My body is amazing. It has survived exposure and neglect and yet has never failed me. I’ve never been sick or injured despite flailing myself about all the time over the last 56 years. Literally, flailing this body into the throws of everything – my body remains intact – never broken. I am amazed and humbled and brought joy by my strong, healthy body. I take pleasure in the length of my legs. My torso is short but my legs are long, long, long and I enjoyed jumping hurdles in high school. Feeling the stretch of my legs, taking gymnastics and feeling the agility of my body and how I could make it fly around and over the bars. I lifted weights and my body responded; and when I lifted with discipline my body became strong and I could bench press 150 lbs. Pleasure in my strong body.
Pleasure in my feminine body. My long neck, the D breasts I’ve had since age 14 – yes, I like my breasts. They are big and I like them. Small feet, small toes. Small ankles and wrists. I have a feminine body that is strong.
My body is a gift to me from God. It amazes me. It heals quickly. It responds to exercise quickly. It bends and twists and lifts me up to dance …. And oh I love to dance.
It is the cocoon for my psyche when the world is too much and I wrap myself with my body in a blanket and hide until I feel safe to come out. My body becomes my armor, my shield.
And then sometimes I just see all the flaws. Well, there they are. The flaws. The cellulite, the stretch marks, the bulges, the little ugly things that don’t go away ….and at 56 I don’t care about those things so much anymore. Instead, I am more grateful for this old friend. Yes, my friend, my body. I am grateful.
My mother was fat. She was obese. She had these huge, pendulous breasts that scared me. I thought they were awful looking. We were just three little girls and my mom living together so Mom walked around the house naked often with her pendulous breasts hanging down over fat abdomen; she was at least 150 lbs. overweight with stretch marks and ulcerated veins on her legs. She had a destroyed body and was in her early 30’s. I did not want to look like that. But at age 8 or so I remember being a pudge. Or what my grandmother called being healthy. And that followed me to puberty until my hormones hit and I grew like a bean pole. Then I became thin. Hallelujah. I was thin thin thin. 5’8 and 110 lbs. with a D breast and perky as could be but keep the boys away. Stay away. But I could dress in fashion at last. Then my mother died. Off to group home and foster care. My foster mother cooked up a storm and in school I took up home economics – yep, the days when they taught home ec and I took baking ….I ate everything I cooked. I ballooned up to 155 lbs. in my senior year despite riding my bike back and forth to school 2 miles every day. At a family dinner one night with company over, my foster mother asked, did I want cake for dessert…no I answered, my foster father said ….yes you do, it’s ok just because you’re fat …I went out to the garage and cried.
I was fat for many years on and off after that. I struggled with my weight all my life. Yo-yo girl. 110-160 up and down. Love me hate me. Love me hate me. When I needed to hide, I ate. When I was sad, I ate.
I ate and ate and ate. Food hangovers.
I never felt good about my body at all until I was 40, then better even when I was 50 and I lost weight. I felt lithe, agile, bouncy and it felt good. I felt light on my feet. I felt better in my own skin. I no longer loathed myself. I didn’t starve myself but I watched my calories. I was lazy but I was vain and I had more energy. And then it became a mental thing. So I stayed with it. It agrees with me. I don’t want to go back be being overweight and feeling the rolls of my fat on my breasts as I bend over to tie my shoes. I can’t bear it. I’ve been there and I’m not going back…where you avoid looking in the mirror. I’m not perfect now but I can look in the mirror.
My body image affects my psyche too much.