The Skin I’m In

I'm not a terribly personal blogger. I've gone out on a limb from time-to-time when I post, but it's usually more of a rant than anything productive. Today that is not the case. I've written this post about 10 times, been too critical of it, been too scared to post it, then eventually deleted it every time. It's not like me to be very private about anything. I've always felt that if you had to hide it, something was probably still wrong. Well ladies and gentlemen, something is wrong. 

The issue of weight has presented itself in more forms over the last few weeks than I can even explain. LiLu started an incredible blog of support and community at In It To Gym It. Shine bravely posted many of her thoughts/issues in her own struggle here. I met Sketch and Carissa and heard their incredible stories of battling, losing, and even some days feeling like they've overcome weight issues. Then I started reading a book called, "Good In Bed". Since you probably won't click that link, I'll sum it up for you. Girl is overweight, dates boy for 3 years, they break up. Boy gets job at newspaper and writes article about "Loving a Larger Woman". Cue April crying twice before page 50. When I first read the article he wrote, I was so angry with him. How could he believe that loving a larger woman was some sort of gold pin he deserved for not being shallow? How could he think writing something like this was okay? Then I read it again. I read the last paragraph and I cried. Only, I wasn't angry at him anymore.

Excerpt: "And now that it's over, I don't know where to direct my anger and my sorrow. At a world that made her feel the way she did about her body – no, herself – and whether she was desirable. At C., for not being strong enough to overcome what the world told her. Or at myself, for not loving C. enough to make her believe in herself."

I realize this book is a work of fiction, but I've been there. I've been in a relationship where the man tried to make me see the beautiful things about my body. I'm NOT a big girl. I say I am all the time to protect myself from anyone else saying it first, but I'm not. I'm not thin, nor will I ever be. I'm athletic. I can still skate circles around girls half my size. Many men are still attracted to me. I'm also lucky enough to have friends that tell me I'm gorgeous all the time. This isn't the issue of the outside world. This is MY reflection of weight on ME. 

I grew up watching a mother (who is incredible, so don't you dare judge her for this) lose weight until she weighed 83 pounds. That is not a mis-print. At 83 pounds, she felt fat. I looked at her "feeling fat" and did the math. If 83 feels fat, what does 120, 130, 140 mean? I couldn't skip eating, so I ate and then purged. For years. I struggled with bulimia until I got caught and I only stopped BECAUSE I got caught. No one that has ever TRULY loved me has ever judged me for one minute about my weight. But I do. Every.Single.Day. 

I don't know how to fix this. I'm highly educated (now) about nutrition. I know that eating healthy and exercising is the ONLY way to achieve healthy weight loss and maintenance. I'm fully aware how to do it and that I am capable of it. What I don't understand is why I won't. Why I continually judge myself for not being thin. Why is this the ONE thing I've never gained control of in my life? Why do I look back at pictures when I had 8% body fat and remember EXACTLY how fat I felt when that picture was taken? Why do I let my weight affect everything?

And what scares me even more? Are the young girls I teach to skate at the rink. It doesn't matter if they are 8 or 14. I watch the skinny girls. I watch the athletic girls. I see them compare everything about their figures to one another. I see the "bigger" girls already becoming "funny" to compensate. It makes me sick to my stomach. I'd love to figure out the pattern so I could stop it. I'd love to help my friends feel complete in every body type they have. I'd love to know why, at the end of every day, we are each our own worst critic. 


Evening Sketches said...

I don't know where to begin. Honesty about where we are and the truth about what we say to ourselves is harder than anything else. And to love ourselves wholly? Is that even possible? I hope so. I am ready to heal myself and really love myself, regardless what others think of me. You said this:

"I'm fully aware how to do it and that I am capable of it. What I don't understand is why I won't. Why I continually judge myself for not being thin. Why is this the ONE thing I've never gained control of in my life?"

I understand this feeling so deeply. I feel it and the screwed up part is that I have changed and done the work, but I still don't feel like I'm fully in control. That's what I need to work on. I need to let acceptance and love seep into my skin. I need to feel like I'm in control but to not hold on to that control too tightly. It all feels like this delicate balancing act that I can't quite handle yet.

