I recently had a chat with an old friend about how we feel about our weight, and finally gave a verbal recognition to the internal struggle that I feel every day: I try to be a body positive feminist but I feel fat and struggle with my own body image.
I would never judge anyone else on their weight, body size or shape, and love it when people have confidence in their body, but when it comes to my own body, it’s a whole other story.
I don’t think I’ve been happy with how I looked since I hit puberty at around 10/11. When I look at my Year 6 primary school photos, all I see is a blubbery mini whale in a polo shirt, which is why that photo is usually buried beneath my underwear… I look at photos of me before I reached 10 years old, and I look skinny and long-limbed and feel pretty envious of my tiny body. Which is pretty weird – why am I jealous of my 7 year old self?
When I was young and obliviously thinner.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some things about my body now that I’m happy with, and am often confident about – my boobs, for example, I’m very happy with and like to show them off (they like a bit of fresh air), and I quite like my hips. I think this is why some people have a misconception about me that I’m confident in my body – because I’m happy wearing more “revealing” clothes sometimes. But I do this to desperately draw attention away from the bits I don’t like about my appearance.
What I have a fiery hatred for, which I try to hide from most people, are my arms, massive thighs and bum, my tummy, and my double chin. And also my face. Recently I decided, during a wave of self-pity, that I was never going to be pretty. Not in a conventional way. So that the only option open to me was to embrace the weirdness of my face and body and just *be* weird. I mentioned this to someone, and they murmured an agreement and I felt my heart break. It’s never nice to have someone confirm that you are odd looking, even if you think it yourself.
Two years ago, before my depression, overweight and with a fuller face…
But despite this new, pretty crap approach to trying to accept my face, it’s still kinda failing (I mean obviously self-pitying ideas are never going to be great). I’ve been making a conscious effort to post more selfies on my Instagram account recently (the feature image of this post is one such selfie, taken a week ago), as part of my “Embrace Ya Face” thing… But I end up deleting most of them straight after posting, because I can’t stand the idea of people looking too closely at how I look (defeating the whole point of taking the selfies).
The thing I struggle with the most though is my weight. Like I said, since puberty struck me like a bus driving into your front room, I’ve been on the “chubz” side – teetering on the edge of the overweight BMI section. However, I finally started to lose weight a couple of years ago because of my depression. I basically just stopped eating, apart from when I was forced to by my boyfriend or when mum asked me to send her photos of my dinners.
I lost quite a lot of weight, and when I came home and started seeing people again, I was showered in compliments. “You look great! You’ve lost so much weight!”. “Have you been on a diet? You’re looking very well!” Amazing how I was going through the worst period of my life and literally starving myself, and people completely ignored the self-harm cuts on my wrist and saw a skinnier Sarah and thought I was happy and looking well. Well, even with my warped self-hating brain I can see that massive flaw in society.
On a rare outing when I was depressed and skinnier…
News flash: BEING SKINNY DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE HAPPY OR MAKE YOU HAPPY. I know this, but you know what the fucked-up thing is? It’s about a year later and I’ve poured on the weight (anti-depressants or the fact that I have now turned to comfort eating, no one knows) and part of me actually misses being depressed and skinny! Yeah, I know that is bad.
I’ve joined a gym, on the pretense that I want to be healthy. Eh, I mean it would be nice to know I can actually run from a rapist and not waddle away sadly, but I know if I was being truly honest, I joined because my heart yearns for skinniness.
But I want to be body-positive! Like, that’s the right way to be – loving every jiggle and curve and hugging each other happily like in those Dove commercials where all the women look beautiful and they know it, despite all being so different… Right? My brain just centers on the bad parts of my own body though, and I don’t know how to counter that.
Fighting with your own brain is hard but not impossible. I am trying to tell myself that if I am beating depression, then I should be able to beat these mean thoughts about how I look. It’s like being locked in a desperate internal struggle but I’ll be honest, I’ve never been good at fights so it’s basically just two Sarahs writhing and crying on the floor of my brain.
I wish at this point I could say that I’ve found the cure to self-loathing, but I haven’t. As soon as I do, I’ll let you guys know.
Two months ago – I’ve put on weight since getting better with my mental health…