In high school, I felt fat and unattractive. I weighed 90lbs. In college, I felt fat and unattractive, and wished I looked like I did in high school. I weighed 105 lbs. When I fell in love with my husband, I gained to 122. By the time we married, I was 140lbs, and unhealthy. I never worked out. For the first time, I actually was fat. I felt unattractive. After the wedding, I started exercising and eating “healthy” and got down to 107. I still hated my body. I still felt fat and unattractive. I then promptly got pregnant, and gained to 154. My pre-pregnancy body didn’t come back immediately, or ever.
When my son was a year old, I started running. My body learned to do things it had never done. I had muscles I had never had. I felt more powerful, happier, and more alive. I still, however, felt fat, unattractive, and hated my body.
This year, I am 33 years old. I’m a successful teacher, have a beautiful family, and my body has completed three 50k distances in some picturesqe settings. I wake up at 430am for bootcamp three times a week. I run with a mentoring program. I consider myself a smart, strong, happy woman. Today, we are going to a crawfish boil at a friend’s house, and while getting dressed, it hit me again. I still feel fat, and unattractive, and hate my body.
I hate a body that has grown, birthed, and nursed my son. I hate a body that has loved and been loved by my husband. I hate a body that learned to run from a base of zero. I hate a body that can do kettlebell swings, and dead lifts, and burpees, and man-makers. I hate a body that ran 31+ miles through the hill country of Texas is sub-freezing temperatures. I hate that just now, as I looked down, I can see my stomach flop over my laptop.
You see, every day, I wake up, and I have to put clothes on this body. I put clothes on this body that are designed for perfect bodies. My size 6 shorts press into my muffin top, and are just short enough to show the cellulite I try to ignore. Higher-waisted shorts accentuate the mommy muff that makes me feel old, and unworthy of my husband’s stares. My short waist and large bust allow the fluff of my abdomen to be the focal point of a body that is so much more than its BMI, and because I am weak of spirit, I grow sad. We tell our young girls to love their bodies, to respect the shapes of others, to be proud of their thighs, their curves, their dimples, and their tiger stripes. Yet here I am, a woman proud of her accomplishments, yet stuck with the same thoughts that have haunted me since I was 15 and frail and lacking in bust. I feel unattractive. I hate my body.
This is not a cry for attention, nor is it a war cry for womanhood and empowerment. It is merely an admission. Because if I can say this out loud, then maybe someone else will as well, and we can move on and forget the softness of our extra pounds, and remember the softness of our love, and we can move on from feeling shame for bodies that have battled the world, and we can feel like we’ve won, at least for today. We can get dressed, and go out with friends. We can focus on the joy of life and not the jiggle here or wiggle there. We can realize that when we say things like this, that other women think we are crazy, but go home and say the exact same thing to their own mirror. I wish I looked like a girl who wishes she looked like me, while another woman looks at us and just wishes she had our spirit.
I’m not going to sit here and vow today to henceforth feel like enough, because that would be disingenuous, and I am better than that. What I will do is stuff myself into these shorts, and hope that no one notices.
And, I’ll remind myself what I love about my body. I love that I have my Dad’s blue eyes and his mom’s barbarian nose. I love my freckles, and the teeth that my mom paid to straighten. I love the tattoos that I chose to be part of me. I love that my body is strong enough to keep going at mile 28 when I want to quit. I love that my body nursed a child, without problem, and still comforts that child with hugs and snuggles. I love my body for being healthy, and capable, and growing stronger every day. I love my bruised toenails that remind me that I am unstoppable, if I just put my mind to something. I love my body.