I’m 27 and I guess I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t ashamed of my body. Think about it: 27 years is a long time to not like the place you live.
If someone you considered a friend spoke to you the same way you speak to yourself, would you still be friends with them?
In all practicality, my body is functional. My body does what I need it to do, on the inside. But on the outside I feel that I have always fallen short.
Because I never had the “perfect body,” I was dieting early in my teen years. I didn’t like the way I looked, but my parents were more than ready to put me on a diet plan. It was because my parents wanted the best for me, I know. I think they felt guilty for allowing my bad habits to start: I was never really taught how to eat properly. But it really messed up my relationship with food. Getting through your teen years is hard enough, and having the Food Police tell you what you can and can’t eat…well, you know how that works out. Instead of being taught how to eat, I was restricted. And any chance I got, I rebelled, and over-ate. It was an endless cycle of restriction, binging, and hating my body.
I was too young to understand how to really get healthy, and even too young to really want it. I only kinda wanted it, but I also really wanted to just eat like a “normal person.” Why couldn’t this come easy to me like it could for everyone else? How come no other girl at school looked like me?
I don’t blame my parents; somehow our parents’ own messed up relationships with food seep into our lives as children. They really wanted the best for me, I know. But I never really felt like I’d be good enough until I looked a certain way. I remember there being nights that I’d just beg for a snack and my mom saying, “Sorry, you only have enough Weight Watchers points left for jello.” It messes with you. (I also ate a lot of jello. You can understand why I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole these days.)
But my problem had already been created and wasn’t their problem to solve. They’d have to wait until I really wanted it.
On the flip side, because I was overweight and didn’t have a “perfect” body, it was implied by my family, culture in general (mind you I grew up in the Britney Spears era) and my little high school “society” that I should be ashamed of looking this way and dress to cover my body at all costs. I always felt like I had to hide behind big sweaters, baggy pants and big t-shirts. Not because I wanted to but because I felt like I had to, and I hated it. What other girl would roam the hallways of my high school wearing oversized band t-shirts and baggy jeans? Ummmm…yeah. I was the only one.
The weird thing is, though, after all was said and done and I gained even more weight in college and then lost 70lbs, all of these insecurities remain. I look in the mirror and I still see all of my imperfections. I examine them one by one: My gigantic thighs. My horribly fleshy stomach. My hips, huge enough to birth a hippopotamus. (But, since I’m so realistic, a baby-sized one.) They all make me want to cry and/or set myself on fire, depending on my mood. These insecurities and my painful, twisted relationship with food do not go away when you lose weight.
And then I realize. While I hang onto these things, I have to know that they are all in my head. All of it. These are negative, self-sabotaging thoughts and tendencies I have hung onto since my childhood and it is time to let go. I’m an adult now and I should not be thinking these things about myself. To hang onto them is a mark of immaturity to me. It’s the brain of Krista, the 17-year-old, not Krista, the 27-year-old.
These are photos from the Undie Run, which was an amazing event for an even more amazing cause. I decided I was going to own my imperfect body and wear something in public (that isn’t the beach) that I never would have allowed myself to wear in the past. Unfortunately I found myself focusing on all those things I hate about myself, which was easy to do with so many other scantily clad bodies around. But I had committed to my decision. It was my big “fuck you” to the world: my body is beautiful because it is a body that is capable of anything, and bodies don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.
My huge thighs and freakishly muscular calves got me through three marathons.
My wide hippopotamus hips help me be the best goaltender I can be.
My fleshy stomach with bits of lose skin around my belly button is proof of my weight loss, my hard work, my physical and emotional struggles since I was a teenager. Without those struggles, I would not fully appreciate the body I have.
These are things I will carry with me throughout my life. These things I will choose to remember when I compare my body to someone else’s.
This is my niece, Ella, and I think she’s perfect. But most of all, I don’t want her to ever look in the mirror and obsess about her imperfections. I don’t want her to compare her body to other girls’ bodies. I don’t want her to have a messed up relationship with food.
I want her to know that she can do anything she wants to do – dance, figure skate, play hockey, do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, hell, she could even train monkeys for a living if she wanted to.
I want her to know about and look up to women who have strong bodies and positive body images. She is going to imitate what she sees the women in her life doing; I want her to see me doing amazing things so she knows she is also capable of amazing things. And these things have nothing to do with what a number on the scale says, or what society says she should or shouldn’t eat and should or shouldn’t wear.
All of these things are going to shape the woman she will become. I want to be a positive example and that starts with me. being. positive.