I have struggled with body image my entire life. Ever since I can remember I have had periods of time where I have hated the body I live inside. Ever since the pediatrician warned me that I should lose the weight I was carrying when I was 10 because it would only get harder as I got older I have had issues with my body. There were periods of time where I have felt my body looked ok, maybe even good but they didn’t last long. My weight as a result has gone up and down more than Pam Anderson during her sex video with Tommy Lee. I have never had an eating disorder so to speak but what I do have is a disorder in self-perception. A disorder in thinking that the first thing people see when they look at me are the flaws in my body. Forget about anything else such as my mind or my feelings; I scrutinize every picture of myself out there on social media because of my size and what people might be thinking about it when they look at me.
How often have we taken a picture with friends and said “Do not post that until I see it” or “Crop that so my belly doesn’t show” or “Take it from this angle, it makes me look thinner”? Why does this happen? Why can we not take a picture capturing a fun night out with friends that we can look back on and cherish as a great memory instead focusing on how we looked in the picture? There are pictures of myself that I have purposefully deleted because I thought I looked “fat” or “bloated” or “large”. What does that say to my girls who I am trying to raise in a way that makes them recognize their beautiful brains and gorgeous hearts rather than how their stomachs look in a bikini.
Last week a good friend took a picture of me doing a handstand on another friend’s back. In the picture I am smiling big because it was the first time I’ve ever done a handstand in yoga, assisted or unassisted, and the feeling was euphoric. I felt fearless, playful, and strong all in that moment based on my facial expression and what I can remember of the feeling at the time. But that soon became clouded as I picked apart how I looked in the picture. My eyes immediately went to the puffy upper tummy, the extra padding around my upper arms, and the size of my thighs. I started comparing how I looked to other people in yoga poses who I perceive look so much better than me because they are leaner, thinner, longer. I almost asked my friend to untag me but I refrained because what I want more than anything, more than to be a size 2 again or to wear a bikini is to feel sexy and fantastic in the body I am currently wearing. The body who has been through the fucking ringer this year and may have eaten a few too many pasta dishes and drank a little too much wine. The body who has endured the heartache of a very sick child and a herniated disc in my back and a possibly fatal heart condition but still keeps standing strong on its feet or its hands. The body who gets up every day and walks into a job helping children and families and is sometimes so exhausted by it all that the gym or exercise seems physically impossible. The body who loves to cook incredible food and to eat it and enjoy it with friends. The body who sometimes feels the weight of the world pressing down but still stands up tall and dances its heart out in spite of it all. This to me would be the greatest gift, to feel sexy and satisfied with the body where my soul resides.
So I think I need to stop trying to find the ways in which my body looks “ok” to me and just enjoy the moment and let that come across in the photo because really there is nothing sexier than some good old fashioned confidence. In the immortal words of Justin Timberlake, I’m bringing sexy back. And in the wise words of Drop Dead Fred, “I’m too sexy for this post”. And in honor, I give you the photo that made me write this post. Goddamn I look strong and happy here.