A few weeks ago, I looked back through an old journal from November 2007. I was looking for something particular – a doctor’s name – and didn’t find what I was searching for. Instead, I found many pages and passages of self-insults. I called myself fat, said my head looked like a potato, complained about so many parts of my body as well as my personal failings that obviously led to the problems with my body. It was a shocking thing to find. Yes, I knew that I didn’t like being overweight and that I struggled hard with body image, but I hadn’t realized just how vitriolic my self-language was at that time.
Near the end of 2007, I was frustrated with myself. Being overweight was a relatively new experience for me, starting only when I was pregnant with my third child in 2003/2004. My weight was still bouncing around due to illness, with sudden gains and drops, and I was frustrated with the lack of control. At the time of my journal entries, I was 20 lbs up from where I’d been six months before, and was straddling the overweight/obese line. I have almost no pictures from then, because I was too embarrassed by how I looked to take them, and in those I have, I now look back and see someone who may not be super thin, but who looked just fine! Yet I was calling myself names and berating myself constantly.
I’m honestly not sure exact when or how things changed in the last ten years. I currently weigh about 35 lbs more than I do in that picture above. I’ve spent most of the last ten years either overweight or obese. But I don’t sit around berating myself anymore. Actually, I don’t mind how I look. Sure, I could do with some improvement, especially as getting thinner would help my feet and hips not to hurt all the time. But see? That’s not a self-insult. That’s practicality. Now, when I look in the mirror, I’m perfectly okay with what I see. Maybe it’s just the familiarity of having been this size so long. Maybe it’s the surgery I had a few years ago to repair pregnancy damage to my stomach. Maybe it’s all the work I did on improving my body image when I was thin. I don’t know. All I know is that I’m no longer inclined to treat myself like a punching bag. Do I like every picture? No! Who does? Do I have days when I struggle and take issue with my body? Of course! The negative crap and the insults and the shame, though? That’s all gone. Good riddance.