Northwest Native: On Loving Your Body

Thursday, February 11, 2016

On Loving Your Body

The other day I was scrolling through Instagram and saw multiple bloggers--most all of which I followed on IG months and months ago (pre-blog, for the most part) for giveaway entries and haven't unfollowed--partnering with Target to talk about their swimwear and being confident while wearing it. I absolutely love body positivity, so I went to all of their blogs to check out their posts. A few didn't have an actual post to go with the Instagram photo, and out of the ones that did share a post, this one was hands down my favorite.

Though I don't regularly read Lacey's blog, I continue to follow her on Instagram (I've unfollowed lots of bloggers from my days of entering loop giveaways) because I love her outfits and she seems very real. She also seems very confident, so I never would've expected that she ever struggled with an eating disorder. I've actually read a few blogs about peoples' struggles with eating disorders in the past, and it makes me happy that they all seem to be thriving now (though I'm sure there are tough moments).

I've never had an eating disorder. I've counted calories exactly once in my life, and I kept a record in a Google doc. That was probably about two years ago and lasted for about a week, tops. I've never made myself throw up for any reason. I've never taken a laxative or overexercised. I've often eaten too much, or turned to unhealthy food because I'm bored or sad or just craving it, but I wouldn't say I've actually binged. I'm not trying to gloat or suggest that I'm better than anyone with an eating disorder, I'm trying to preface what I'm about to say about my feelings about my body. I believe that eating disorders and addictions are extremely serious, and anyone who gets through them with or without treatment is an extremely strong individual.

I'm not perfectly happy with my body, even though I want everyone to love their bodies. I want plus size models to keep doing their thing, and maybe some day they'll just be called 'models.' I want 'fat shaming' and 'skinny shaming' and any other kind of body shaming to be a thing of the past. But for some reason, I can't fully embrace it myself. I looked up body dysmorphic disorder, and it's serious. It is obsessive in nature and can negatively impact a person's day to day life. I definitely don't feel that strongly, but sometimes I wonder if what I'm seeing in the mirror is real or imagined.

I found this article and it was so hard to choose just one of the pictures to use for this post. I love all the quotes and the women who shared them. Also, if you search 'body positive' on Pinterest (which is how I found this article) some amazing things come up.

I'm pear-shaped. Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror while wearing jeans and the size of my thighs and even my calves upsets me. I almost said disgusts, but it's not really that far. It just kind of makes me sad and think that I really need to keep up with the gym and eating healthy.

Sometimes I'll stand in front of our closet (the doors are wall-to-wall mirrors) in my pajama shorts before or after doing my mini arm workout with my weights. I'll think that my legs look short and stubby, that my calves and ankles are too close for they're almost cankles but not quite.

And then I'll wear a dress one day and catch a glimpse of myself in the window while I walk toward my apartment on my lunch break and think my calves look insanely long, lean, and toned. The same day, I'll see myself in the bathroom mirror at work and think my upper arm (a problem area for me) looks especially huge.

When I'm in a workout class watching myself in the mirror, I usually feel really good about my body and my size. Maybe because I know I'm doing something good for it?

A few months ago I said to Michael that I felt really good about my body (I'm pretty sure I used the word 'skinny' at the time, but that's not what anyone should strive for--we should strive to feel good about our bodies, not 'skinny') when I saw it reflected in a window while I was walking downtown, but that same day I looked at myself in the mirror in our apartment and was unhappy. He thought maybe we're harder on ourselves when we're on our own turf; that we're more comfortable to pick ourselves apart in our own home.

Are there borders we cross into a body-positive space and a body-negative space? Do I pick apart my body at home and at work because I spend the most time in those places?

Overall, it seems like my view of my body can be extremely distorted or inconsistent. It makes me wonder what my body really looks like. When other people look at me, do they see my best-case scenario or worst-case? I know that people probably aren't even paying much attention. But I'm curious and I don't think there's any way to tell what's real and what isn't without having some magical out-of-body experience.

I'm linking up with Annie and Natalie for Thoughts for Thursday, Amanda for Thinking Out Loud Thursday, and Astleigh for The Pick.

