Friday, January 6, 2012

Me and my body

The first time I dieted I was 15. It was the end of the summer, and I was heading out into the backyard to have morning coffee with my mother. It was something we did. I had noticed that morning as I got out of bed that when I sat down there was a wrinkle on my belly that didn't go away when I stood up. Really, we are talking a wrinkle, not a roll.

I immediately went to weigh myself. I was 130 pounds. I was five foot five (and 1/2) inches tall. I was upset. I confided all this to my mother. Her solution - to put me on a diet. She joined me. It was a bonding moment I suppose. I remember the card she gave me for my birthday that following October. It referenced being 'our age, and going on a diet'. It was funny. I weighed 117 pounds. I was thin. That was the beginning.

I dieted off and on and off and on until my 40s. And then I decided to stop weighing myself. So I can't tell you what I weigh. I can tell you it is more that 130 pounds. And yet, I am more comfortable in my body now then when I was younger.

And yet, it is New Year's and it seems all the newspaper articles, and radio shows, and tv commercials are about weight loss. The most upsetting one is the one that shows a number of pairs of feet, obviously women's feet, standing nervously, hesitating before a bathroom scale. It is clear, even from their feet, that they are beautiful women and I feel bad for them. Because I have been those feet.

I have starved myself, berated myself, hated myself for not being thin and cellulite free. I still have moments where I think - what do I look like from behind? Does this outfit make me look fatter? What do my friends think when they see me in a bathing suit?

I am getting better about this. Last February I had a break through in a hot tub situation that I blogged about. I started to wear more fitted clothes and stopped being apologetic about my weight.

And yet, and still, there is a picture of me on top of the Stawamus chief. When I saw that picture for the first time I didn't think - wow, that woman just climbed the Chief. I saw and was embarrased by the roll of flesh at my waist. Really? Have I learned nothing in my 56 years?

There are parts of my body I love dearly. My toes, my shoulders, my back, my face. There are parts of my body that disappoint me - my legs, my tummy, my bum, my neck.

And it hurts me to see my beautiful daughter, sisters, friends fretting about the same things. They are all beautiful to me. Not just 'beautiful on the inside, beautiful' but beautiful.

And, I hate it when people say - you look great. Have you lost weight? Because what I hear is - man, you were not looking great before.

The same thing happened when I cut my hair - but that is another, and yet perhaps, the same story.

So I am taking my daughter's challenge. I will reflect on how I speak about myself and to others on issues around weight and society. I think it is important that we speak out loud and with truth. Maybe then we can ignore the Jennifer Hudson Weight Watcher commercial, or the Mariah Carey Jenny Craig commerical. Maybe then we won't have to tolerate watching beautiful women cringing at the thought of getting on a scale. Maybe, just maybe our scales will be only for weighing our luggage so we don't get over-charged at the airport and for nothing else.

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