For a long time, I have an internal struggle with my image. Body image is defined as one’s thoughts, perceptions, and attitudes about his physical appearance. How do you look and feel about your body when you look in the mirror? How tall you are, how thin, what color is hair, skin, eyes, in short, everything we can see in a mirror.
There are two ways to view body image positively and negatively. Positive body image is a clear and accurate perception of what your body is like; That time in that mirror and seeing the various parts of your body as they are — no taboos and acceptance.
The National Association of Eating Disorders tells us that A negative body image, on the other hand, implies a distorted perception of one’s shape. Negative body image (or body dissatisfaction) are feelings of shame, anxiety, and self-awareness. People who experience high levels of body dissatisfaction feel that their bodies have failures compared to others, and these people are more likely to suffer from depression, isolation, low self-esteem, and eating disorders.
This behavior towards our body can begin in girls from 6 years old, while for boys, it could start in their adolescence. As the years go by and this disorder is not taken care of, it could become worse.
As a child, I was an obese girl, and the nicknames were not lacking; the one I remember most is savoy ball. I don’t even remember what the word savoy ball means. I just knew that it was my name in the schoolyard. That never stopped me, and I think I’ve always been a resilient person without knowing what that word meant at that time. I had my classmates, we played everything, and we behaved like kids were supposed to behave at school. I was always invited to the activities and my day to day was quite normal, I think that’s why it didn’t affect me so much in those moments. While my classmates were telling me names, they didn’t exclude me from the group and the fact that I ran faster than they used to intimidate them a bit.
The thing got interesting during my adolescence, where body changes began to emerge, as well as moods. At that moment, I discovered that you would be as popular as the curves in your body are. I began to get the attention of the young people who lived near the house, the boys started to visit my home, and we spend late hours relaxing, sitting all in front of my house. However, this change in my body began to attract the attention of men who sometimes could triple my age. The controls of my going outs of home to walk around the neighborhood became more rigorous, and my participation in several sports was also affected. Playing basketball with the opposite sex was no longer so exciting, and having to be watching over my shoulder everywhere 24 hours a day was honestly an exhaustive mission.
Do not misunderstand me; I am not saying that I was the last drop of water in the desert. The same happened with other neighbors who were my age, and their going out and walks around the neighborhood were also affected.
Thanks to the fact that being fashionable did not go with me, if you paid attention sports were my thing, and I was in basketball and volleyball, I was able to control the looks on the street to some extent. These turned out to be a sharp blow to my body image, I had always wanted to be like my friends, to be at the right weight to avoid nicknames, but I did not expect puberty to bring other complications.
The most substantial blow to my body image was my experience in middle school, these was also a new school for me. Kids there where very fashionable something I was not. I have never worn a lot of makeup, and this has brought a lot of criticizing over time. Who would say that a little powder and lipstick would make me go through so many experiences? When I was 15, I fully developed into a 36B cup and size three pants. During my years at school, I belonged to both sides of the spectrum; the group of popular students and the group of geeks students.
When I was in the ninth grade, it was rumored that I was a lesbian. I was in a Catholic school and that this would mean that some adult would have to have an intervention with me. The intervention was done usually by the teachers they needed to get to the bottom of the matter. My classmates’ argument was that I was a lesbian because I didn’t wear makeup, and I liked sports. That was a shock at school, and they decided to face it extremely professionally (insert sarcasm here). One day I came to English or religion class, I don’t remember which one, and they stopped me in front of the course where they started talking about how a person who skinned a chicken could never put his feathers back on.
With the imagination I have, I imagined someone chasing me going around, plucking me, and then coming again with adhesive tape to paste my feathers back.
What a body image you create after that little intervention in front of the classroom. Go self-assessment and way to confuse the mind of a developing teenager!
Years passed, compliments, boyfriends, and various health situations, and I arrived at the university. A few beautiful years with their challenges, but beautiful. I had already been to surgery because of my endometriosis condition. When I was diagnosed with endometriosis, not a lot was known about the disease — many medications were given to me with all kinds of secondary symptoms. I started to see weight gain and I stopped eating. This behavior didn’t go unnoticed and many changes where made by the people who loved me.
At home, food was served at the table every day; my boyfriend made sure that I ate lunch, and this went on for a few months. I began to see how I gained weight, and because of my condition, I was prescribed birth control pills. The weight accumulated in a blink of an eye; being comfortable in my skin was painful. Looking at myself in a mirror was almost impossible from my 30 to 34 years. The weight gain had been substantial, but there was no reason for that increase, all my blood, sugar, thyroid, and other tests are excellent. I exercised regularly and I had stamina.
Getting ahead of this disorder that consumed me day by day was not easy; there are still days that I must attend to my thoughts and work a little with myself. The practice of “mindfulness” has taught me to open my mind to negative and positive feelings about my image. I learned to stand in the mirror and accept what I was seeing. Being there in the present, alone, my reflection and I gradually started accepting myself as I see myself and changing my thoughts from negative to positive. Although I still don’t know what made me gain so much weight , I maintain a healthy diet, I do an hour of intense exercises three times a week and try to be as active as possible in my work area. My image still bothers me from time to time, but I am learning to love myself little by little every day. No matter how cruel a person can be.
Mindfulness is to be present at the moment not to flee from what I feel, but rather to observe them and begin to accept that I can change my way of thinking. Learning to recognize these thoughts and feelings that I had towards me, I could start to see my inner self, create new strategies on how to work with the matter, and create new habits that help me to continue growing and loving myself day by day.
My husband’s support for my body image has been extraordinary, which has helped me not to think so much about my weight, height, etc. I started visiting a nutritionist to see if an adjustment to my diet was necessary, and I have been thinking positively for several years now.
Not everyone can face this disorder as I have done, and many people do it; some need help from professionals, and it is something that should not wait, stigma cannot beat us.
Visit a professional who can help you, it is never too late to start taking care of us.