I have had body image issues all my life. It of course started with my mother. If you ever met my mother you would wonder how the two of us are related. (FYI, my mother passed away 18 years ago, so your chances of meeting her, at least in this life, not so good.) My mother was 5’8, 130 pounds, dark brown hair, no boobs, (she was an A cup) and big hips. Me 5’3, more pounds than I care to have at the moment, blonde hair, big boobs (let’s just say I am a healthy D and it is natural), and no hips at all. In fact I have to buy my jeans in the junior section because all the jeans in the women’s department are too big in the hips. I carry all my weight in the middle, my mother carried hers, or rather what little she had, in the hips and legs.
For as long as I can recall my mother was obsessed about her weight, to the point she really wanted liposuction. As you can see from reading my description of her, she was not heavy in any way shape or form, unless you go by Hollywood standards, which I firmly believe encourage more body image issues and unhealthy behavior by young girls than just about anything else in our society. Since she was obsessed with her weight, naturally she was obsessed with mine.
As a child I was not skinny, but I was not “fat” either. I was on the chunky side, but in comparison to what you see in kids today, I was fine. However if you had asked me as a child about my weight, I would have told you I was FAT, because that is what my mother told me on more than one occasion. She always wanted me to lose weight. She didn’t understand that I was built differently from her and that I would never be a size 4, 6 or 8. She did not accept me for who I was. She always wanted to change me, into what she thought I should be.
As a result all my life I have felt FAT, regardless of what I weigh. Admittedly my weight has gone up and down over the years, in fact after she died, I lost a TON of weight, probably subconsciously as revenge against her. To this day I still keep a pair of jeans from that time because they remind me how skinny I was. But again if you had asked me at that time, I would have told you I was FAT.
Today I will still tell you I am FAT. Reality, yes I honestly do need to lose a few pounds. I have 25-30 pounds of emotionally eating from the last 4-5 years that I need to lose. The good news, as soon as we made the decision to separate, the brain chip in my head that causes me to emotionally eat, just “turned off.” It was literally like someone flipped a switch and turned it off. I have gotten back on my treadmill, although not a frequently as I should, but overall I am battling my weight issues, better than I have in a long time.
When I think about my body image issues, and the tape that repeats over and over again in my head telling me I am FAT, I wonder if it is akin to the tape that runs in my husband’s head about being homosexual? My mother never accepted that my body was different from hers, and my husband feels that people, specifically those in the Church, as well as family members, don’t accept that he is different from them. He also struggles with issues related to his biological father, who never accepted my husband for who he was. He never measured up to the standards of manliness his father pre-determined were acceptable. Is his longing for these close male friendships a reflection of the rejection he suffered by this father as a child? Are we batting the same demon in a different form?