I want to talk about this photo. Which is weird. Normally I wouldn’t even want to look at this photo or think about it at all. On any ordinary day I’d delete this image as soon as I laid eyes on it…but something changed.
Yes, the photo is blurred for this article. After writing this and posting I took it down because I felt sticky. Two reasons, allow me to explain…
This photo was taken by my husband and is FOR him, essentially. While I’m in a bikini and other people on the beach saw me in said bikini, I felt odd sharing something my husband intended to be for himself. So, sure, you can’t REALLY see much. In the end the point of this is not to show off the photo but to talk about my progress, the space I’m in, and the waxing and waning of the feelings I have about myself.
The other thing I want to mention about posting this blog and taking it down is this: I felt really good when I first posted it…remarkable…I was in a high about how free I felt from the chains of body dysmorphia. THEN, I slept on it. AND, I woke up and took it down. It felt like a lie. What changed? Well, I stepped on the scale and it wrecked me. Funny thing is, I can guess my weight down to the tenth most days (if this doesn’t prove the real problem I’ve had I’m not sure what does). I KNEW I was heavier that day, I knew, and I still let it devastate me. Two steps forward and six back. Today I called to make a therapy appointment because something like this is important for me to hash out. I don’t like to weigh myself but ever-so-often I do…just keeping myself in check, and one day, I’ll get past that too. When you read this, please know all these words are true. Some days are harder than others…but I’m getting there. These words were my truth in this moment, moments pass, some stay longer than others, it’s a process and the lines are blurry.
If you’re unfamiliar with my painstaking expedition through the wild, and often dreadful, world of body dysmorphia – I first recommend you go back to read some of my past blogs to get your bearings and fully understand what I’m about to say. Completely up to you though. It’s not rocket science. Matter of fact it IS indeed science but a different kind entirely. And, if you’re reading this I’d place any bet at any table that you too have experienced a little body dysmorphia at one point or another. And, if you still experience it – if you still pick yourself apart – I suggest you continue to read this bit – and go back to read more. I recommend the letters to my body (parts 1 & 2 specifically).
While recently vacationing in a place where wearing swim attire is necessary (already slightly dreadful but I made it), Rylan took this photo of me (among many others)…when I saw the photos I didn’t have my usual visceral reaction. I didn’t feel the same pangs and dread I’ve felt for decades looking at my body. I just laughed and said “well isn’t your wife a little snack”. 🤭
Y’all, I am FORTY ONE years old as I write this. Over the last 4 years I have turned myself completely inside out and am a different human. In all the good ways. Most incredibly, I really, truly, love myself. It’s the wildest thing and I probably will never stop being braggadocios about it. NOT because I’ve somehow gained a conceited mentality but because of you. Because I have so many friends and people I love who I see suffering every day. So many of you trying to shrink your bodies to fit into some social construct all the while trying to do more and be less and I love you too much to watch it forever.
My big turning point (or one among many I should say) was a couple years ago hearing someone I love who is in their 60s talk about a diet, going on a diet, needing to diet, etc. I didn’t say anything in the moment, and still have never had a conversation one-on-one with them (maybe one day) but for a week I found myself saying “My god, is this life?! Is this what we do? Do we have to hate ourselves and our bodies our whole lives?!”….obviously the answer is no, we do not have to be unhappy with our bodies forever.
What a relief right??!!
There are some people out there who never give it a thought and some who have a healthy balance – because there is a line. I’m not going to ever say “just be fat!”….but what if we just be US? Everyone is different and happiness looks different for all of us. What I’m saying is, you’re you, be that, love that.
I remember being 10 or so and telling my doctor I wanted to be 5’8” (no idea why). He laughed to tears and told me “you’ll be lucky to be 5’3” darling”. You want to know who is 5’8”….some of my besties, and my sister. Am I jealous ? Nope! Do I still want to be 5’8”? Sure, sometimes, or sometimes I just want a stool to reach something up high in the store 🤣
Turns out my height would be the least of my struggles growing up. Maybe Dr. Thompson should’ve told me “thick thighs save lives” ….maybe if he told me I’d never have dimples (the ones on my face not the ones on my ass – I’ve got plenty of those 🤣) or slender legs, or a small backside – maybe this excursion would’ve been a little less adventurous with a little warning I wouldn’t be society’s picture of perfection 🤣 alas, here we are.
For 30-something years I picked myself apart. Piece by piece. I tried it all. I nearly killed myself bending over backwards to meet a goal that’s not only completely asinine because there’s simply no way to even tell you what I wanted, but a goal that also is the silliest in all of the land. Literally. Bananas.
Back to the point. I heard this person I love and admire, who is knocking on the door to SEVENTY, talking about their diet and I said “self, fuuuuuuck this noise!” And, I quit.
It did not happen overnight but it happened.
I promised myself I would no longer diet. I would no longer talk about myself negatively even in a joking manner. I would no longer look in every reflection and judge myself. I would no longer compare myself to others because our genetics aren’t the same. I promised myself I would give myself grace every single second and if I faltered I would pick my ass (the dimpled one) back up and fix it.
So here I was, scared to death at the first glance of these photos in a bikini but I smiled WHAT?!?! Who am I?!
I can’t tell you how long it took or what the whole process was but reading through my past blogs you can get an idea. It’s been hard. It’s hard to step back from it all and see the effort people around me put in at the gym or in meal planning and not go right back to it. It’s so hard. I am a competitive person y’all and you better believe I can meal prep better than you, like a boss. I will kill myself in a workout harder than you any day of the week son! So ya, it’s still hard, but easier every day.
My effort looks different now. It’s full of therapy and journaling and reading and alone time. It’s filled with time with people who I don’t have to talk about meal planning and workout schedules with (other than a HEALTHY amount). My effort is not visible to anyone outside of myself.
Now I’m working on functioning better in this space. Being a better person where I am currently at. It would be impossible to have a life full of people who don’t diet and exercise. So my struggles are different now.
I have to set boundaries…lots and lots of them. I talk openly about therapy and what I’m doing (clearly) and most people don’t understand it. Now, where I’m at, I don’t understand not eating what fills your soul and not taking a whole week off working out because fuck it all some weeks, right?! My struggle is not negatively reacting to those who aren’t loving themselves the same way I love myself. If someone comes at me with “I can’t eat that because I’m on a diet” (as a VERY broad example of a wet blanket 👈🏼 SEE!) my knee jerk reaction is unfavorable in a public setting. So, I’m working on supporting the people I love but also supporting my psyche. The balance is prickly. I’ll get there, I just don’t know what it looks like yet.
This all to say – there’s really no right way to love yourself. Truly. According to the scale I’m nowhere near my “lightest weight” when this photo was taken and I still smile. That in itself is progress…the recognition alone. Honestly though, if you find yourself in those pineapple percussions (doldrums, thanks Ted Lasso)- I encourage you to read my words, please believe what I’m saying, and please know – you don’t have to be a certain way. You can love yourself just as yourself, just as you are, and it can be alright.
Till next time friends, stay beautiful.
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