Tuesday, 24 June 2014

My Body Image Tortures

The first time I remember telling myself my stomach was too fat I was around 10 years old. Unfortunately for me, my brain got sort of stuck there and didn’t move on ever since then. Back in my teenage years I had no idea how common this problem was, I thought it’s just me wanting my stomach to be little bit more flat and the rest of the girls – they all look perfect, so they most probably feel perfect too.

The years of constantly worrying about how my body looks really drained me. And you know what? I realized that as long as I tie my happiness to my waist line, I will never feel good enough. Because there will always be one centimeter more that I could lose, right?

Today we talk a lot about loving our body the way it is, but aren’t we all falling into a trap of looking into the mirror to tell our body “I love you” and ending up planning new exercise routine? Or is it just me?! “Accepting my body? Just like that? No excuses? But here is a little bit I could improve and I should really start exercising again, and fuck sake, have to stop eating sweets!!!” – That’s my typical thought process.

I started paying attention to my body quite early and I still have a long way to go to just relax and enjoy my life without worrisome looks into the mirror. When I was in 4th or 5th grade I had a “diet diary”, when I found it recently I was shocked and thanked myself, that I was never really able to stick to this “food plans” I have been making for myself. Here’s one example of how I used to imagine my perfect food day:

Breakfast: 1 plain toast
Snack: apple
Lunch: whatever they make me eat, no second helpings (my family eats lunch together)
Snack: water
Dinner: tomato cucumber salad

Isn’t it terrifying? It sounds completely sadistic. No teenager should restrict their food this way. If I had continued such “diet” I would most probably end up anorexic. What’s more important, as a young girl I shouldn’t have been worrying about my stomach size!!! I shouldn’t have been thinking about diets and exercising. Kids should be discovering the world, studying, playing with friends, reading mind opening books (or even stupid books! Vespertilio), enjoying their life – not thinking how they look like or what people think about their body.

It makes me sad to think how much time I have wasted thinking about my body, worrying needlessly. Did I mention, I was never really fat? Maybe when I started puberty I got a bit chubby, but I never really crossed my proper body weight!!!

I wish when I was growing up someone would show me, that how I look is the least important thing now. I wish someone would have told me “BEING THIN DOESN’T GIVE YOU POWER”. Self confidence that comes from weight loss is temporary. After initial thrill you’re back to square one.  I wish when I was growing up first and most common compliment wasn’t “oh, you are so pretty, you look so slim”.

Instead, I grew up looking up to my mother who was constantly trying to lose weight after birth of my younger brother. It’s not a story of how angry I am with my mom, not at all. It’s a story of connecting and sympathizing with other women, including my mother. Back in 1996 standards of beauty were not any less harsh and demanding for ladies, even after having a baby. Of course, it’s not only my mother and other women that I knew who had influenced me. Most of all, it was this perfect unrealistic women staring at me from TV and magazines, alternating how I see myself. I haven’t fully realized it until I watched “Killing ussoftly” documentary.

I’m now 23 and I still live with my own double standards. Even today, I like the feeling of no fat around my waist line, but I slowly grow to appreciate my feminine curves and I acknowledge that I’ll have more of them as I age, its nature. Today I look at my legs and I like them the way they are, no thigh gap, I like them to look strong! It’s an improvement! Hope my brain will evolve and allow me to end this body image tortures I’ve been going through for past 13 years.

Talking about it helps, although it’s scary to write about it - I hate admitting my weaknesses! Perhaps if more of us would talk honestly and openly about our body image problems we would realize that in today’s world it’s a universal human experience to doubt if we are beautiful.  I’m still on my way to liberation and official not-giving-a-fuck about size of my body, but I’m getting there!!! 

Every story shared by other women online helps, so maybe… write about your experience too? ;) 

Written by Inanna

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