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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon
vasaris
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March 2014
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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon [userpic]
Body Image



An essay on body image and how it affects me.

This is likely to be somewhat incomplete, as I have things to do today (such as throw money at HFC and inquire at my bank if they'll let me deposit some fifteen thousand dollars as a no-hold check... for some reason I doubt it, but I can hope... it'll make paying my creditors much easier.)

On the other hand, I put on a tank top today (size large, not xl, xxl, 3-, 4-, or 5-x (which is where I started), and stared at myself in the mirror, aware, and not for the first time, of my vague discomfort at being in something that fits moderately tightly.

Last year, had I been asked about my body image, I would have said 'What body image?' I wore oversized clothes, not so much to hide my body -- an impossible feat given my size -- but because, face it, loose clothes are comfortable and allow for breezes when it happens to be hot out.

I'm a huge fan of loose clothing. In fact, I find it damned amusing on those occasions I watch 'What Not to Wear' because the so-called fashion gurus have *such* an issue with comfortable clothes. I'm not saying that more fitted clothing can't also be comfy, but loose clothing is easier to find and wear without worrying about the issue.

Anyway, within the last six or eight months, as my t-shirt size has gotten smaller and I have begun experimenting with trying on smaller clothing, I have discovered that yes, I really do have body-image issues.

Weird is that this came as a shock to me. Why? Because I so rarely thought about what I look like to other people -- it made it easier to ignore comments about my weight, looks, hair (although, realistically, I have hair that many other women spend thousands of dollars to achieve, which I find endlessly funny), or whatever.

I'm me, no matter what my weight happens to be. My personality is pretty much the same, one way or the other. Well, my step-sister says my interpersonal skills are significantly improved since I took a job in customer service, which requires me to, y'know, talk to people, but that has nothing at all to do with my weight. At 150lbs heavier than I am now, I was less concerned about how I looked than I am now.

I find this somewhat distressing. Is it that I cared so little then or that I care so much now? I'm wearing a shirt that seems a bit tight to me, but not more so than I have been assured by others looks fine. It shows my body, my figure (I have one! Yes! Score!), my general shape -- I feel vaguely odd, in fact, because my pants are a bit too large... I caught myself wondering if they've got any shorts at Rite Aid (the drug/convenience store for those unfamiliar with the chain) and thinking that theoretically, I should be small enough that they've got things I can wear.

Bizzare concept, really.

But still the discomfort lingers -- feeling, well, not exactly ugly but self-consciously ungainly, despite the fact that I'm not, really. I know that I'm going to walk into Curves this morning and say 'Do I look okay? The shirt isn't too tight?' Indeed, I'll almost certainly have another shirt with me to change into, despite the fact that intellectually I know I don't really need it.

And I wonder, do other women (and men, for that matter) feel like that?

I remember not particularly caring how I looked, but I also remember being unable to judge my own size well, as if I was mentally clinging to a smaller body size. I can't count the number of bruises I have aquired over the years because of an inaccurate idea of where my body began and ended.

And I wonder, have others experienced this?

I am physically strong -- I always have been. I just lacked endurance, generally. I could (and did) shift heavy things without much effort; huffing and puffing not because the strain of moving something heavy so much as because I lacked aerobic fitness. I am stronger now, admittedly, but what I have gained the most in is the ability to keep on going without devolving into an asthma attack.

Many people underestimate the actual strength of those who are overweight, failing to understand the distinction between strength/endurance. And I wonder if I was affected in much the same way, only because I knew my strength, did it influence my belief in how large I was/was not? How much of my internal imagery, which has blind spots, really, was based on the knowledge that I could lift mom's teak sewing desk and move it if I needed to?

Did I think, gee, a fat person couldn't do that so I'm not really fat?

I can't really say.

All I know is this: I see myself and don't see myself. The woman in the mirror is wearing a shirt that is a shade too tight, and her pants are a touch too loose. It's not indecent; hell, it doesn't even look bad, exactly, but either way, somehow it doesn't seem to be *me*. That woman has boobs that are emphasized (something I avoid doing, I hate my breasts and would trade them in for smaller versions any day this week and twice on Sundays), and (relatively) small waist. She's overweight, but does not look more so than half the women on the street -- hell, she might actually weigh less than some of the customers I think of as overweight but really pretty. How can she be me?

The woman in the mirror suspects she could wear a medium T-shirt, if it was made by Hanes (which is cut somewhat large), and some part of her is elated and terrified by that concept.

My life is not defined by dress/shirt size, but Goddess Bless that's just strange when last year we got new uniforms at work and I couldn't close the 4x shirt/smock. It sometimes boggles the mind.

In any case, I'd like to hear what others think about the issue of body image... or even see posts in other journals about it, if there's too much for a comment ;)

...my first attempt at rye bread is out of the oven, so I guess I'd better get moving on the tasks I've st for myself today.


x-posted to officialmascot and curvesofbbb

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Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Walking in Memphis, Marc Cohn
Comments

And I wonder, do other women (and men, for that matter) feel like that?

Yes yes, god yes.

Last May, I weighed around 150, which at 5'7" is only about 5 pounds over weight, but I have a body that does not hide weight well. I was obviously chubby, had a double chin, and was wearing a size 12/13.

I graduated high school and started college, improved my diet a little. I now weigh 128, have no more double chin, and wear a 5/6. I've been wearing medium or large tops since I was a kid because I was always a bit chubby, and suddenly I can wear smalls. I have a dress that's a size four.

