Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Body Image on Bad Days
Bad hair day, feeling blah, makeup not quite right…you don’t always take pictures on those days, but whether there is a picture or not your body image stays with you – it is part of your mental and body connection everyday.
My body image has changed significantly since my WLS but that new image hasn’t always been the most positive. When I really think about it my body image since the time I was a pre-teen well my body image hasn’t been great. It has been pretty crappy in all honesty. Phrases like “you would be so pretty if you just lost some weight” or “you would get a bf if you were skinnier” or even “why don’t you try a diet or working out and don’t be so lazy!” These aren’t things that would pump you up now would it? I would like to say that strangers stated these things, but I’ve heard them from relatives, friends, even my parents. I don’t think they meant things on purpose, but it still is hurtful and it has remained with me especially on those BAD days.
I wish things had been different and then maybe I wouldn’t be here in this moment today, but I am here and the path that brought me here has shaped me.
My body image has taken a big hit as a younger girl going through middle and high school. College wasn’t a place of pure safety for body image either, but from the complete deflation of my body image until today there have been many good changes. You can see those changes in the pictures I posted yesterday, but what happens when I’m not smiling and taking pics?
I have body image issues, but I don’t know many women that don’t on some level have an issue with a part of their body. I’m morphing and continuing to morph so my body image issues morph with me. I would be lying if I didn’t tell you there are days I get out of the shower and look at this naked body and want to cry because of the shape of my body; go back 10 years and I felt the same way except my body was 200 + lbs heavier. There are days when I don’t think my husband could ever find this deflated, sagging, icky post WLS skin attractive; take me back 4 years ago and I never thought Justin would take a second look at me.
So I thought why not take an inventory of what my issues with my body image actually are today. Now I’m not doing this to be super critical, but to be real. In the moment of being 22 months post op, what are my body image issues.
1. The shape of my stomach area and the way the skin hangs
2. The way my legs particularly the top of my thighs hang like “elephant ears”
3. The size of my clothes – I love my new smaller clothes, but the size bugs me
4. My weight – the number in particular. I don’t feel 190 lbs, but here I am
5. Not feeling like I am an “ideal” size
6. Not being able to “fit” into clothes I want, though I’ve come so far…I still feel inadequate to not be in the clothes I want
I don’t think these are issues that are unbearable, but they are real. They are right now. Some are logical and most aren’t. I realize it, but I still FEEL that way. It is things that I’m working through. I learned this past weekend that I am not alone in feeling this way about my own body.
One of the greatest things I experienced was sitting in a plastics conference talk and seeing hundreds of photos of naked bodies that look like me! I know it might not seem logical, but for the first time in this journey I saw other bodies that resembled my own. I was able to see how people at my point in this journey look pre and post plastics. I was at ease to see my stomach hang like others. I was at ease to see my arm flaps hang like others. It made me feel much better about my thighs because others share my sagging elephant as well! It was honoring to be able to share in that moment with 60 + others that moment of ah ha! I can continue the journey to be a better me, but to be able to cut on myself I have to be ok with me. I finally didn’t feel alone. I felt part of a community. I felt like in that moment those pictures were yelling to me “IT IS OK…BE RELIEVED!” I could hear my surgeon tell me that all of that lose skin was good work and the result we needed for right now.
So what do I do to fix my body image? I get up every day. I have bad days. I have good days. I have great days too! I need to keep going. I need to keep working towards accepting myself here and now…for what my body is and try to accept it as best as I can. I’m not perfect but I am trying.