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Thinking about Body Image

After a lifetime of dieting I’ve spent the last several years coming to grips with the fact that as I approach 50 I’m not only watching my metabolism slow down but I’m watching my likelihood of health issues speed up.

I’m not one of those people who are five pounds overweight and bemoans the fact that I can’t get into my size 2 evening wear. Reality check, I am significantly overweight and haven’t worn a size 2 since I *was* two. I just wanted to make that clear before I start talking about  topic that makes people uncomfortable.

I have spent the majority of my life trying to look like I am supposed to look based on magazines, people’s opinions, the doctor’s charts, pop culture…you name it, I internalized the message that I was fat. Looking back on pictures now I cannot believe that I thought I was overweight at any of those points in my life. I look at pictures and wish I looked like that now. Because as I got older I gained and lost and gained and lost and every time I went through that cycle I gained back a little more.

After 40+ years of being aware of what I looked like and how much I weighed I feel like I have a perspective that might not be typical. I both like and dislike my body but for entirely different reasons.

I like my body because the men I date find me attractive and create me like I am precious. As a woman, I like that feeling. I like my body because after years of being sure I would be sexier if I were different the last three men I was involved with have convinced me they would find me attractive regardless of my size and it helped me see that thinking someone is sexy is a conscious choice, so loving myself for who I am in this moment is a conscious choice too. I choose to love myself. My friend Marita, the person I do moon meditations and chakra clearings with, calls it radical self love when you figure out who you are and how you represent yourself in the world and take up the space you are meant to. I don’t disagree with them.

I dislike my body because as a person who enjoys adventure there are things I cannot do at the size I currently am. As an adventurer, I do not like that feeling. I do not like telling myself I can’t climb, run, explore, and experience things because I don’t fit in a space, can’t get to an archeological site, can’t learn to paddle board or kayak, and can’t fly wherever I want to because I no longer fit into every seat on every size plane. Before you tell me to ‘just’ lose weight please understand if it were possible to ‘just’ do anything I would have done it years ago. Instead I internalized every jibe and snide comment and well meaning suggestion like a barb in my heart. Every thing hurt because I thought I was a waste of space and unlovable because I wasn’t smaller and because I thought that until I was smaller I was imperfect and unworthy. Luckily, it has only taken me 40+ years to get to the point where I recognize nobody is perfect and everyone is worthy.

So what do I do now? Well, I’ve been thinking about it, as you can imagine, and I think the most important thing is to figure out what purpose my weight serves. If I can figure out why I can’t ‘just’ lose weight and understand how my mind thinks I benefit from the body I have I should be able to mitigate some of the things that I’ve done over the years that caused me to gain weight.

First thing though is to find some things to read so I can start thinking my way through this. I really like this article as a place to start. If you have any other suggestions feel free to share them with me.

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