Monday, August 18, 2008

Age 42

When I was 13, the boys taunted me about my upturned nose. They called me "Miss Piggy" and it devastated me. I begged my mother for a nose job for my birthday, but she would just get angry and tell me they were jerks and to ignore them. I was much too sensitive to ignore them and so my depression grew. A few years later, when I was 18 and trying very hard to be as pretty as I could be, a car drove by me, full of those same boys and they yelled out, "You're still ugly!" My anguish led me to toy with the idea of suicide. I felt too ugly to live. When I was 24, after another insult was thrown at me, I finally got a nose job. At first I felt completely different. I thought my life was changed forever, but it wasn't. I still felt ugly. At 34 I was diagnosed with BDD, put on Prozac and ordered to stop mirror checking. I have since gained 50 pounds, but mostly don't care about how I look. Other things occupy my thoughts now. But I still don't feel pretty, and I still wish I was.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Age 32

My earliest memory of my body was feeling shame because I knew I was bigger than all the other girls my age. That feeling has never left me, despite the fact that I am a "normal" size, although it’s hard to really say what the word normal means any more. I imagine that some women would think my body was perfect and others would think I was too big. Either way, I have fought like hell to regain my self esteem and love myself. I now can say from an intellectual level that my body is normal, but the feeling of shame is something that is burned into my being. It’s an old wound, that despite years of healing, still bears its mark on my soul the way a scar will forever stay on a person's skin.

In my short 32 years, I have struggled with a 13 year eating disorder; been on every diet known to man; spent countless dollars (I imagine it is far into the thousands at this point) on products designed to make me believe I would love myself more once I consumed them; and wasted more time than I care to imagine hating my body for being something other than what it was. My body image has consumed me to the point that I can say it has probably gotten more attention than anything else in my life. That statement makes me sad just writing it.

I am not unlike any of you. If you met me you would find me "normal", with a good job, a nice home and a nice family. I am a typical American woman...and I am angry that I have abandoned myself in search of being "perfect." There are times I think this struggle is something I will live with for a lifetime, but if that is the case, then I am willing to fight. I will fight because with each passing year I am tired, and I am ready to finally love myself for being alive and being strong enough to put up with the senseless crap we women have to endure just to feel "good enough." I hope everyone reading this is fighting too. Hopefully, we can make small steps towards change.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Age 22

I'm 5'3" and 125lbs - and I hate it. My sister is two years older, one inch taller and twenty pounds lighter.

Growing up, I was the "thick" or "solid" of the two. My sister and I were nearly identical, even mistaken for one another in high school, except for our weight.

I know I'm not fat, but I've got these hideous saddle-bag thighs! I hate them. My love handles are kinda sexy, though.

Then comes the boobs. My weight once reached around 135, and then dropped back to 120-125. And in the process, my boobs deflated and now resemble balloons half filled with water, just hanging from chest. I can even hold a pencil in the fold beneath them.

IN CLOTHES, I look alright. But naked, I feel sick. I see old paintings in museums of nude women: elegant and curvy. Today's women are stick-thin. I wish REAL women could be considered beautiful. Then maybe I could look in the mirror without shame.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Age 27

I was first told I was fat by my sister and father. My father liked really skinny girls. He once told my husband on the phone that his favorite females were 13 or 14, "just blooming." My husband got off the phone shaken and disturbed. When he told me, I said "I told you so." My father is part of the reason we have yet to have children.

My father has an eating disorder himself. He goes through binge/starve cycles and has always been obsessed with his weight. As kids, he rationed our food and told us what to eat. He didn't keep much food for us in the house. I think these years played a huge role in me developing an eating disorder. There were many days I ate less than 400 - 600 calories. For a time, I was also bulimic. Bulimia was private, whereas fat was out there for everyone to see and judge you.

I feel I stunted my growth. I am 5'3" and the same height as both my grandmothers who grew up during the Depression and then WWII rationing. I think I could have been taller, healthier and more proportionate had I eaten properly in my formative years. I think I may have weakened my heart putting my body through too much stress and not eating properly.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Age 50

"Your thighs are getting too big, better watch it."

"Your grandmother was built like you, she fought it all her life."

I understand now that these things were important to women during the depression, and my parents were trying to be helpful, but it made such a HUGE impression on me. I have learned to accept my muscular thighs and small waist - it is hard to find jeans that fit, and I have never found a pair comfortable. Now that I have been living with M.S. for 10 years and have trouble walking sometimes, my strong thighs are part of what is keeping me upright.