The Lifelong Battle with Body Image

From left to right: Year 1999; Year 2003 – (N/A)*;Year 2009; Year 2011
* = The year 2003 will be available once I find a photo from high school

On a daily basis, we are surrounded by the extreme visuals of which type of body image is socially acceptable in our society, reminding us everyday the way society wants us to look. Splashed across the pages of Vogue, Teen People & InStyle are photographs of glamorous people, all wearing designer fashions and all of them the size of my leg. I am not sure why society places such a high priority on individuals to look the a certain way but I do know one thing: Maybe if society stops worrying about who looks like what, maybe I wouldn’t have a self-conscious view of my own body image.

One of the first memories that I have from grade school was being on the playground. I loved to run around, play on the monkey bars and sit on the curb. All of this was done by myself, though, on a daily basis. One day, I remember walking towards the playground, by myself, looking for a friend. I walked up to a little girl, who was in the same 1st grade class that I was in and asked her to play. She stopped, looked at me, and said in a very hurtful tone “No!”. I asked her why she didn’t want to play and she said rather quickly “because you are ugly!”. She then proceeded to continue to play with her friends, as I walked away crying. I spent the rest of recess on the curb, by myself, crying. I know I wasn’t the cutest kid to walk into the school. I did have blonde hair & blue eyes but that was all that was going for me. I had hair cut up to my ears, a huge gap in between my teeth, and I had a skinny body with a huge head. I didn’t understand why she was so hurtful. All I wanted to do was be her friend. I wish I could say this was the first & last issue with body image that i had, but if I said that…I would be lying.

Years past & in 7th grade, I moved from a private all girls school to public school. The transition was tough. I cried on a daily basis at the all girls school the year before & I was hoping that public school would be better…for friends and for my self-esteem. Boy was I wrong. The first nickname I inherited from the kids at school was “dog”. They would bark at me in the halls, call me a dog to my face and call me dog names, like Fido. I tried my hardest to ignore their childish names but when a girl called me ugly to my face during lunch…I snapped. I proceeded to smack her across the face, which landed us both in lunch detention. The teasing & name calling continued up until the end of 8th grade, when I finally graduated from middle school. I was finally out of middle school & headed into high school. My thoughts were that maybe people in high school were nicer & didn’t use childish names. Well..I was right about one thing. They definitely did not use childish names.

Entering into high school was supposed to be fun, but I was met with ridicule & questions straight off the bat. “Why don’t you wear make up? Why aren’t you wearing the new Adidas? Why do you wear your hair like that?” I ignored the questions and because I ignored those questions. the questions soon turned into name calling. I was called a “slut” & a “whore”on a daily basis, which made my self-esteem plummet. I soon went to school wearing sweats & t-shirts with my hair up in a bun, no make up covering the many zits I had… not caring about anything. Soon the words “slut” and “whore” were replaced by “ugly” and “pizza face”. I was even hated & called names by my boyfriends friends. One friend almost gave my boyfriend, at the time, a mask to place over my head while we made out during a school function. I am surprised still, to this day, that I even pulled a boyfriend in high school. Senior year came & went & my self-esteem was shot. After a while, I picked myself back up, but soon I found myself in a situation that proved to all together kill my self-esteem, self-worth & body image.

Finding someone to love you for who you are is the best feeling in the world, but when you find someone who “says” they love you for who you are, can leave you wondering about yourself and your body image. Through my struggle with alcoholism, I met a very attractive born again Christian who seemed to be my saving grace. I finally felt comfortable in my skin & body, but this feeling didn’t last long. After a couple of months, he started to tell me I shouldn’t wear certain things, like my favorite hot pink belt I still wear to this day, & that I need to go to the gym more often. I didn’t understand why but I started to do the things he wanted…thinking he was telling me these things to help me. Months past & I soon was obsessed with the gym. I would go 2 hours a day, and continue to work out when I got home. I stopped eating fried foods, fatty foods, red meat & carbs. I also cut my portions in half & even skipped meals. I started to dress differently and died my hair to make my blonde hair look brown. At my lowest, I was eating only one meal a day & was puking up the food I was eating. It didn’t matter though. It never mattered. In the end, after almost 2 years of break ups, break downs, weight lost & make ups, we parted ways & never spoke again. I was left with someone I didn’t recognize in the mirror & someone I didn’t want to know.

Today, 21 years after my 1st negative experience with self esteem & 7 years after being that person I didn’t know, I finally know myself, blonde hair & all, but I still battle with body image & self confidence on a daily basis. I still look at some food with disgust, sometimes I catch myself skipping a meal, and at times, I think I look fat, even though I am a size 4. After 21 years of battling individuals & society over my own body image, I am still fighting. I may lose a battle here or there though, but I plan on winning the war. For myself & for others


Comments

The Long Battle with Body Image — 2 Comments

  1. We are so blessed to have someone like you in this world. I remember the earlier years of you and I knew you would always be strong. I always thought you were brave for not wearing makeup and thought how I just blended in like everyone else because I didn’t want to be different. I am happy to say I will always remeber that funny girl with the bun, blue eyes, and comfortable clothes that had endured. It is truely amazing how honest you have been for this blog. Society’s idea of a perfect woman is, to me, a very long fad. Society can never make up it’s mind on what is a fad, trend, or even what is taboo. By the way, thanks for this blog. I think you have connected with every woman that read this. At some point we have all felt this way but didn’t have the courage to express it. PS You are beautiful!!!

  2. I’m sorry you had to go through such a horrible experience of being called ugly as a child. I think for women, we will also battle our own self image because we have been socialized over and over again to believe that our appearance is not good enough. Unfortunately some of us have been told that literally it isn’t good enough. I have had my own weight struggles due to medication side effects and basically just giving up. No matter what size a woman is though many of us don’t feel OK in our own skin. What gets me is that when we express it, many people say things like “oh you aren’t that bad” or “why are you so worried about that?” A lot of times those people are men, but aside from that, it’s just as crazy to negate a woman when she is expressing how she feels – even if how she feels isn’t an accurate description of herself. The point is, it’s not our faults that we have the internal dialogue. It sucks but we are the ones left to deal with it. I hope that for future females they have less of this to encounter. I wrote a blog post once about how I’d rather be fat because I get sick of being treated better (by everyone not just strangers) when I’m thinner. 🙂 Let me know if you want a link to that.

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