Friday, October 30, 2009

Age 59

When I look in the mirror, I see an abundance of laugh lines that reveal a long, happy, healthy life. There has been heartache and strife, but these lines remind me of all that has been good – shared laughter with family and friends, celebrations…and triumphs. It is easy to fall into a pattern of focusing on that which is bad…my laugh lines are a constant reminder that there has been so much good.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Age 23

I'm a 23 year old Black Woman and my body has only recently truly become a part of me. I’ve spent most of my life wishing for a different body and feeling uncomfortable in my own skin because I didn’t understand or appreciate my body as much as I do now; but better late than never as they say.

It struck me though, that apart from female family members and a few friends, I didn’t have much support growing up. I’m talking about the kind of support that says ‘the way you’re feeling about your body today is normal because I’ve felt it too.’ Each female body is special but its problems hardly are. I appreciate The Body Image Project for this reason. I wanted to do something to prove that solidarity among women, particularly black women, concerning body image issues is possible and necessary to build body conscious confidence, as I call it. This is how Girl, It’s Not Just You was born – a site focused on the body image and consciousnesses of black woman, regardless of age, skin tone or nationality. It is an effort to share our problems such that we understand that the various things we experience are not unique to us as individuals.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Age 22

I grew much faster than those around me. By the time I was 10, I was 5 feet - 3 inches and 220 pounds. I was fat. Plain and simple, I was unhealthy. I never managed to feel comfortable in my skin while in school, and as a result, I isolated myself and ate food for something to do when I was bored and lonely. By the time I graduated from high school, I had arrived at 280 pounds of unhealthy, unhappy 18 year old girl.

Then, I went to college and was forced to walk a couple miles per day to get to and from my classes and somehow I managed to begin to focus less on my appearance and how it was perceived. I was a girl doing something healthy - exercise every day! I could walk miles more than my peers without getting exhausted. I began to appreciate the things my body could do, and began to love it. My legs were amazing for being able to carry me. With that mentality, I started to try to see how much it could do. I started exercising much more often - taking up new sports. I began to love every inch of myself. My big thighs are muscles that can take me miles on my bicycle. My round butt is screaming with a megaphone how many hundreds of stairs I climbed in Europe, and my large arms testify to the fact that I swim for miles every week. Every inch of me tells my story. While numbers aren't important, I want to share for those of you out there who are still large - I am saying these things while still weighing in at 220 pounds. 220 pounds of strong woman who loves the look on people's faces when they see this beautiful body climbing out of the pool after 100 laps!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Age 19

I'm 19 years old. I live in this weird fluctuation of loving the way I look and hating it, and I don't know why. Sometimes I think I have a great hourglass figure, and feel like a million bucks. Other times, like today, I feel like my stomach and thighs and hips are monstrous, and would tear ten pounds of fat off my body if I could. I constantly compare myself to other girls, trying to find things about them that aren't as good as mine, and then woefully deciding that I'm just looking for excuses to cover how much I really don't like my body. The scale says I'm healthy - 5'4" and 125 pounds - but I just can't bring myself to be content with my body most of the time. I usually strut my stuff with non-existent confidence so that what I feel like I lack in the shape department can be replaced with self-assuredness. I get compliments on my smile, hair or eyes, but I feel like I'm never noticed for having a nice body, and therefore tend to think it's not so great. At least I know in my head that I'm healthy, really, and need to learn to appreciate that.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Age 32

When I look in the mirror, I see a strong, beautiful woman who glows from the inside out. I’m not an ideal beauty – I’m marked with imperfections. But I have a smile that can light up a room…and eyes that radiate love. I’ve learned to love myself.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Age 25

I find myself the most depressed when I am at the gym. I feel like no matter how hard I try, I’ll always be the big girl. I don’t want to be thin. I would settle for average.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Age 16

I have always had a weight problem. I was an overweight baby. I am now an overweight teen. Growing up, my parents were always positive and supportive - ignoring the problem of having an unhealthy child. I don't blame my parents, but I wish we had conversations about my weight as a child instead of pretending the problem didn't exist. Maybe I could have learned healthier habits. Maybe I wouldn't have felt like such an outcast. Maybe I could have been happy.

I can't remember a day when I haven't been teased about my weight/looks. Every night, I cry myself to sleep, dreading the fact that I have to go back to school. I am so sad. So depressed. I hate myself. I hate being/feeling so alone, but I can't stand the thought of being outside. I feel safer in my room where I don't have to hear the cruel words of my peers…where there are no longer any mirrors to remind me of my weight.

I've tried dieting, but it's so easy to get discouraged. And when I get discouraged and sad, I eat. I have been sad my entire life...and I eat. And eat. And in the morning, I put on my oversized clothes and a smile and pretend everything is OK when I'm really dying on the inside.