which ranges from 140lbs to 170lbs. I’ve been bigger; at least 220lbs at one time and I’ve been much smaller weighing in around 118lbs – fully dressed. Never, have I ever been satisfied no matter where I weighed in.
The day I graduated high school, I weighed 118lbs clothed. I was 29 before I ever reached 150 which triggered an alarm in my brain that I was too big. Over the next three years, I dropped my weight back down to that 118 range. I would have gone lower had it not been for a medical intervention which prompted a prescribed weight gain plan while in a care facility. I gained at least 100lbs in about 1 year. I spent the next year dropping it back down to 145lbs. There was always a legitimate reason for it my mind.
“If I lose a little weight it will help bring my cheekbones back out.” “If I lose just a little more weight, I can get back in the clothes I bought two years ago.” With each weight loss came consequences. My abs looked great, in my mind, but you could see my ribs protruding which was unacceptable. The weight loss trimmed what I thought were areas of “extra padding” but my rear and breasts also paid the price which bothered me as well. There was always an answer for it. I’ll get a boob job and that will fix those and I’ll work out different and get my glutes back in shape. Always an answer, but never really a problem I didn’t create.
It didn’t stop there though. I have blue eyes and good skin, when eating properly, and I always had thick wavy hair. People would say I was attractive, but I never felt that way. The mirror always told me different. If I lightened my hair everything would be better. Maybe an eye job would make them pop more. You can never exfoliate enough, even if you’re rubbing yourself nearly raw. No matter what, everything could always be better.
The sad thing is, that while I was doing all of this, I was doing nothing but making myself look worse and feel worse which prompted the need to change even more. Why? The pursuit of unattainable perfection created nothing more than utter destruction. I continued this pattern until I was 38, never once being satisfied. Not a single hour of any day. For a brief time, I did finally begin to feel good about me. I let my hair grow back out to it’s natural color. I exercised, but not three hours a day until I dropped. I ate what I wanted, as much as I wanted, and my weight hovered around 170. People said I looked good and for once I was believing them. I felt good.
That all changed during a hospital stay. By then, I wasn’t given to looking at myself critically anymore, but a hospital johnnie doesn’t hide much. My nurse came in to check on me and help clean me up which was normal, but she remarked that I looked pregnant. She wasn’t referring to a radiant glow. The orderly with her chuckled, and I did as well to hide my discomfort. It was good natured ribbing, but all I heard was fat. Fat slob. Fat slob laid out on the bed looking like a pig.
As soon as I was released, all I wanted to do was workout. I had to lose the weight. I was too big. Given the medication I was on, my doctors expected me to balloon up to maybe 230lbs over 2 or 3 months. I was holding at 190 though. I couldn’t exercise in the shape I was in, but I could stop eating like I was. I could get by on a salad with croutons, a smattering of cheese and bacon bits. I’d eat a small apple or orange later. Whenever I felt hungry I just drank more water. I knew it was bad for me on so many levels and counterproductive to my treatment, but I could not be fat.
Finally, someone made sense to me. An LPN handling my processing prior to an appointment began asking questions. She told me that if I didn’t start eating and eating right that I would be a fabulously skinny corpse. Even though I thought of myself as fat at 170, I wasn’t. I had to get past thinking that way. I was 40, after-all, and at 40 I earned the right to carry a few extra pounds. I would kill myself just as quick trying to be a size I was 10 or 20 years ago just as fast as what I was being treated for and be even more miserable. It didn’t take root at first, but eventually it did. Mostly because I had a fatalistic view assuming I would die any day anyway and might as well eat whatever I wanted.
I didn’t die. I got measurably better and even when treatment ended, I continued to eat more like a person should. I still have struggles with my body image and I will never say I won’t relapse into my old SOP of lose and gain over and over, but for now, I’m good. Good enough. I still don’t look the way I want to. I’d like to be 20lbs lighter. I’d like my cheekbones back and the nice jawline and even a little more junk in the trunk. The difference is that now, finally, I realize that it all comes at a price and I’m not going to look like I did ten years ago. I’m not that person now. I’m older. Things creak and pop when I move sometimes. A two piece bathing suit is gone the way of the dinosaur. Laugh lines will continue to form and become wrinkles one day.
For now though, I’m okay. I can be 165 or 170, maybe even 180lbs and still be okay – even though I crash myself down to 155 or so now and then. Old habits die hard. All I have to do is remember I am me. I will never stop changing. Changing isn’t bad and I need to listen to what I kept telling every woman I met with negative body image issues year after year – it’s not about a size, it’s about being healthy. Now, I just have to believe it applies to me too. A body image hypocrite to the end.
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