It took my reaction to one photograph. That’s when I knew I had a problem with body image which is why I wanted to share
my body image issue.
It was several years ago and a well-known artist (I don’t remember who, or what kind of artist she was) was being profiled.
There was a lovely photo of her wearing a white sundress in a field of wild flowers. She may have even been dancing.
I thought, “Gosh, that dress isn’t very flattering. She could definitely look thinner.”
She looked beautiful, free and happy. The picture itself was perfectly lit and framed with the light hitting her hair just right. And all I could think about was the way she was dressed made her look five pounds heavier??
That moment has stuck with me because it opened my eyes to the idea that I placed way too much value on looking thin.
I realized the message I’d been telling myself was, “One should always try to look as thin as possible.” Not stylish, pretty, sassy or feminine…THIN.
Buy the dress that makes you look thin. Wear the most slimming colors. Avoid styles that accentuate your trouble spots. Draw attention to your small areas. It’s all about THIN.
Can you relate?
You know how it is…the constant commentary on everyone’s weight. Whether an in-law or a celebrity, it’s hard to resist mentioning that someone gained (or lost) weight.
We’re always sizing people up.
In the time since my revelation, I’ve helped hundreds of women look and feel more confident. Every time I sit face to face with a woman, whether for a friendly lunch or a makeover, I am struck by how beautiful she is. And that has nothing to do with how thin she is.
Now I refuse to participate in conversation’s about people’s weight. It’s pointless. Women struggle with thyroid issues, hormone fluctuations, stress and failed diets. Women gain and lose based on the season, their cravings or their access to baked goods. Some women prefer to be very slim, others embrace their curves!
I know women who battle their bodies to be a certain size. Don’t we all know someone who always has five more pounds to lose?
My favorite scene from “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” is when Gilbert’s girlfriend finally meets his 500+ pound mama. Mama says to her apologetically, “I haven’t always been like this.”
The girlfriend, a trim twenty-something, replies, “I haven’t always been like THIS.”
None of us have been this way for long.
My weight has fluctuated wildly over the years, from the low 120s when I still struggled with anxiety and loss of appetite postpartum up to 178 when I started Weight Watchers (then later, my highest pregnancy weight at 180). I don’t mind giving you the numbers because the numbers have never mattered to me.
When you have positive body image, your size is inconsequential. When you have poor body image, your size often defines you.
I wear a smaller dress size now than I did to my senior prom but when I look in the mirror, it’s hard not to focus on the flab left over from carrying three full-term babies.
Being thin hasn’t changed my life. Who knew??
I’ve always been pretty secure in my identity. I still know how to dress and accessorize to look balanced and stylish. And I still have to remind myself that being thin isn’t the key to a happy life.