Thursday, May 31, 2012

Body Image

Warning, warning:  Another honest Nain post...

I've always struggled with body image.  I honestly don't know why, but I've never really been happy with the way I feel and how I look.  I look in the mirror and see a distorted version of myself.  It's sad, really, but I don't quite know what to do about it.  It is what it is.

It's really sad how it starts.  I always had a little baby fat on me as a kid, and I hated that.  And I was this pale little girl with these freckles all over.  I hated them, too.  It was as early as 4th grade when I was worried about calories and how I ate.  I remembered my 4th grade teacher teaching us in Health about eating healthy and low calories, and she made some statement about how healthy salad dressing with the fewest calories was dressing you could see through like Italian dressing.  As soon as I got home that night I informed my parents that I would only be eating Italian dressing from then on out. 

In high school, I went through a period starting my junior year into senior year where I barely ate a thing.  It started off as just from anxiety and nerves, and then once I started, I just had no desire to eat.  My parents would try anything.  They'd go to Baskin Robbins, buy me a cup of one scoop of ice cream, and that thing would stay in the freezer for a week as I would nibble at it, here and there.  I recall one morning when I made myself a Pop Tart for breakfast, but I threw away most of it, and my mom followed me out of the house confronting me about the fact I didn't eat a thing. 

I constantly compared myself to other girls in my class who I viewed as prettier than me, skinnier than me, and basically better than me.  I worried that I was too fat for any guy to be interested in me.  Even having a serious boyfriend in high school, I still had that worry.  Constantly in my head.  Why would anyone find me attractive? 

In college, I continued the struggle.  When I got mono my sophomore year, I remember getting down to a seriously low weight from being so sick, and yet, still...I thought I was too fat.  And in a sick way, I enjoyed people being worried about my weight being too low.

In law school, I hit a low with my self esteem and found myself desperately depressed.  I put on a significant amount of weight, and I beat myself up daily for it.  But I was so lost in depression that I didn't have any desire to do much of anything, and I found myself eating for comfort.  Grad school is a pretty lonely time, and unfortunately my body, as well as my health, took the brunt of it. 

I did manage to take off that weight, but over the past few years, as I get older, I find it creeping back up again.  Stress, lifestyle changes, medication and not eating as healthy as I should...I'm fighting it all in terms of keeping my weight off.  Not that it got out of control by any means, but still...I still look in the mirror and see someone I'm not proud of.  T constantly tells me I shouldn't and tells me how beautiful I am, just the way I am.  But that's not what I see.  I wish I could see what he sees.

Having a baby, it was hard for me to gain the weight, but I did.  I did manage to keep it in the healthy range, gaining about 30 lbs in the pregnancy, but now that Aubrey is here, I find myself hating my body even more. 

I'm probably much too hard on myself.  It took nine months for me to gain that weight, I certainly can't expect it to just fall off.  I try to remind myself I shouldn't complain because others do have it harder than me, and some people will look at me and say I'm crazy and that I'm just seeking attention when I complain about my weight.  My response to them is honestly, I'm not.  It's truly how I feel, and it's something I struggle with every day.  When I don't get the chance to exercise, for some reason I feel anything I eat that day is just going to cause me to gain a ton of weight, and I'll lose so much by taking one day off.  Why?  Because I'm crazy, I guess.

I'm not sure what has made me want to write this post.  I think part of it is therapy in a way.  Putting my thoughts out about my struggle with PPD a couple weeks ago lifted a weight off of my shoulder.  So here I am, the good, bad, and ugly - this is me.  It's about as honest as I can get. 

I do hope someday I'll find a way to end this constant battle in my head. 


  1. I'm sorry you struggle with this. I think you speak for so many woman (myself included). I keep trying to keep my eye on the prize. Even though I see this fat, old chick in the mirror I think if I obsessively eat well and exercise I am bound to get the best body of my life, even at this age. Maybe someday I could look in the mirror and think WOW! I did it. The truth is that I've been skinny and I could never see myself as skinny while I was living it. My perception is off & I am not sure how to change it. But now that I started working out & eating better I FEEL better and that makes me see me in a more positive light. Thank you for writing this. Saying it out loud, so to speak, gets the conversation going and this is something so many of us need to work on.

  2. It truly not as easy as looking in the mirror. What you see and what really reflected there are two different things.
    The insidious creep of weight can drive you crazy. Being able to put it out there is half the battle. And look at what that weight brought you. that little girl can make it easier to get through.

  3. Thank you for your honesty! It is so hard to say, "Hey look, I struggle with this and I don't know what to do" so this is a HUGE first step. We can tell you how beautiful, cute, adorable, fantastic you are, but unless you see it, it isn't going to be real for you.

    I have to say, your fourth grade teacher is a douche! I hope you don't get mad at me for that, but that is the age when body dysmorphic issues begin to hit young girls. They used to say 13, but my own personal knowledge and now new studies are saying it actually starts much younger. This whole push for "anti-obesity" kinda scares me. Yes we need to teach youngsters to eat healthy, but making it about weight sets them up for situations like this.

    But I digress. Alaina, the one and only thing I will recommend is finding a competent counselor. Like I said, we can tell you how beautiful you are, but you have to see it because you will always find a reason why we "are supposed" to tell you that. You aren't alone in this fight, and you've taken that biggest, hardest first step of telling someone.

    I am so proud of you for being so open and honest.

    Lily-Thinking Thoughts

  4. You are definitely not alone in this. Luckily, you do have a great support system. T and Aubrey (yes, even at that age, she is a wonderful image booster) are always reminding you how important you are and how beautiful you are to them. The phrase "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder" is always truest especially when looking into a mirror. Dress in a way that makes you feel beautiful and eat healthy. Feel proud of your accomplishments or even the way you applied your eye make up this morning. That stuff mounts just as well and can help decrease negative self image. You're a lister, planner, right? List out what you like!

  5. Thanks for being honest and speaking about this.
    I've always struggled (and am still struggling) with this problem.
    I don't like what I see in the mirror either. And the fact that I've gained weight since December is not helping...

  6. I love that you have the strength to write this post. So many people struggle with this, it is not just you! And it always helps to read that other people deal with the same issues. I've always hated looking in the mirror. In recent years it doesn't make me cringe as much, but it is something I've struggled with since I was young. I would go weeks without more than a quick glance in the mirror in the morning after I got ready, just to make sure I didn't look too bad.

    Anyway, thanks for being so strong! And you are beautiful! It might sound weird, but when I read posts like yours from ladies that are just so lovely, it gives me more strength and hope because they (and you!) obviously don't see themselves clearly


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