Everybody has a body image of themselves. Some positive, some negative. This is the story of my body image.
I have always been bigger than my peers. In school, I was the chunky one with the supermodel skinny friends. I had only one other friend that could relate to me and she was super pretty, so most people didn’t look at her body. Me on the other hand, I wasn’t fat, think I was a size 12 in school, but I wasn’t skinny like my size 0-3 friends were either. I always stood out because of my size. I was at the end of a lot of bullying and a couple of times it came to blows because of the bullying. I don’t regret the fights I was in because of it but I do regret that I have to live with the words that were said to cause them. I was called horrible things since I was in 3rd grade. Things that stuck with me, even now.
I have never been huge. The most I ever weighed was 215lbs, a size 22. I had been married for 7 years and was in the very pit of hell. My ex was an alcoholic and was extremely abusive mentally and emotionally. At the 6-7 year mark of our dead marriage, I decided I was losing weight for me. Nobody else but me. I couldn’t have children because of the weight either so what the hell. I was tired of being left out of groups because of him and I wanted to get out of this horrible funk. It took me a year and a half but I had lost down to 147 and a size 8. I had compliments coming at me from everywhere except home. At home I was being accused of everything under the sun but being myself. I didn’t let it slow me down. I enjoyed the new-found freedom of clothes shopping. Didn’t buy a lot but I did buy things I would have never bought before because it’s not plus size. My body image began to look up. I felt better about me. I gained friends that I didn’t need from the weight loss but I saw my skinny friends deal with the same things too. I didn’t love my body but I liked it so much more than ever. To keep from rambling, my marriage fell apart with every pound I lost. I met my husband now and was divorced from my ex asap.
I had my first child and gained 51lbs with my pregnancy. Wasn’t as big as I had ever been but size 18 was close. This time around I had support from my family with the weight loss. I had lost most of it within a few years and was pregnant with our second child. I gained less but still ended up at size 18. Lost weight within a year or so for my back surgery. While waiting on my IV in the pre-op, I find out I’m having our third child. Well, this summer, I decided to lose the weight again. Was doing so well, walking was going great. Since my back was hurt, I had not been able to enjoy much activities. I was going to the beach, I was looking better, feeling better. Then pregnant again.
That leads me to this. I am right at 6 months pregnant. I love my round belly, not so much of the huge breast that I have even before pregnancy, much less now. I do not regret my children under any circumstances. If I ended up as big as a house, I would never regret my children. They are not a part of my body image other than the baby pouch that I wear proudly. But my body image, no matter how much better I felt, was never good enough. I have NEVER said I was pretty, beautiful, or sexy (other than joking). I have never thought of myself in those ways. I might have felt better about myself but it didn’t mean I liked the way I looked. I know beauty is what is inside. In my experience, if you don’t like how something looks on the outside, then you will never get to know the inside. All my life I was called names and I was used by others. I let them because I knew I would never fit into the cliques the way they do. I still don’t trust people because of this. I’ve heard “awe, you have such a pretty face” so often that I could be rich if I had a penny for every one. My failed first marriage didn’t help as an adult. I heard such terrible things and he went out of his way to prove many. My body image, even now is still bruised and healing from his words that he inflicted on me.
I thought about all this last night when I gave someone a compliment. They needed the compliment and made them feel much better. I thought about how much a small compliment or harmful word could change a person’s day. I see myself as a big, plus sized woman trying to walk on eggshells and never think that others might feel the same way I do. When I see them, they do not make me think they are the person that they are telling me they are. Their image of themselves is different from the way I interpret them. Maybe I am too hard on myself and it is something I need to work on. Since meeting my husband now, I have ranged from a size 8 to a size 18. Most of the time I waver between a 14/16. I don’t think those are huge on others and I don’t think they are huge for me. But I do think that society does see that as a reason to not be nice.
No matter the compliment that I may ever receive, I never take it to heart. It’s just words and can mean nothing when it’s not taken seriously. I have three girls that I am trying to raise to not see size, race, gender or anything else that makes us different from each other. I try to teach them that it’s our differences that makes us all special but they do not define who we are. My oldest in first grade and she tells me about the children in her class. She never saw color on a person until children at school made it a big deal to her. She tells them that we are all the same on the inside, just some come with different parts than others. I just hope that I can keep teaching my children the things that I had to learn the hard way.
And I truly hope that I can teach them to never have a bad body image of themselves. That they can love themselves. Never let someone hurt their spirit they way mine had been damaged and can never be repaired.