When I was a 12, I was content. I was always comfortable, and though other people called me fat I never looked in the mirror and saw a fat girl. I thought I looked fairly good, really.

Since I lost weight, though, I'm always concerned. I look in the mirrors, scrutinizing my ankles and upper arms. Do they still look chubby? Are they thin enough for my size? And there's my tummy. Yes, I've lost weight, but I still lack muscle tone in that part of my body so my tummy is still a little flabby. It disturbs me now more than when it was in rolls. I feel I must hide it even more.

And there's so much pressure to stay this weight, or even lose more. My mother still warns me when I eat a little junk food or get seconds at dinner. "You'll get fat!" she says, puffing out her cheeks and snorting like a pig. My boyfriend hates when I say I'm fat, not because he thinks I look great, but "Yeah, you're not as skinny as you could be, but you can't complain when you're not doing anything about it."

And yeah, the first time he said that I told him that if I lost one more size I would be a size FOUR and that surprised him, because I think I don't really look like a 5/6, more like an 8.

It's so crazy. But at the same time, it's fun. I can wear shorter skirts if I want now, when before I wouldn't wear them at all, and tank tops and halters. Those cute dresses/shirts/leather pants that always looked so good on the mannequin but never looked good on me? I can wear those now, and I like it.

So, yes. This is just a universal thing.

Also, *hugs*.

And there's so much pressure to stay this weight, or even lose more. My mother still warns me when I eat a little junk food or get seconds at dinner. "You'll get fat!" she says, puffing out her cheeks and snorting like a pig. My boyfriend hates when I say I'm fat, not because he thinks I look great, but "Yeah, you're not as skinny as you could be, but you can't complain when you're not doing anything about it."

People can be so damn thoughtless and so wrapped up in what society tells us is normal/healthy.

I am still morbidly obese. I'm losing weight for myself, for my health, for my mom and the pride I know she had in me. I'd love to wear a size six. Hell, I think I'm pushing it that I bought some 14/16 slacks today.

But I can totally understand the pressure thing... "Are you still losing weight? Are you at least maintaining?"

Sometimes it seems like the thinner you are the less you belong to yourself, or something. If you're already fat, no one much cares if you gain an additional pound, but if you've been losing weight, heaven forfend!

So let me say: Congratulations on your weight loss, love. Your boyfriend and mother are idiots in this particular matter, so I hope you're not letting it bother you too much -- I expect asking that you not let it bother you at all would be a tad silly.

*performs the Official Happy Dance (tm) that is usually used to greet rain, storms, and Canadian money of small denominations*

It's good to know, oddly, that the drop weight/gain obsession thing isn't mine alone. I'd rather not have it though. I'll work on accepting me as me if you'll do the same... think that'll work?

...and I'll just suggest that when you look at yourself and still think you're 'fat'... a) you aren't but b) you might consider doing some kind of weight/resistance training to *tone* your lighter body. I bed you'd be surprised a bit by the results. OTOH, I expect you're beautiful just as you are, idiot boyfriends and mothers bedamned.

*nods emphatically*

'cause the only thing I agree with in the BFs statement is that if it bothers you, you should consider actively doing something about it -- but I'm only saying this because it appears to bother *you*. I don't much care if something like that bothers him or your mom. In this, the only opinion I think matters is yours.

*big hugs*

It's so crazy. But at the same time, it's fun. I can wear shorter skirts if I want now, when before I wouldn't wear them at all, and tank tops and halters. Those cute dresses/shirts/leather pants that always looked so good on the mannequin but never looked good on me? I can wear those now, and I like it.

I am soooo jealous. Hopefully in a year I won't need to be... I'll look forward to that.

I'm proud of you, personally.

Society's definition of a "good" weight is so ridiculous. A six or an eight is apparently the ideal size, as anything about that is "chubby", but anything below that is "too thin". When my mother was loosing weight she went from a 16 to an 8, and suddenly at 8 the "you look great" comments stopped and she got the concerned "oh my god, are you still trying to lose weight?" comments because at that point society thought she'd lost too much. And she gave in and purposefully gained weight back until she was a 10 again.

I think you can only lose weight for yourself. I think the right weight for you is the one where you feel happiest and most comfortable while still being healthy.

I can't decide whether your mother's experience is whacked out or touching. It's no bad thing in a society where there's a significant portion of the population that thinks anorexia is beautiful (have you *seen* the number of pro-ana groups? Yikes!) that people might express concern, but then again the dichotomy is really bizarre -- Lose weight! Eeek! Stop!

It's rather weird when you think about it.

(Anonymous)
from the step-sister

I think some of the (the awareness of body image) is that now you are in the wider "normal" range where we all think we are too thin/fat. Before that, you were just fat and that was that. ? When I was 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 I was skinny, very skinny and was teased and called bony (I was such a great candidate for teasing, as I got so wonderfully upset about); then Dad got a decent job and I was no longer so very skinny and therefore the family called me fatso...some of Mom's issues in there too (or my issues with Mom? Whatever). Now, I see myself at the same time at fat and thin, and while wanting and needing to lose a bit of weight worry when I do lose that I am losing too much.

But my body seems pretty well determined to stay between 165 and 190, regardless. Thank goodness someone in here has some say and determination.