Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Imperfect Bodies

Me at the end of high school
Last week, a wonderful author friend of mine posted a really moving post about her history of body issues. It made me think a lot about my own issues with my own imperfect body.

My mom was a beautiful woman. She wasn't very tall but she was naturally skinny with a beautiful face. She was as close to the ideal that I've seen without plastic surgery. This made me feel like my body was about as far from the ideal as I could get from a young age.

I did not inherit my mom's skinny genes. My body type comes from my dad, so I'm short and squat. I have hips and I have boobs. But I also have a tendency to be overweight. Add in that I've always preferred reading and watching TV over any kind of exercise, I've been considered overweight since I was a teenager.

Looking back at pictures now, I wasn't really overweight. My body is shaped to carry more weight around my middle because of the hips that I've got. Even now when I'm actually overweight, I'm still carrying all the extra weight in my middle.

But my body issues really started before I even hit puberty. You see, I'm extremely short. My parents were concerned about how short I was when I was a kid. They even, briefly, looked into having me stretched because my doctor thought I would be under five feet. The 80's were a strange time.

In the end, I did reach five feet but barely. I've met women who were shorter but not very many. I'm a hobbit, short and round. And I was bullied because I was short and round for many years.

In elementary school, I was teased for being short. In middle school, I was verbally and physically abused by this girl who was twice as big as I was. I think the reason she bullied me was because I was so much smaller than she was.

In high school, I was still bullied for my size but now it was also because I was hugely geeky and didn't hide it at all. I wasn't bullied as much as I was in middle school, but I do remember vividly an incident where I was surrounded by a bunch of guys. One of them forced me to kiss him - he and his friends thought this was so funny.

I was so embarrassed at the time. And I felt like I had done something wrong to warrant such behavior. Looking back on it now, I know that I had been assaulted. I hate even now to call it a sexual assault but it kind of was. This guy forced himself on me even though it was only a kiss.

I never told my mom about that incident. I just wanted to forget it and move on. My mom stood up
Me now
for me - she causing a ruckus with the principal was how the bullying, at least the physical stuff, stopped in middle school. But she also is one of the main reasons why I have a poor view of my body.

Mom was well meaning but she was always on me to lose weight. She'd tell me that boys would like me more if I lost weight among other things. I'm honestly a bit lazy so I didn't do much about it. I still would have rather read than exercise. My sister, who is got my dad's genes too, went overboard - she was anorexic for a while when she was in high school. She was obsessed with being skinny like our mom.

Going to college helped me with my body issues. I was on my own for the first time, and I realized that I was pretty. Still not hot or overly attractive, but pretty. I started dating and my first boyfriend was head over heels for me. Unfortunately he was also extremely tall which made things very awkward since I'm so short.

I was in the best shape of my life in college because I walked everywhere. But I still had a thick middle and my mom still got on me to lose weight. Even though I was not the ideal, I dated some in college.

After college and after my mom passed, I got rounder. Going from walking everywhere to sitting at a desk all day made me put on a lot of weight. The grief of losing my mom plus the chronic pain issues that started soon after, and I was round.

Even though my body is not ideal, I still managed to attract my wonderful husband. Even though my body fails me in lots of ways with my chronic pain, it also helped me grow and nourish Emily.

Todd and I were talking about it a while ago and we both realize that neither of us will ever be skinny. He's very solid and even though he's lost a lot of weight, he's still a big guy. Even if I lose the 50 pounds I'd like to for health reasons, I'll still have a thick middle. That's just how we were made.

I hope to teach Emily to love her imperfect body the way it is. No-one is perfect so we need to stop trying to achieve an ideal that isn't possible.

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