I’m not really fat. At least not as fat as I THINK I am.
Or maybe I am… maybe I’m actually FATTER than I think I am.
I’ll never know the truth, my self-image is distorted beyond repair.
I think most women (and many men) can relate, you think you look one way, then you get a quick glance in a passing mirror, or in a window reflection, and you don’t even recognize yourself. More times than not, the person looking back is heavier than you thought.
It happens a lot. I think, how could I let myself get like this?
But then, time for a little perspective. I’m really only about 20-25lbs over weight. I mean, I could lose 40 lbs, but for my frame, it would be way too thin. To look my best, I’m sure 20-25 lbs would be perfect.
Then I’m reminded of once when I WAS 25 lbs lighter, I thought “if only I was 10 lbs thinner.”
It’s a vicious cycle that never ends. But how did it start? When was the first time I looked in the mirror and hated the person looking back at me? When did my insecurities begin? When was the tipping point?
Fifth grade, I was 10 years old.
I’ve always felt inferior to my peers. My perceived weight was only part of it. The fact that I was the only “black” child in an all white school played a huge role, but that’s a different article altogether.
So I was always different. I stood out. My hair was different, my clothes were not as cool as everyone else’s, my family looked much different than others. These differences I was growing to embrace: I was unique, an individual.
But then there was my weight. Looking back, I know I wasn’t even overweight. I wasn’t a fat child by any definition of the word, but I wasn’t a stick either. I was healthy. I ate healthy foods, along with the usual childhood fare of candy, chips and soda. I exercised daily, rode my bike everywhere, walked to and from school, swam every day during the summer. So how did this all start? My mother, I think.
I can vividly remember, it was the summer of 1983. I had just gone swimming. I was standing on our deck, dripping wet still, and my mother looked me up and down and said, “Wow, you look like you lost a few pounds!” Up until that moment, I hadn’t even realized that I needed to lose a few pounds. What to some may sound like a great compliment, for me, began a lifelong struggle with weight, body-image and self-esteem.
My mother’s own self-image issues were passed on to me. I’m not trying to blame my life-long struggle with my body-image issues on my mother, but she played a big role. She would tell me I could stand to lose five pounds. She was the one who called me “chunky” and I would overhear her talking about me to other people, comparing me to my beautifully undernourished niece.
So then started my addiction to dieting. My first diet was later that year in 6th grade, I was 11. I only wanted to lose 10 pounds. Now here I am, 23 years later, still trying to lose those same 10lbs, plus a few more.
My addiction to dieting isn’t so much the issue for me anymore. I think if I do lose the weight, then great. If I don’t lose it, or if I only lose half of it, that’s okay too. I think I look pretty good for my age, my husband thinks I’m hot. I’m healthy and I can still chase my kids around. I’m okay, like this.
My worry is that I have two beautiful and perfect little girls, and I feel like I will have failed as a mother if I pass my body-image issues onto them. I want to set a good, healthy example for my girls. I want them to see a mother who is beautiful at any size, a mother who loves herself, and loves them unconditionally. I want them to grow up with a self-love that I never had.
So far, I think I’m doing an okay job. I think my awareness of my own issues will keep me from making the same mistakes my own mother made. At least, that’s my hope.