Archive for category Body Image
I went clothes shopping with a friend this week since it’s been awhile since I’ve gotten any new clothes and my wardrobe has been looking a little bare and stagnant. It was a weird experience. I think I might have talked about over the past 2 years since I left my abusive marriage, my body has been changing. I dropped some weight and my body shape has become much more lean. Since the marathon training and the past couple months, my body has yet again shed some pounds and gotten even more lean. But, my mind has not exactly caught up with this. My shopping experience testified to this.
A sales lady was helping me in one of the stores and asks, “What size are looking for?” I was looking at toothpick cords and toothpick dress pants, something I would have never thought would work on me but wanted to try. I say a size 30 aka an 8. She looks me up and down and goes, “No way! You are not a size 8. You are more like a size 4.” I look at her in disbelief. Really? So I compromise with her and take size 6’s back to the fitting room and try them on and show her, and she’s like, “See! I’m right, you’re a size 4” and proceeds to go get me the right size. She was right. They fit and looked so much better.
The thing is I still don’t see myself as a smaller person. I still look in the mirror some days and think I’m huge. And then other days some girl sits next to me on the bus who I think is so tiny and fit, and then I realize, holy cow, I look just like her.
I was getting dressed for work yesterday, and I had noted the last time I wore this pair of pants they were starting to swim on me. But, I put them on and was like there’s no way I can wear these. They’re too big. So the other unfortunate side effect to shrinking is having to buy new clothes. But, talking about it therapy, I’d like to think the reason I’m shrinking in body fat percentage is because I am getting better from trauma. Stress increases cortisol which signals your fat cells to hold onto their fat stores. There are several scientific studies and articles conducted about this. I’d like to think that’s what’s happening. But, part of me still feels my body image is still not right. Maybe I am really fat? Maybe I’m not? Who knows? I know having hard facts like weight and body fat percentage helps me verify whether my perception is right or not. And right now they’re telling me I’m very healthy and pretty lean. I could use some yoga to tone up and build other muscle. But, otherwise I think I’m pretty happy with myself.
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.