I started this post forever ago and haven't been able to write it.
So many jumbled thoughts in my head and an understanding that this is a topic that is hard to talk about because whatever I say, it has the potential to hurt someone's feelings in some way.
But body image. It's a thing. And seeing as a lot of yesterday's age post really relates to me feeling like I LOOK "old" and that that, really, is body image too, I figure I may as well try to babble something out here.
I can't remember the last time I genuinely liked the way I looked but it probably was some time before I turned 11 or 12.
Why? Well, when I was in grade 7 I started to get acne. Pretty badly too.
I was dancing, fairly seriously, at the same time and starting to compare my body to the taller, thinner, more flexible, stronger dancers.
I had a serious injury the year I was 12 and my body took advantage of the recuperation time and threw puberty and curves my way.
Curves don't work in the world of classical ballet and all of a sudden my face was ugly and my body was wrong and I couldn't even find my balance anymore. Literally. (When you go from a flat chest to having breasts overnight, it's hard to find your center of balance for pirouettes.)
Those of you who struggled with bad skin in high school know that it affects how you think of yourself in a major major way.
I was never able to see past the spots on my skin and figured no one else could either. I was ugly. Hideous on bad days. Tolerable on good days, but uncomfortable in my body and so I'd try to hide it. Hunched shoulders, baggy sweaters, whatever it took to make me blend and disappear.
I look back now on photos my parents took on a family trip to Hawaii when I was in grade 10 and I am blown away by how amazing my body was.
I had a stunning figure, thin but with curves. A tiny waist, but full breasts.
Dear lord if only I'd known.
I wish I'd known.
But I didn't see it. I didn't come anywhere close to seeing it.
I was still dancing and the best girls, the girls who got the solos and the partners and the girls who got the boyfriends were thin. Rake thin and my curves were so ugly compared to them and their lines.
And my skin. Everywhere I looked there was my face, red and raw glaring back at me.
You know how it is with your face, you get one little spot and you swear it's all anyone can see. So imagine being a self conscious teen aged girl with lots of spots on her face and just think about what she must have thought everyone saw.
It took me a long long time to stop hiding my body. It took me until a few years ago to actually buy clothes that fit instead of clothes that are a few sizes too big but work to hide things I imagined I saw.
When I look back at photos of myself now I can see how beautiful it was. But when I look at myself today I can see all the parts I want to rip apart.
The belly that's no longer smooth and flat. The arms that have those floppy parts I never wanted. The wrinkles that I'm supposed to want to fight on my face. I can see thighs that aren't tiny and calves that can't fit in to regular sized boots.
But there's also a part of me that knows that if I think my body's big or ugly now, I'll be looking back at pictures of me in twenty years and wishing I knew how hot I was.
Because I don't think they teach us that.
I don't think they teach us that our body is only ever going to change.
We're told that puberty will bring changes and weirdness and then I think a lot of us spend the rest of our lives fighting to hold on to the body we had then.
I was a hundred and twenty pounds when I got my driver's license.
A hundred and twenty pounds and I still thought I was ugly. Probably told myself I was fat too.
I fight a lot to get back down towards that weight. To get back to a point where I can fit back into the size four grad dress I still keep in the back of my closet.
But me at a hundred and twenty pounds now would not be a healthy sight.
So why am I still struggling with my weight? Why am I still fighting to lose ten, fifteen pounds when people keep telling me I look great and asking if I've lost weight? (Which, no, I haven't, but thanks)
Because no one told me my body would never be the same.
No one told me that I should expect a different body every five or ten years.
No one told my Mom that either. Pictures of my Mom in her bikini after my birth are not the same body shape that my Mom has now, and she's not happy with that.
We need to tell each other this. We need to teach the next generation of girls that you only get that body shape for a while. That you need to enjoy it now because you'll have some slightly different version to learn to love soon.
I think we maybe all have body image issues, men too, so the question is, how do we learn to love ourselves how we look? And how do we learn to adjust to the changes our body has to go through and to accept the extra pounds that may come or the lines that turn into wrinkles.
How do we learn to be beautiful in the body our age brings us to?
How do we learn to know we're attractive as we are?
And how can I look at myself and not want to see the body of me at sixteen? A body I didn't know enough to be proud of at the time.
How do we stop being so cruel to ourselves?
And how do we find a balance between wanting to improve our bodies and accepting that we'll never be where we once were. . .