Overcoming the Struggle - Article Review/Talk

It all comes crashing in at once, the feeling that my body is not good enough or that I will be judged, because I am a plus size woman. I have done several blogs on this topic before and I will have those linked below for you. What kind of pressure are we putting on ourselves when we compare ourselves to others? What are the long term effects of negative body image? I want to talk about an article I read, and how my negative body image affects my life and the lives of those around me.

Body Image

For many years I have lived with the negative thoughts that I am not enough. That my body is not enough. I thought in order to wear certain clothing, I needed to be a certain size. (Lets throw that concept out the window.) I thought just because a store didn't carry my size, I didn't deserve to shop there. (Wrong again, they don't deserve my business.) I was ashamed of the number on the scale which lead to lying on my driver's license (Who doesn't?!), never stepping on the scales (That just created more anxiety and fear), and criticizing myself when they was any changes in how my clothing fit. (Haven't you ever heard of shrinking in the dryer?!) It never occurred to me that many others out there could be feeling the same way. Nor did it cross my mind that maybe I wasn't the horrible one after all.

Let's dive into the article I read:
"Uncomfortable in our skin: the body-image report" by Eva Wiseman
Image found in article
Photograph: Paul Vozdic/Getty Images

How do you define body image? Is it the way you look at your own body? Is it the way that the world or the fashion industry sees your body? The answer is simple: It is different for each individual. That is what we all are: individuals. Adjectives that describe people range from anything from tall to short, skinny to fat (And yes I am using the word fat), Pale to tan. These words can also be used in body image definitions. The definition of body image that the article gives really struck me as profound.
"Body image is a subjective experience of appearance. It's an accumulation of a lifetime's associations, neuroses and desires, projected on to our upper arms, our thighs."

Just by that definition, my understanding of body image changed. I automatically started thinking about what events in my lifetime do I associate with my thoughts on body image. It made me pose the question: Why is it such a compliment to say to someone, "You look great, have you lost weight?" (Is it so crazy to look great without the link to my weight loss?) Then the emotions of how I felt every time someone would tell me I shouldn't be eating something, that I should choose a salad instead. The list continues for quite a long time, of which I will not bore you with.

Each rude remark, change in clothing size, and continuous pressure to lose weight started a domino effect within myself. I became more worried about what everyone thought about me and my weight. (See even now I give my weight the attention of being separate from who I am.) I started to compare myself with to the other women I saw. I wanted to be thin like "her". I wanted to be tan like "her". I wanted my curves to be alluring like "hers".

"The long-term effects, the piling on of pressures one by one, like a dangerous Jenga tower, means women's – and increasingly men's, 69% of whom "often" wish they looked like someone else – lives are being damaged, not by the way they look but by the way they feel about the way they look."
The resulting pressure was overwhelming. As time went on, the depression set in. And quickly came the pounds to go along with it. (Surprise surprise.) I will be the first to tell you, I have always been a bigger girl since starting school. The coming years were some of the hardest of my life. Looking back, I can see the damage that I have done to myself.

I became obsessed with losing weight. It did not matter how I lost the pounds, just that I did. (More like that someone would notice.) I started taking prescription weight loss drugs, (Yes I call them drugs.) after my doctor chimed in about my weight. It worked. I lost pounds; however, I also lost my appetite, my ability to hold down food, and my dignity. I didn't want anyone to know I was on medication for weight loss. I was ashamed. Long gone were the days I wanted my stomach issues to stop. Suddenly it was helping me to have constant bowel trouble. More weight loss right? (Wrong
"At the Centre for Appearance Research, they discuss with me how invested people have become in their appearance. And how central it now is to the value they place on themselves. We've always compared ourselves to other people, but what has changed is the way we use images. There's a famous study which looked at teenage girls in Fiji after television was introduced to the island for the first time in 1995. After three years with TV, the girls who watched it the most were 50% more likely to describe themselves as "too fat"; 29% scored highly on a test of eating-disorder risk. One girl said of the western women she watched on Beverly Hills 90210: "In order to be like them, I have to work on myself, exercising, and my eating habits should change.""
This behavior went on for years. Way longer than I was supposed to be on the medicine. It became a part of my life and who I was, all because I wanted to be what everyone else thought that I should be. I placed my value in the pounds that I lost, in the number of sizes that I went down, and in how many people would notice that I had lost weight.

You can only begin to image how all of these things effect those around me, the ones that I love. The destruction that I caused myself hurt the ones around me. They were lost and didn't know how to help me. Even now, when I think or speak negatively about myself, I can see the pain and hurt that is causes for my fiance, my children, my friends and family. It isn't just an inflection of pain and torment upon myself.

This article goes on to talk about many more of the issues that arise from the topic of body image. Everything I have said can also be true for a thin woman. They can want to be like someone else just as much as a vulomptuous woman. Men are not left out of these feelings. They too can feel the pressure from others and the media to have a perfect sculpted body.

The value of a life should not to measured in pounds, inches, or adjectives. I would much rather accept the woman I am, love myself, and live a life full of all of the things I want to accomplish and do. It is not an overnight transformation. Honestly, I still have a long way to go before I am no longer that scared little girl. Will I ever be skinny? Probably not. Is that something that I still strive to be? Not even close. My goal is to be the best version of myself I can be. In doing so, I want to take care of my body, not starve it. I want to train my body, not sculpt it. I want to measure myself in the amount of smiles I have, the amount of memories I create, and the amount of good I can put back into the world.

I hope that this post inspires you to be the best version of you that you can be. Strive to be you, you are the only one that can pull it off. If this is a topic that you struggle with or that you would like to talk to me about, leave a comment down below or request my email address for a more private conversation. (I am working on getting in the buttons for social media and contacts.) Until next time my lovelies.

For more of my body image related posts:
The Never Ending Struggle
I Am Fat
For Every Moment Of Self Doubt
Showing Scars
Letting Go

1 comment

  1. What a great post. We are our own worst critic and body image is indeed subjective. When we change the way we think, we change our lives. Thanks for sharing, Jessica!