But I'm working on it. And I'm making really big, important changes. I'm trying. Thank you for showing your skin and thank you for saying the truth, that it is beautiful.

shine said...

Woman. The tears. You know that I love you so much it hurts. We ARE both going to figure this out.

Thank you for posting this. Let's hug it out tonight, mkay?

Losing It said...

All I can say is thank you for putting this up. Not only is it a catharsis for you, but it's also a comfort to me to know that I'm not the only one feeling this way.

Rachel said...

You've said a lot of really important and true things here but the part the Evening Sketches highlighted speaks to me so loudly. I had gastric bypass 3 years ago to try to get control, but I still don't have any measure of it. I still binge eat and hide food and feel disgusting, but eat anyway. I love to be active, but I choose to sit on my ass. I've only just started to understand that even though I lost 80 lbs through surgery, I am holding onto the last 30 lbs because I'm afraid of actually having to be someone other than the big girl.

I read "Good in Bed" a few years ago, and I still count it as one of my favorites. But because it's my fairy tale. I would love to be loved no matter what size I am, but even more so, I would love to love myself. And I feel like that's not possible unless I'm in single-digit pants sizes and can wear a swimsuit without stressing over my thunder thighs and back fat.

I'm trying to feel the motivation from In It To Gym It, but honestly, every post and tweet I read about someone else making good, healthy choices makes me reach for another piece of Easter candy. It seems easier for them, and it makes me feel like a failure in comparison. I'm so proud of you for posting this. You're making me realize that I hold the key to feeling better about myself, no one else, and that breaking my own pattern of bad habits and self-loathing should be my first priority. Thanks.

Jeney Peney said...

You hit it. Hard.

I've struggled with my own body perception for as long as I can remember as well. I even did my senior thesis on body image as it relates to alcohol and liquor advertising.

I never had a diagnosed eating disorder, but I have had disordered eating habits. When I would feel especially fat, I'd work myself out to a point where I was so exhausted and sore I couldn't even use my own arms to get out of bed.

We will all overcome this. We will.

christel42 said...

Wow. Just wow. Let me just say that I've read that book, and loved it. And hated it. Not for what it was, but how it made me feel, and what it made me realize about myself. Let's face it: all women have body-issues of some sort. I don't care who you are, or what size you are, or if you have 3 nipples, or if you obesess about back fat. We ALL have them. I will be 35 next week, and DANG if that didn't creep up on me! I have always struggled with my weight, thought I was "fat", etc. I still do. It fades over time, or maybe you just give up with age. I don't know. I just know, you are not alone, and I praise LiLu for starting up this project to help women empower themselves. Applause!

Graygrrrl said...

Thank you lovely, for this post. I think some of us were talking about this very thing on Easter. I've been a champion for my friends and tried to build/support their positive self-image, but in a way, I think it was all to overlook how poorly I felt about mine. Low self esteem comes in all shapes and sizes. It effects everyone differently and for different reasons. I recently watched some old dance videos from high school and was appalled at how I looked. Here, I thought I was fat/pudgy but I weighed maybe 115 lbs. I've said it a lot recently: "I looked like Dolly Parton on a swivel stick"; yet I felt fat. Gaining 10, 15, 20 pounds since then hasn't helped and now no matter what I do I feel the same way.

Thank you for posting this. I think it's amazing. I'm so thankful to have such great friends who are supportive and it seems like we are all trying to make change at the same time. Built in support group!!! Love ya!

carissa said...

Seriously. I've sat here crying for the last few minutes.. You could have gone into my brain and taken most of it word for work because I can relate so much.

The two times that I've written about weight loss or an eating disorder, I have been weary about doing so because even though I have stopped throwing up and have started eating healthy and working out... there is a part of me that's still sick. Sometimes I find myself STILL obsessing over what I eat, and counting calories...

Fuck, even after losing 100 lbs I look at myself in the mirror and don't like what I see. I mean I'm proud at how far I've come... but I don't know.

I also think my mom has quite a lot to do with my situation. I didn't put it in my blog because she reads it every once in a while and I didn't want her to read it... and I truly DON"T blame her...but I do get really frustrated with her. She had no idea what was going on with me, but her encouragement for me to be thin is exhausting. I got a diet pill with breakfast every morning since I was 14.

