I have always struggled with body image. I have looked in the mirror and loathed the person staring back at me. I can remember spending hours lying in bed naked, in the middle of winter, next to a wide open window, just hating everything about myself. Wishing I wasn’t alive. I would hear men around me use words like “cow” and “doughy” in reference to curvy women. My weight always made me feel ugly.
As I started my journey of self discovery, I realized, my physical appearance was not what was weighing me down. It was the weight of worrying about what other people thought, the weight of always trying to make other people happy, the weight of not knowing who I really was, because I would always morph into whoever people wanted me to be. The weight was literally pushing me down into the ground and burying me alive. My anxiety was so high, I could barely leave the house. I would sit in a closet and cry. I would go outside in a thunderstorm and pray to get struck by lightening. I am not sure if anyone around me realized just how bad it got. I prayed every night to not wake up.
Then, my life was turned upside down. I was no longer someone’s wife. My kids were growing and it was time to let them fly. I was forced to get to know myself. To learn who I was. It also meant I had to look at the person I loathed the most, in the mirror. Every day, I took a long hard look at her. At first, I would look at her and curse and scream and cry. But I would start finding things, each day, to be proud of. The little extra chin, that was from eating the popcorn with extra butter when my kids took me to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 with them. So, that extra chin, it’s a reminder that my kids love me so much. That extra roll in my back, well, that’s from going out and having a drink with a girlfriend. I rarely kept up with friends, so getting out, was a big deal for me. A success.
I was starting to remember the carefree, silly girl I once was. She was coming out as a strong, kind woman who realized it didn’t matter what people thought her and that she couldn’t possibly please everyone. Loving who I am on the inside, that was the easy part, once I got to meet the real me. Working on what I saw in the mirror, that was the hardest thing. Sometimes, it’s still difficult.
You see, all too often, women are shown that beauty comes in a skinny body. I was not looking to lose my curves so I could love myself. I have known conditional love and I no longer want that in my life. The people I let in my life, myself included, will love me with no conditions. Curvy, thin, healthy, sick, happy, sad…the people that I have kept in my life, love me unconditionally. So I continued to force myself to look at myself in the mirror. “Look at that roll. That’s from all the meals my parents fed me as they supported me during the most difficult times in my life.”
“That belly, yes, it hangs over. A reminder of feeling two of the most amazing people in my life grow inside me.” I will gladly carry that reminder. “The bloated belly, that could be a good reminder of an amazing weekend of overeating, overdrinking, and laughter and love with my tribe.”
“That thigh flab, from a super fun evening with my sister, being silly.”
“Look at the way the skin under my arms moves. Maybe that’s from saying I craved mac and cheese, and coming home to three different kinds made by someone who loves me very much.”
So, whether my weight is up or down, my body is a roadmap to the incredible journey of my life. It’s a reminder of my strength and my resilience. I survived things I really didn’t know I could. So, if find that I am doubting myself, I give myself a gentle reminder that my body is my trophy of all I have survived, of all the love and support I both have and give. And that, is an easy thing to love. My curves are BEAUTIFUL.