This week I had a major break-through on one of the symptoms of abuse that I do not talk about much. That is body image. Since I was a child, I have always had a distorted body image of myself. I always thought I was obese and ugly. When I look back at pictures of myself as a kid, I don’t think I was fat or ugly at all. Yet, to this day, I still struggle with my body image and still think I am fat. I know this is not true, but it’s hard for me to believe it. This week I had my biometrics done. All of my numbers were perfect and like an athlete’s. The nurse said, “You are the picture of health.” To hear this and to have hard factual numbers to back it up had a huge impact on my perception of myself and body image.
I thought through my entire life history and the struggles I have had with body image. When I was in grade school, I was made fun of for being “fat” because I was my full height and size by then. When I was in high school, I struggled with anorexia and an unhealthy exercise regimen. When I was in college, I hid my body in unattractive clothes, did not fit in, and spent all my free time running. I understand being picked on in grade school, never fitting in, and being raped in college all attributed to my negative body image.
I have come a long way since then on improving my body image, but I still have a lot of insecurity around it. Two years ago I would have never been caught in public in a swimsuit and now I push myself to just not worry about it so I can train for a triathlon in one. I would have never worn short sleeves either and now I do a lot more frequently. Years ago I wouldn’t eat any foods with any fat in it. Now I understand that good fat is essential to my nutrition. When I have an injury now, instead of just pushing through it and not taking care of it, I force myself to take care of it so I can continue my training later without injury and find other activities I can do in the meantime.
I am hoping that hearing solid proof that I have no reason to have a negative body image sticks with me and I can continue to work on my positive body image.