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'I am not my body.' The sentence that diminished my body issues.

I need to stop hating myself because I hate my thighs, my ass, my stomach, my flabby underarms, my hands. I need to stop telling myself that I’m “disgusting” when I see myself in a 3-way mirror. This is no longer okay.

Yesterday I was moved to tears by a snippet in a documentary film called “Life in A Day.” People from all over the world were asked to videotape themselves going about their lives on one particular day in 2010. In one section, the question “What do you fear?” was used as a prompt. Most kids feared ghosts and spiders, adults feared God and loneliness, but one extremely overweight woman in particular, completely in the nude, in stark sepia tones, standing, arms outstretched, said “This is me. This is what I fear.”

I became immobilised. It struck me as the saddest thing I had ever seen and heard. Maybe I misunderstood and she was worried that her body would turn on her at some point, kill her from the inside, but I’m pretty certain my interpretation was the right one.

Author, Gayle Saks. Image via Twitter.

My body issues are far-reaching and lifelong. When I try to put this in perspective as an adult, I truly realise that I’m not so bad, and according to all sorts of charts and statistics, I’m slightly below the size and weight of the average American woman, not by much, but enough to make me feel a little better (I’m also 14 centimetres TALLER than the average American woman).

I’m not going to blather on about the media because God knows, that is a tired subject. I am so sick of seeing celebrities in their fucking bikinis with sunburst sidebars about how they lost the 15 kilos they gained during pregnancy in six weeks. Good for you. What an AWESOME human being you must be.

This isn’t to say that I don’t look at Beyonce’s legs and thighs and feel so envious, but I don’t bemoan HER for that or hate myself for it either. I think Christina Hendricks from “Mad Men” is exquisite and I have to say, that I have those curves and do feel lucky for them.

Christina Hendricks in Mad Men. Image via AMC.
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I guess I’m extraordinarily hypocritical when it comes to this subject because I haven’t worn a bathing suit bottom in years. My top half, not so bad, but, the rest, not so good. I wear these swim shorts things and I’ve recently decided that I hate my knees. When I say things about my body to my husband, which is almost every day, I tell him that he doesn’t even need to respond, he doesn’t need to bother telling me how gorgeous and perfect I am. It won’t help until I believe it for myself.

I’ve loved how regular exercise made me look and feel. I dropped a nice amount of weight and I did in fact have more energy. I did love that for about a year I was wearing a size 10 when all I really wanted was to be a perfect size 12. Recently, I’ve cut down on carbs and it shows. I’m certainly not torturing myself and I do treat myself to whatever I want, whenever I want. I know I should start exercising again, but I can’t beat myself up for not doing so right now.

There are many things I’ve come to really like about my body: I adore my collarbone. I’ve figured out a way to pose in pictures that make my arms look defined. When I wear perfectly fitting things, my profile is pretty great. I look really good in a maxi dress. I love the color of my eyes, the size of my lips and my really soft skin. I have a freckle on the fleshy part of my hand below my left thumb that I find strangely sexy. I like that I’m tall, but wish I were one inch taller.

I have a 10-yr old daughter who I think is the most magnificent creature on Earth. I’ve spent a good part of her life just staring at her in awe. She is definitely on the tall trajectory and has grown a bit of a belly, but, when I ask her if she thinks she’s beautiful, she says yes. This isn’t vanity, it’s honesty and it’s remarkable. I’ve always told her that you don’t just come out and say “I’m pretty,” but that you wait until someone says it to you first. She gets this, but I love that she feels great about herself. When she has occasionally said to me “I’m fat” I totally lay into her and tell her that she’s perfect and I don’t want to hear her say that ever again.

I wish someone would have said that to me at her age, instead of hiding food from me under the table linens in the hutch in our dining room.

This post originally appeared on My Life in the Middle Ages

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