I became aware of my body image at the age of 12. As a kid, I was always short, skinny, and a shameless picky eater. Then puberty hit like an unwelcome, sneaky guest who (in my teenaged mind) overstayed its welcome. And by the embarrassing age of 12, I was a mini woman with wide hips and a booty that would have made even JLo blush (or, again, so thought my teenaged mind). Unlike my peers whose bodies stretched out into willowy or athletic figures, I gained inch by inch of so-called baby fat.
It was then that I peered at my own reflection, deemed myself fat, and began my decade-long weight-loss struggle.
Throughout the years my body endured one crazy cycle of yo-yo dieting. For a while (let’s say, a few months at a time), I would have slimmer thighs, smaller hips, and cheeks that didn’t balloon up like a chipmunk’s with a simple smile. But most of the time I was just a short chubby girl who couldn’t resist late-night snacking.
As an adult woman, I have (somewhat) overcome that battle. It was not until last summer that I finally established a normal exercise routine and (somewhat) healthy eating habits, which I still maintain to this day. Since then I have dropped the weight I gained during and after my trip to Europe, toned my limbs, and increased my energy level. But I would be lying if I were to say that I am truly at peace with my body. There is a reason my copy of Seventeen magazine’s body peace treaty is still unsigned.
To be honest, I don’t know if I will ever be at “peace” with the body I have been blessed with. As long as I am a woman living in this media-inundated Western society, I will always be exposed to messages crowning thinness over thickness. And, trust me, you can’t exactly turn your mind off to these messages. Not easily anyway. But I do know this: I am happier with my body now than I have been for a very long time. I don’t attribute my happiness solely to my improved exercise/eating regimen (though that plays a huge part), but to my acceptance (and embracing) of certain facts about my body:
I will always be short:I sometimes wished that I was taller so my weight would “better” distribute throughout my stature, hence, making me look thinner. But then I figured that if I were taller, I would still probably be dealing with body image issues. So, instead, I take pride in saying that I am the shortest in my family. Don’t underestimate me– I can still kick ass.
I will always be curvy.Like, bubble booty, top heavy, thick thighs curvy. And I freakin’ love it. A few months ago I slipped on a dress for work, one that always flattered me no matter the number I tipped at on the scale. Except this time. It clung loose to me like an unattractive house dress. I frowned at my reflection, not at all liking the thought that I may be losing my curves. I do agree that that in itself is another body image predicament, but it was then that I realized that I would never want to be ultra-thin. That may work for some women (and, assuming that it is not a shape achieved through extreme measures, that’s PERFECTLY OKAY), but not for me.
My body deserves to be treated with respect.And that means consuming nutritious meals but not feeling guilty for sweet bites. Because, seriously, I love baking too much to swear off it. That also means occasionally working up a sweat, sleeping the right amount of hours, and just straight up loving it. That last part, though, is what I still play tug of war with.
So, if I accept these facts, then why the lack of complete body peace? The answer is easy: I sometimes think I will be “better” if I had the figure of a (short) Victoria’s Secret model. Ya know, with all the curves but defined abs/legs/arms/eyebrows.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get over it. But I do know that I am a short, curvy, awesome woman. And my strong body can kick serious ass.