I have a friend who does bodywork — massage and chiropractic, basically — who is helping me to get through marathon training. This happens to be the same friend who’s training me in practical self-defense and who knows all about my traumas.
When he was working on my quads last week, I instinctively did what I always instinctively do — tensed up. “Agh, I hate having my thighs worked on,” I said.
“Yes, I’m aware of your safeguards,” he said.
“No, it just tickles.”
“Well, some people have physical safeguards and emotional safeguards. Just relax.”
And, it being for the benefit of my tired legs, I did. But it got me thinking about something I’ve been mulling over since I wrote about posting on Reddit’s GoneWild forum and my new approach to body image. Some of the feedback that I got was that I was unconvincing as far as my body positivity went, and that the GW posting would’ve been more interesting if I had been more upfront about overcoming body issues. Reading that made me think, Well, what if some women just don’t really have big problems with the way our bodies look? Keep reading »
Here are all the things I know about my body: My angular face no longer gains weight at the same rate that the rest of my body does, so when I gain weight my head looks smaller even though everything else looks about right in ratio to each other. I have proportionately very large thighs, and specifically proportionately very large quadriceps. My hamstrings and calves aren’t as developed. My ankles are likewise really wide. I have splayed breasts and my nipples don’t point quite forward. My rib cage is just about as wide as my hips. My hips are very wide. My butt has a pretty round shape but it doesn’t sit very high and I still don’t know if that can change via infinite squats (or if I care?). I have thin fingers but knobby knuckles. I have wide shoulders. My upper arms have some heft, so when they’re flat to my sides they splay out a little. My toes curl into each other. The tops of my feet are kind of hairy. I have a genuinely big-boned frame. The way I carry fat on my body has changed significantly in the last 10 years. I bloat up the week before my period. My skin never tans, it just gets sort of burnished. My legs are short for my height. I’m 70 inches tall, I weigh 176 pounds, and I have 24 percent body fat.
None of these things are criticisms — well, none of them are criticisms anymore. I spent the larger part of my life avoiding looking in the mirror, and when I did, I would only catch glances. It’d be a glance here at my legs, a glance there at my arms. It was always part of a subconscious effort to compare a part of my body to a part of someone else’s body — not just celebrities, but women I’d see walking down the street. So I only knew about my body the things that didn’t match up to someone else. Keep reading »
I blinked a couple times in disbelief, jiggling the sliding weight marker on the old school scale in the corner of the YMCA. An inch to the right or left, and it would clank down, but the weight it was balanced on couldn’t be right, could it? If I was doing the math correctly, I’d lost 13 pounds since the last time I weighed myself, two months ago.
I hadn’t been trying to lose weight, exactly. I had tried more consciously to lose a few pounds last year, getting up at 5:30 every morning to work out for an hour, but I hadn’t changed my diet much, so, to my disappointment and frustration, the scale never budged. A few months ago I decided to ditch the goal of weight loss and just start eating intuitively. I still exercised because it made me feel good, but I didn’t go crazy about it.
And now here I was, staring at proof that I was shedding pounds, and I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. I was surprised, happy, but more confused than anything: how could I have lost more than 10 pounds without really noticing? And why didn’t it feel like a more momentous occasion? Keep reading »
It wouldn’t be January without the media focusing on anything and everything having to do with weight loss. One of my favorite activities around this time of year is to hate-scroll through The Daily Mail, the website with what I find to be the most absurd/offensive/dumb diet and weight-related headlines. Why do I this? Because it reminds me how important it is to continue to challenge these twisted ideas about body image. It’s easy to think that because you’re intellectually aware of the insidiousness of weight loss propaganda and body shame rhetoric, that you’re immune to falling prey to it. We’re all susceptible to the negative messages we receive our bodies that we receive. That’s why I make it a point to spend a little bit of time each January detoxing my mind — reminding myself what’s real about my relationship to my body and what’s a load of noise being piped into my subconscious. I already wrote about The Daily Mail’s warning about “buffalo humps” and “bingo wings,” but below are some more headlines that I need to call bullshit on. Keep reading »
I think everyone who writes about body image has a blind spot or a subject that makes them feel a bit hypocritical. After all, most of us haven’t gotten the whole “Love your body exactly as it is 100 percent of the time no matter what” thing down yet, and although we might have a great understanding of all the concepts, and can easily explain them to others, we haven’t quite internalized them for ourselves. Keep reading »
I love Thanksgiving – and I can’t wait to fly back to the Midwest this week to celebrate with relatives – but I have somewhat of a turbulent history with the holiday. My parents’ divorce has made me less than eager to head home and face splintered celebrations spread over three different households. One thing I’ve always loved about it, however, is the food. When I was more of an emotional eater, this played out for the worst, as I couldn’t imagine anything more comforting than a table overflowing with turkey, stuffing and pie. These days, I’m eating my feelings a lot less, but I still love to eat – and I wish that fact didn’t come with judgment or worry. This creates a complex dilemma on Thanksgiving: how do you let your body image issues go on a holiday that’s all about food? Keep reading »