Does your body confidence vary by location or day-to-day?

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  1. My opinion about my body varies day-to-day, but I've never noticed the space around me affecting it. That's a really interesting theory, though..
    When I was in hs I was dating a guy that constantly called himself fat.. but he was skinnier than I was.. so I was super self-conscious and ate as infrequently as I could. I had a very, very bad mental image of myself. But once he was out of my life (and especially once my now-husband came into my life), I began to kick that image and focus on being ok with my size :) Not all people are that lucky, but it always makes me so sad to hear people tear down their bodies; not just because it's hurting them, but because it could be affecting the people around them, too.

  2. I think one thing that a lot of people don't consider a problem is making fun of people for their height. I'm short, not dwarf sized, but I'm not tall and I'm constantly given a hard time about it, teased, laughed at about it, my own mother would constantly say that Sophie would outgrow me and pat me on the head and nobody saw a problem with that, but why is that acceptable but calling someone fat isn't? It's part of body shaming, I'm being made fun of because of my height. I finally just snapped at my mom to stop constantly making fun of me for my height because I don't make fun of her for her weight. That sounds really mean and it was, but I wanted my mom to stop constantly making fun of my lack of height.

    Anyway, I think for the most part my body confidence varies by week, you know, that time of the month, I get down on myself and feel unhappy because I sometimes feel like I could look better (not supermodel), but maybe more toned in some areas. Or sometimes I miss my pre-pregnancy body. Before I was a defined hourglass and after Sophie I'd say I'm leaning more to a pear shape because of how large my hips got after. But at the end of the day I'm far better than I was just two years ago when I met Kyle (I have and still do suffer from eating disorders). and I'm far more confident than I was.

  3. This is why I love your blog. Thank you for talking about things like this and giving your opinion and sharing other bloggers. (Following her now btw) I think we ALL have these same issues. Even the people that we think are perfect don't like their own bodies. It's just so twisted. I've had tons of problems with body image and being unhealthy about it, and while I'm mostly okay with it today, what you just described is totally me every single day. Sometimes I'm like, oh yeah I like good. And then an hour later I'm picking myself apart. Every single day. I even did it this morning when I was getting dressed. I had these thoughts that I wonder what I'm going to look like in a bathing suit 20 years from now and if I'll even be comfortable enough to wear one because it's starting to give me anxiety now at 27. My mind was seriously going so deep into it I was imaging what kind of cover ups I could wear. Like what the heck am I doing lol?? And I'm pretty sure that I even got started thinking about this because I've been following these two bloggers who are in Hawaii and they look amazing. WHY am I even following these people? (going to go unfollow now lol) It's so hard to just come to terms with the body we were dealt with, and that's what I hope to be able to do someday. Like you I have areas that I hate and curse and get upset over not being able to change. I'm actually really impressed with Target for doing this. Bravo to them. And thanks for talking about this. Bets thing I'll read all day, hands down.

  4. Love this!! So ... since having kids I'm not quite as thrilled with the stretchy look (haha), and look back at old pics where I used to think I should lose a few and go DANG, what I wouldn't give for that bod now! I've also noticed I don't care as much as I get older.

  5. I was about 20 pounds thinner and so unhealthy but happier with my body. And it sounds so freaking crazy when I actually write that. I was going through the worst time of my life and food did not matter. Or it was something I could control. I will look at myself and focus on the things I think are not perfect and it is crazy. Size should not matter but why do we do this to ourselves?? I do not know but I am consciously working to love myself!!

  6. I struggle so bad with it. I find myself always asking my husband when I see someone, 'Is my body about her shape?" - I always see people I think is my size or build - he tells me i'm off every time... we see ourselves so differently then everyone else.
    .. why we care so much is beyond me too...but we do. The struggles of being a female in this world doesn't help

  7. such a great post, Mattie. Body shaming whether is people being "too fat" or "too skinny" is not cool. I'm pear shaped like you and often find myself wishing my thighs were smaller like so and so. but that's not the way i'm built. some people don't like my body type and some people wish they had it. no ones right or wrong it's just different.

