I Love My Body
I still remember when I was about 24, one of my girlfriends was getting ready to turn 30. She told me about how her best friend had made the resolution that by 30 she was going to be accepting of her body. I thought it was a noble idea, but I wasn’t there yet.
All my life I’ve struggled with body image – some were my own issues, but most were other people’s issues. Growing up I watched my father insult my mother about her body weight, sometimes even trying to embarrass her in front of other people. My mom never complained about her weight and seemed to just ignore him. Then, my father started insulting my body weight, telling me that if I continued eating as I was I’d look like my mother. I didn’t even learn until 7th grade that my mom was considered “overweight”, so it probably insulted my mother more than it ever did me. He would occasionally refer to me at fat-@$$, trying to hurt my feelings, and my older brother would then get in on the action and taunt me as well. My grandmother and aunt would sometimes tease me too. My aunt was 4 years older than me and super petite, and after 5th grade I no longer got her hand-me-downs, but rather the other way around. My mom would always rush to my defense and would then reiterate to me when we were alone that I wasn’t fat. And, I believed her.
In 6th grade I was bullied by some of the popular girls about how some of my clothes were getting tight on me. And, they were right – my hips were getting bigger. Shortly after that I also got a clipping in the mail from my great-aunt Lavonne, telling me about a weight loss treatment she’s used that “really worked”. My mom saw it and immediately threw it in the garbage. Now, maybe I have a bad memory or else my loving mother convinced me well enough of this, but I was never fat. Ever. However, when you have enough people telling you this, you eventually start to believe them.
I wish this is where the story ends, but unfortunately it’s not. When I was 20 I met the man I thought I was going to marry and proceeded to spend the next 5 years with him. We moved in together, bought a house, got a dog, joined our money, etc. I was head over heels for him. There was one glaringly obvious thing about him that most people noticed, but I chose to ignore, and that was that he too had an issue with my weight. Sometimes it would be his comments, like questioning me if I really needed seconds on something I was going back for. Other times it would be more frank, telling me that he was worried I was going to get fat. At this time I was 20 lbs lighter than I am now. I ignored his comments for the first few years, convinced it was his problem, not mine. (BTW, I should point out to you that my father, my grandmother, my great-aunt, and said boyfriend were all overweight.) One night we were over at his brother’s house and we’d finished dinner. I asked his 3 year old niece if she wanted ice cream. He then turned to me and said, “I don’t think either of you need ice cream.” I knew exactly what he meant by it. I had the epiphany that even if I chose to continue to ignore him, our children would grow up hearing that from him. I’d have to continue to protect my children in the same way my mother protected me.
The last months of our relationship consisted of him telling him that he thought I’d “let myself go” and that he was no longer attracted to me. I showed him a picture a friend had accidentally taken of me on our vacation in Jamaica and asked how he thought I was fat. He told me because I still had cellulite. I realized then he needed to get help and see a psychiatrist, but he refused. I got on Yahoo Answers (it was popular 6 years ago, maybe not so much now) and explained the situation and asked how to convince him to seek help for our sake. Among the responses was one from a lady, asking me how my father treated me growing up. I was confused by her question, but curious, so we messaged each other a couple of times. She had been in the exact same situation as me and informed me that I actually needed the help equally as much because I continued to allow it to happen to me. I realized she was right. I did one of the hardest things I’d ever done in my life and broke off our 5 year relationship and left our dog and house behind to recreate my life. (Thankfully the breakup was enough of a wake-up call for him that he did get help and is now married and has two children.)
I vowed to never be in a relationship again with a man who treated me like I was unattractive or allow myself to be around such negativity. I saw a therapist to work through my “daddy issues”. I also met a man that delights in me. My KISA makes me feel like I’m the most attractive person in the world. He introduced me to this world of vegetables and eating clean and properly fueling my body. And, he has inspired me to push my body to do things I’ve done before. He has never once talked about me being fat or him being fat or either of us needing to lose weight. He doesn’t care about those things.
I didn’t realize the influence he had until we were riding home from Tahoe on Saturday afternoon. I proclaimed to him then how much I loved my body. (Could I make a list of things I don’t like about it if I look long and hard at it? Of course. Even Giselle could. But why do that?) I’m inspired by what my body is able to do. My body reacts to how I treat it. If I eat junk, it feels like junk. If I’m healthy, I have tons of energy. If I am tired a half a mile into my run, but push through it, I know my body will respond and complete the rest of my run. If I get a full night’s sleep, my body and joints feel rested. If I’m running late for the train, I know my legs will be strong enough to bike fast enough and still make it. My body’s remarkable. I’m disappointed it took me 30 years to realize this.