All my life, I have felt ashamed of my body. When I was a teenager and a young adult, I wore long shirts, loose sweaters, and long pants in an attempt to hide my big hips and heavy legs. I ducked invitations to cottages, dreaded pool parties, and generally avoided activities that required me to wear tight clothes or bathing suits. I have lived in fear of people seeing me; afraid of their judgement; certain of their ridicule.
So, last night, I was little shocked when I found some photos of me from my early 20s and 30s. There I was, this young, beautiful woman, with slim arms, strong legs, and a heart-shaped face. The young woman in those photos was not fat at all; in fact, she looked a little wane in a few. I looked at these photos with a mix of strong emotions; the strongest being grief for all of the years wasted with needless shame and fear. I found myself thinking I would give my eye teeth to look like that today. I felt like reaching into those photos and shaking that young woman. How did she come to feel so badly about herself? Where did she get the idea that she was fat? Why was she so ashamed of herself?
Since then, I have gained a lot of weight. Today, I have the body that that young woman felt she had; demonstrating perhaps that we do indeed create our reality with out beliefs. The funny thing is that while that young woman looked in the mirror and saw a fat woman, I now experience the opposite. I described myself once to a friend as an Anorexic in Reverse. When I look in the mirror most mornings, I don’t see a fat woman even though that is what I have become. Every so often I see it – when I try on clothes that don’t fit – when I pull my bathing suit out each summer – and then I am shocked by what I see.
But most of the time, I feel like a lively and energetic woman who is actively engaged in the world, passionate about her work, and deeply connected to her husband and kids. I can’t decide if this is good or bad. Does it say that I feel good about myself; better than I have at any other time in my life? Or does it suggest that I am living in denial; totally dissociated from my body? I don’t know….but I am trying something new. Instead of counting calories every day, I am going to try hugging that beautiful young woman, in my mind’s eye, every night.