  8. YES. So thankful that God gave me my shape that I am, and I'm learning to not compare myself with anybody else anymore.

  9. I think we all feel that way at multiple times in our life. You are not alone in your 'distorted' view. I think our journeys with our bodies are personal. For me, I have made peace with my body type. I have thick thighs and I gain weight first in my arms. That's my body. That's okay. Where I do struggle with my body is when I don't treat it well and let it get out of shape. So I'm at least happy with myself for being down on my body about STUFF I CAN CHANGE and don't vs. things I have no control over (like the size of my thighs). Life's too short for that kind of feeling!

  10. I appreciate your honesty, Mattie, especially since everyone has stuff about themselves that they dislike--and don't always talk about. It's so much easier to put the pretty, polished sides of ourselves out there.

  11. This post is so important. I definitely see the worst version of myself in the mirror way too often. Do I want to be healthy? Yes. But isn't being loved and being happy more important? It has to be. I'm working towards it.

  12. In my mid 20s I was twenty pounds lighter than I am now (size 0 or 2) and it was because I was super stressed out about school. But, people used to tell me all the time back then how great I looked and how skinny I was.... And I *loved* it. Then, well, I started working 80 hrs a week for 3 years and gained 20 pounds. I wear a 6 or 8 now and that's fine. I'm pear shaped too. I know I will never be as skinny I was back then, but frankly it was unhealthy and underweight. So long as you stay in your healthy BMI, then you should be happy! And that's what I tell myself. I enjoyed this post!

  13. Oh absolutely. My sister has (and acknowledges she has) body dysmorphia in a big way. She's had it ever since she was a child. I also don't recall any extended period of time in my life where my mom was content with her body, never mind happy. I've been fighting really hard to break that mindset and just be happy with myself, but it's hard when the people around you see nothing wrong with running commentary on your physical appearance. It doesn't matter what the comments are, I really don't need the focus on my physical appearance when I'm trying to minimize its effect on my life.

    One thing I've found really helpful is looking back a decade. I know I used to beat myself up when I was younger, and looking back now I can see how good I actually had it then. I know 10 years from now I'll feel the same way looking back at myself now. If this is going to be a continual theme in my life, why can't I just be happy now?

  14. This is a great post, Mattie! I follow a lot of "fitness" people on IG & I'm guilty of wanting to look like them. Yet I know most of their pictures are where they are in great lighting & flexing every single muscle possible so I KNOW it's not how they really look (yet I can't help it!). I'm kind of the same way as you-- I'll feel really thin & lean one day but then the next day, I'm picking myself apart. I'm still trying to accept being pear-shaped & that I'll never have thin thighs unless I just stop eating all together. I used to be about thirty pounds heavier & I was miserable. I know that I am fearful of gaining that weight back which is why I workout so much. Well, that & the fact that I sit at a desk for 40+ hours a week. I think it's okay to want to be skinny, thin, lean, etc. as long as it's done the healthy way. Sorry, I feel like I have just rambled on! But you definitely made me think about some things that I don't normally talk about! I totally get where you're coming from though & can relate so much!

  15. PREACH!! But really though, YES I am pregnant so I am supposed to gain weight but it still makes me more sad than i should be to see my pudgy belly in the mirror. I am excited to actually look pregnant but this beginning stage has been interesting, seeing my body transform and seeing how clothes are as flattering on my current figure. But I know that is so dumb and I should not worry about it because it will be worth it when I have that sweet babe to hold! But yes, I could mirror everything you said! Fat shaming and skinny shaming drive me NUTS! No one will ever be "perfect" or "good enough" for everyone and we need to learn to love ourselves for who we are! You are awesome, Mattie!! xo

  16. I totally get what you are saying about feeling one way about your body at home...and then feeling differently when you see it out in public in glimpses. It is the same way I see things. And I always think I look better right after a work out too. Some of my favorite pictures of myself that I dont share on the blog are the sweaty work out selfies I send to my work out group because I am looking at my muscles in the picture and not the flaws. I guess the same goes for fitting rooms. Why do I think I look really good in an outfit in a fitting room, then get it home and I hate it and take it back.

