How I learned to love my body again
This past week was the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. I’ve never really paid attention to it, but I also never had a real reason for that. Secretly, I think my younger self knew that watching it would only serve to make me hate my body. This year especially, with the CEO making transphobic comments, I definitely wasn’t making plans to watch the show.
I did a quick round up on my stories of lingerie companies I support that are inclusive and body positive, but as I started writing a caption for an in-feed post about my own journey of learning to love the body I inhabit, I found myself needing more space. So here we are!
HATING MY BODY
I’ve never been particularly comfortable in my body. I was a pretty chubby kid when I was in elementary school. The other girls were thinner than me, while I was hitting 100 pounds in just 4th grade. I compared myself to them constantly. I got Lyme disease going into 7th grade and lost a crazy amount of weight, as the meds I was taking made me lose my appetite almost entirely.
Even so, I still thought I was huge. I could see my body physically changing, but to me, I still had a ways to go. I remember my younger sister telling me she was jealous of my flat stomach, saying I didn’t even have one. When I looked down at my stomach, though, I felt utterly confused. I hadn’t even noticed my stomach had nearly disappeared and completely flattened out. I still felt huge. Oftentimes, I’d pinch my stomach fat as a way to gauge how much weight I still “needed” to lose. My goal was to not be able to pinch anything.
I was never diagnosed, but looking back, I’m pretty sure I had body dysmorphia. I was even following a couple ED (eating disorder) blogs on Tumblr, even though I was cognizant that the weight loss practices the owners of these blogs talked about were anything but healthy. I remember seeing “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” on these blogs a lot. It wasn’t until I suddenly didn’t need the training bras I had already been wearing for over a year that I realized I had lost a crazy amount of weight.
My appetite came back after the Lyme disease receded and I went off my meds. I started gaining some of my weight back, but I also started counting my calories and working out obsessively. I loved how thin I had become and didn’t want to go back to my previously bigger self. I learned more about working out and one summer, did Blogilates videos obsessively. High school started and I was in the best shape of my life, but I was snappy all the time and never happy. I only drank water and tea and avoided anything with sugar.
Then I had my first boyfriend, who molested and sexually assaulted me, further damaging the already fucked up relationship I had with my body. He was the first of a few different boys I would let into my life that claimed my body before I ever even learned that it was mine. I lost a sense of ownership over my body that I have yet to fully recover.
HEALING MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY BODY
I can’t really pinpoint when I started to love my body again, or even how it happened, but I have. I’ve decided to love my body where it is, rather than deciding I’ll love it once I weigh a certain amount or look a certain way.
I do credit Cassey Ho of Blogilates with some of my healing, though. When I was doing her workouts, the way she talked about viewing your body and fitness as a journey to becoming stronger and not about becoming thinner definitely helped shape the way I view myself now. I don’t workout as much anymore, but I still follow her obsessively and look up to her a lot. (I actually just got a Top Fan badge for Blogilates on Facebook this morning, if that says anything…)
I’ve stopped viewing working out as a way to lose weight and improve my appearance and started to instead view it as a way to feel good. Now when I workout, it’s more about enjoying getting some movement in and relieving stress and anxiety. It helps me focus better. I’ve also stopped shaming myself for not working out all the time and given up on a restrictive diet. I eat what makes my body feel good. Sometimes that’s crappy junk food, but oftentimes, it’s a decently wholesome meal.
I also started going to counseling in college to talk through some of the trauma I carry with me because of the sexual abuse I’ve dealt with. There’s (obviously) a lot to get into with that, but one of my struggles is sometimes feeling like nothing more than a body. It’s a work in progress, but I’m slowly gaining back a sense of ownership over my body and my pleasure.
Learning to love myself and the body I’m in is a journey. I don’t believe it ever ends, either. My body will change with me as a I age, or maybe even have a kid someday. As such, I’ll continue working to love myself and my beautiful, changing body each and every day.
That’s all for this week, friends. Thanks for reading! Drop me a comment and tell me how you’re learning to love your body today and every day.
P.S. Thanks to True and Co for gifting me the lingerie set I’m wearing in these photos! This blog post isn’t sponsored by them, but I did agree to do a quick Instagram post for them which you can see linked here.