Even now that I've lost weight again, it's always the first thing that she mentions. I walk in the door and she wants me to stand back so she can see how much weight I've lost. She pulls out pairs of her pants and makes me try them on to see if we are the same size yet, and then says "you're almost there."

I know she's partly just proud of me for getting healthy the right way.. at least I hope that's her motive.

Regardless, Thanks so much for posting this.. I think there are so many people who can relate, and like i said yesterday... nothing is gonna change if we don't talk about it.

Chris said...

I won't even pretend that it's harder to be the man in the story. For every awkward moment of deciding whether to pretend the weight (and the issue) is not there, or show how much we love who you are, I know that there are days that women (oh, and so many women) dwell oh this, and hate themselves, and berate themselves and try to understand. And we (or at least I) want to understand. We want to help. Because we're men, and you know how we are about feeling helpless. But mostly we want you to know that we love you. As you are. Just like you are. Thanks for posting this.

Brittney said...

I have the same issues.. and have too become the funny one hoping it takes away from how i feel everyone else looks at me! Its not fun and i feel like it controls my life. I too know what to do to fix it but then I dont what gives? Idk its a battle i fight everyday! Thanks for posting this & I just may have to check that book out.

NatalieCottrell said...

I love you. This is exactly why you need to post on a regular basis. This is such a tough issue for most women (I'd even dare to say all, actually), and I can't think of a better person to write about it. Your wonderful, heart-felt style completely does justice to the delicacy of this topic. I can't even express the reaction I have to this post (and all the honest, heart-breaking responses posted by the girls), but suffice to say I won't stop thinking about your words (or theirs) any time soon.

Chicken said...

I think this is a wonderful blog. You're addressing an issue that effects all women. Your mother is a perfect example of all women having a body issue with their size no matter what they actually weigh. I once dated a guy who told me I was the "fat" girlfriend compared to his past girlfriends. My response was to lose weight until all the bones in my body stuck out like knives. Looking back I should've stabbed him with a rib. As the years go by there are still things I am highly unhappy with, but I decide to see my body for what I like about it. I love my legs (up to the knees) I have boobs, and I have small wrists focusing on that takes MY attention off of my ass that I can't even look at in the mirror.

Anonymous said...

as the man in the relationship that April spoke of, I can tell anyone reading that she is not, in fact, fat. she's not big. she's not large.. she's not even medium. what she is, however, is beautiful, hot, even. inside and out. especially inside, but for the sake of this particular post, we'll stick to the out. April is a deceptively graceful and childlike beauty, who tempers innocence with guile. like a moving work of art, she goes about her everyday, never realizing how appealing she really is. seriously, you should see her on a sheet of ice. or on other sheets, for that matter.. let me tell you, fellas, you're missing out. of course, you'd have to make her laugh, first.. making her laugh is key.

April, in front of the whole world, for all of them to see.. you are truly beautiful. you are covered with the fingerprints of God, an unrepeatable spectacle of soft and quiet wonder. you are my scarecrow.. I miss you, most of all.


Laura said...

So, I read your post... and cried. And then I read the comments... and I cried again.

I just wanted to thank you for putting it out there. Maybe now I'll be able to break my own cycle of self criticism. Maybe now we'll all be able to break the cycles of criticism.

I love you. And you're beautiful!

Michele said...

As unfortunate as it is, the struggle to accept the way my body is never goes away. I know I'm skinny and petite, and I know that my athletic thighs will never look like twigs, but I still can't help criticizing those strong thighs when I look in the mirror. I can only hope that we get to a point some day where we celebrate how beautiful we look.

LiLu said...

The only way we're all going to win this game is TOGETHER.

And win it we will.

Beautiful post, lady.

Christie said...

Where do I begin?
Kudos to you for having the courage to post this. Any talk about my weight is a voodoo subject and to just put it all out there is inspiring.
I know that the only way I am going to see myself as beautiful, is not through any mirror, but on the inside. I'm working on it, and as corny as it sounds, there is a light at the end of this tunnel.
I hope you know, you are not alone, but one amongst many who feel the same way.
I think you are beautiful, inside and out. And I am so proud of you for shining light on such a sensitive subject.

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