    Fat shaming, skinny shaming, any shaming sucks. I wish we could all just be more supportive of each other, then maybe we wouldn't pick ourselves apart so much! We gotta love ourselves!

  17. What a great post Mattie, a very relatable topic. Growing up, I was always tiny. I used to pride myself in being short and skinny. In high school, I love my flat belly but hated my bony chest. I looked unhealthy. My parents were convinced I had an eating disorder. Being so thin, I didn't have enough body fat to start my period. I didn't have my first one until I was 16. I stayed skinny until I started hormonal BC five years ago. I started gaining weight in my chest, belly, and hips. I gained about 15-20 pounds in less than a year. My boyfriend loved it and said I was too skinny before. I was fine with the changes for awhile until I had a muffin top going on and a small belly protruding in tight tops. I started to wear higher rise jeans and looser tops to hide my insecurities. Now, all these years later, I am very aware of my belly and hips. I hate wearing tighter tops because of this. It sucks that we have all these insecurities that affect our everyday lives. If I was more disciplined with diet and exercise, I could probably get rid of some of it. I love to eat though! The struggle is real!

  18. Great post. This is something that I struggle with. I'm always being told I have a pretty face. I'm never told I'm pretty, just that I have a pretty face. Personally, I think it is insulting. My face may be pretty but the rest of me isn't. It's a very hard thing to over come.

  19. Such a great post! I think this is something that so many people struggle with, but are afraid to open up about! I appreciate your vulnerability here!

  20. I love this post. I feel the same way. I can see myself somewhere and think I look good that day, but then I get home and look in the mirror and pick apart my body. It is an awful habit. And I see others and think wow they look skinny, tall, lean, toned, glowing, etc. I agree with Michael that our own turf brings out the worst thoughts of our own body. I think others would look at me and think wow she is skinny, but then I see the extra skin on my belly from having kids and I get sad that I can't get it to go away. But I carried two beautiful souls. It is a love hate relationship with my body. And one that I always work on. We need to love our bodies.Again such a great post.

  21. I feel like the media is majorly to blame for a lot of people having unrealistic expectations about how they should or shouldn't look. Half the time celebrities are airbrushed in magazines to look perfect, which is something that normal people will never be able to achieve. I find myself doing the same thing you do, looking in the mirror one second and thinking I look ok, and then seeing myself a few minutes later and wondering how I ever thought I looked ok. I think that you said it right, that we should be focused on being healthy, and not being "skinny".

  22. It is hard to love our bodies I am a short fat middle aged woman and there are times when I like my body and there are times I don't like to look in a mirror as I don't like what I see, so over all I know I am pretty normal woman. I don't understand why some women like to put other women down and make them feel worse about their bodies we are hard enough on ourselves without other people chipping in

  23. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Love the honesty.

  24. This is so good! I've noticed the same thing. I'll pass a mirror one day and think I look great, and then I'll see a picture of myself from the next day and hate how my body looks. It's not possible for my actual body to change that much in 24 hours, so your theory seems right. Also, just clicked over to her blog and read that post..SO GOOD.

  25. I've seen a lot of these types of posts lately. It's nice to have a continual reminder because sometimes I just really don't like my own body, 19 months post partum. But, I need to. Thank you.

  26. I just heard about body dysmorphic disorder on Catfish (of all places). I didn't know that was a thing. I think Michael was on to something about picking ourselves apart at home, where we're more comfortable. There are also no other people to compare ourselves to at home. I think my body confidence varies greatly on what I'm wearing, like if certain pants feel loose, or the arms get a little snug. But I think everyone has some body part/parts they don't love. This is a wonderfully genuine post!

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  28. Wow! I love these. Seeing what you said about your own body is basically exactly how I feel about mine. I wouldn't categorize myself as "fat" or "skinny" by any means, but I've gained a few lbs since our wedding nearly 3 years ago. I'm definitely not the most confident person in the world, but then there are days where I think highly of myself. It's silly how back and forth I am on myself but I know the media and the world today is to blame. I just try to remember I was made exactly like I am for a reason. If I can't love myself (emotionally and physically), why should I expect others to? Great post girl! :)