I don't want to sound like I'm outraged that the media is starting to address these issues at a higher volume and with more perseverance than I've seen in years. No, initially I was so grateful that people were actually voicing concerns about these standards, and loudly, because it seemed it had gone unquestioned for far too long. However, I'm going to admit that I'm really tired of seeing the same stories of outrage at the latest photo-altering gaff that pops up. The articles, like the one noted above, rarely offer any type of action against the predicament, instead just announcing that it did, in fact, occur. And, yes, I understand that this discourse is important in changing attitudes on a topic, especially one as large as body image, but if it's only being seen by the same people how's it actually making a difference?
Ok, so enough of the politics on this topic, because what I really want to say is that while I'm SO sick of seeing these stories AGAIN AND AGAIN, I'm more sick and tired of my own issues with my own body image and the constant nagging I feel my head is filled with these days.
A little bit of history: When I was teen, I was noticeably larger than most of my friends, perhaps not grossly larger, but just enough for there to be some teasing. And while I say this, here, on my blog, my safe place, I honestly never really thought it about it as something I should be ashamed of. I was more voluptuous, with hips and breasts larger than most of the girls I knew, but never so overwhelmed by the thought that it prevented me from having a good time. What's stranger yet, is that the year everyone I knew went off to college and gained the dreaded "freshmen 15," I managed to lose weight by not really changing my habits at all. I felt confidant, lived it up, and made some of the best memories of my life. Weight didn't seem like a constant struggle; in fact, I didn't even notice it.
As I approached my late twenties, however, I noticed a very dramatic change in my mood with each fluctuation in weight. I wasn't as small as I had been (I walked everywhere because I didn't have a car, I began dating my soon-to-be husband, and was definitely less active). The weight seemed to be like a see-saw and I couldn't control it. I was never one to eat large portions, I didn't mind walking, and I was active with my friends. Still. I was getting larger and couldn't deal with it.
It all came to an overwhelming head once I moved up to Chicago and finally got settled in this year. The weeks leading up to the move had been packed with small parties with friends and family sad to see me go. Yes, we indulged with fatty foods, and drank gluttonous amounts of spirits and wine. It was the best week of the summer in Georgia, but also the one that would leave me feeling the worst. I had definitely gained five pounds by the time we arrived, and then suddenly found I couldn't get it off. I gained another five pounds within a couple of months; "winter weight" was what I was told. I could no longer fit into my favorite clothes, I couldn't even look at the scale when the numbers popped up. I was the largest I had ever been. I am the largest I've ever been. I would need to lose at least 25 pounds to be healthy according to BMI charts, and that seems like the hardest thing possible.
And while I feel like this is some never-ending, internal toxic rage, I find that I'm not the only one that battles these issues at this age. I hear women discussing these same feelings rather frequently. Too often, in fact. What's more, I feel shallow and self-involved. Call me a narcissist, even! But I'm not my body. I'm just me with all these thoughts and feelings, as cliche as it sounds.
I'm a frequent at the gym, have signed up for special classes (spin and yoga), started eating smaller portions, kicked up the greens, and started limiting dairy and alcohol consumption. I'm working hard to maintain a healthy weight and a healthy me. I try to convince myself that all I really desire is to be fit -- the key to feeling great, but sometimes that's just not reality. The numbers on the scale will sometimes win even if I know I'm really working muscles I haven't used in years. And that's just something I'll have to continue to work on.