BodyPositive® Boosting body image at any weight

Forum #16:
Thinking Outside the Body
Disparagement Box

There are some moments when the light bulb goes off, when you suddenly can see the whole body image thing from a different angle.  You can see what a blessing your body is, or you experience a oneness with it, or you feel on the same team.  These are moments when you transcend the culture's lessons and can listen to your own experience, and they are precious!

I was coming back to college after a summer of eating water-packed tuna and laying in the sun, and as I walked back to my dorm I realized I could feel my hipbones again. (Hipbones, for me, emerged at about a size 14). I was startled to recognize that I was "thin again."  How had I not been present this whole summer?  I felt like I was coming awake in my body after being gone for months. This was my third round of weight loss/weight gain, and all of a sudden I felt completely ridiculous. I thought, "What am I doing this for?  I'm just going to gain it back over the winter.  It has got to be harder on my body to lose and gain 25 pounds every year than to stay heavier.  And what is the purpose of this, exactly?  When I am at the college I want, with the boyfriend I want . . exactly what is being thinner supposed to do for me again?"  It was a truly liberating moment, and I resolved then to never diet again.  Sure enough, my weight went back up but it stayed essentially stable for the next 10 years.  I am so grateful that I got on with my life!

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Your comments (more recent at the end):
I had been friends with this girl for months and considered her very beautiful, very sure of herself.  She had this cute boyfriend and this great social life and I wished I could be more like her. The thing is, I was WAY too fat and ugly to be like that, and my life couldn't possibly begin until I lost weight. 

(At least that's what I'd always thought...)
Except that one day we went shopping for clothes together and I discovered SHE wore a larger size than ME! And she didn't seem to care! I mean, sure she tried to eat healthy in general like any normal person but she never tried dieting.

Looking at her I realized her size had never even registered with me, because it was irrelevant.  She is a beautiful healthy person, even if she isn't thin, and that is how she has always presented herself.

I cannot put it into words... the feeling that came with the realization that I had been all wrong! After that I started looking carefully at people I knew - 
who was happy, who had a good career, who had a good love life, and who was thin.
Guess what? NO correlation between the latter and the first three! 

And THAT changed my life more than any amount of weight loss ever could.
Even when I was younger and very thin, I never felt pretty.
Now I know that IT'S ALL IN OUR HEADS!
I have been a yo-yo dieter since about the age of 8. I am now 47. My most recent weight loss was 2 years ago, when I flung myself wholeheartedly into low fat eating and compulsive exercising. I managed to lose 20 pounds or so, but I really did not weigh myself as I was "done" with dieting - or so I thought.

I managed to fool myself into thinking I was not "dieting", but rather pursuing a "healthy lifestyle". I recently came across a picture of me taken at Disneyland during this time of weight-loss healthy eating, and I realized that I actually like myself better at my current weight, which is considerably heavier than I was back then. I am still me - no matter what my size. I am no better, no worse, at a lower weight than I am at my present weight. I am free of body obsession, and able to get on with all the gifts in my life. 

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Recognizing my body for what it truly is has been an difficult challenge in the last couple of years. Having convinced myself that 79 pounds was normal and 'perfect' got in the way of enjoying my life to the fullest. Now, as I gain the weight back, I am beginning to realize the energy that I have, the emotions that I feel 'in-the-moment' and how incredibly beautiful a healthy body is. I have also learned that one can trust that their body is formed a natural way. 

You have to believe that with a balanced diet and lifestyle your weight will stabilize at one that is appropriate for you. The problem, however, is becoming comfortable with this natural self that you see in the mirror. I think that I have come to realize that what is...IS. I can either accept it or fight it. Fighting it is an unattainable task while accepting it can lead to amazing things! 

I would encourage everyone to ponder on this very thing; Trust your body! Appreciate what it can do for you and enjoy each very moment as though it were a gift. For me, though I haven't shared a specific moment, this realization has occurred over time and I can now see the importance of loving who I am!
I get that "I'm so lucky to have this body" feeling when I take a moment and look at all the time and energy I have now that I don't spend it on worrying about what I eat, how much I weigh, how thin or thinner I look, going to the gym, the purging rituals etc.

I feel alive now...

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I was reading The Color Purple by Alice Walker, and I got to the part where the main character really stands up to her abuser and her life totally changes. At that point I realized that my eating disorder was preventing me from recovering from the abuse that I have suffered. I stopped reading and looked up at the sky and I felt the ground, the wind and the trees cradling me. I felt totally nurtured and alive, just knowing that I have the ability to understand myself. Instead of feeling awkward and painfully uncomfortable in my body, I focused on how safe I was just letting the earth beneath me hold me up. 
When I was growing up, one of my favorite people was my Granny. She adored me and always treated me with unconditional love and kindness. My mother complained about Granny's weight behind her back and told us kids that Granny would be so much happier if she weren't so "overweight and lazy". Being a kid, I didn't know any better and thought my mom must know what she's talking about. But, I still loved my Granny, and she seemed like a happy, contented person, accepting of her body and unafraid of her weight. My mother, on the other hand, was obsessed with fat phobia and self-contempt and basically unhappy with her life. Now that I'm older and have reached my mid-thirties, I can see the situation from a different perspective. My mother was always yo-yo dieting, and I did the same through my teens and early twenties. When I quit dieting, I gained substantial weight (slowly but steadily over several years). I don't eat absurd amounts of food; I get lots of exercise on my job. I am healthier and get sick less than ever before. I look in the mirror, and now I see my genetic inheritance from Granny looking back at me. I understand now that Granny wasn't lazy or an obsessed overeater...she was just herself! She didn't deserve to be treated like less of a person by anyone! I can see my own body changing over time and developing characteristics similar to her, and I can see how strong genetics are in determining body weight! I understand her situation more now, and I wish I had had this wisdom when she was still alive. My resemblance to her is like a special gift--a reminder that in a way she is still with me, and her love and acceptance are gifts that can never be taken away. That's all so much more important than superficial appearances, anyway!

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I used to always hate how I looked. I was always too fat; couldn't fit into the clothes I liked, couldn't imagine anyone wanting me in them even if I could, etc, etc. And why, oh why couldn't I be nice and skinny like the models?

That went on until I was 18. Then...well... I got laid. Now I don't know if that's really something you would want to chalk up to an enlightening experience, but it did. Up until that point, it had not really occurred to me that I could actually be attractive to other people. The next day, I took a really long look at myself and wondered just what was so wrong with me? Yeah, maybe by the media standards I was fat, but I didn't feel unhealthy. I had good blood pressure, cholesterol, all that. I could hike longer and farther than my athlete brother. And I could be cute and beautiful and even sexy just the way I was. So just what was my problem?

I don't know. It went away : )

You know, the weird thing is that after that, I started losing weight. I didn't change anything that I can think of. It just started to disappear. I'm still what would be considered 'overweight' but my clothes keep getting looser. But you know what the weirdest thing is? I really don't care anymore.

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I always felt like such schlump. I never felt I looked good in anything, wore baggy clothes to "hide" myself (like *that* works!) Until I started grad school. A number of women in my class are larger than I am, wear very form fitting clothes (not a neutral/slimming color in
the lot!) and carry themsleves with such an assured attitude that says "Yeah, I'm here. Get
out of my way." Has totally changed how I view myself.

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