What places on your body do you hope to see differently?
My legs, hips, and butt.
How do you feel about them currently?
I have always had issues with my legs. Thighs too big, not toned enough. Thick ankles. When I used to dance every day, I still scrutinized my leg shape, but I recognized them as strong and powerful. Now I see them as my weakest spot...the part of me where I can most easily recognize my weight fluxuations. A reminder that I haven’t been eating very well or exercising. Proof that I haven’t been taking care of my body. When I was struggling with orthorexia and weighed 20 lbs less than I do now, I still hated my legs and thought they were too big. I carry most of my weight below my waist. I’ve never hated my butt the way I’ve hated my legs. I’ve always recognized that she could be more toned and is a little long and sad and cellulite-y, but for whatever reason, it’s never bothered me as much as my legs. I can sorta laugh at my imperfect butt.
In general, I think of my body in extremes. I either feel incredibly proud of my curves, fully possessed and confident, or I feel like a total failure. Especially because right now I don’t just have issues with how I look, I also currently don’t feel very good. I have put on some weight over the winter, and I can feel that physically I am weaker than I was before. Physical activity is more difficult. My range of movement has lessened, and I just feel generally a little sick. Movement has always been a huge part of my life, and now I feel so limited. And it feels like it’s my fault for not eating well or exercising enough. I’ve had a hard time with both those things because I’ve been dealing with bouts of major depression and anxiety since moving to New York. The winter was also hard because I couldn’t exercise outside, and paying to use a gym or take classes is often too expensive. When I do use my body to dance or run or skate, I feel better about how I look because I feel capable. When I go through long periods of not eating great and not moving, I blame myself and feel deep, deep shame that ultimately leads me to using food to comfort myself, or curling up and not wanting to leave bed.
How do you react, what happens, when you see these parts of your body negatively?
I feel ashamed. Embarrassed. Weak. Disgusting. I doubt my own eyes and judgment...wondering if what I see in the mirror is true to life. I don’t trust my perception. I obsess. I talk myself down. “Your legs are too big...you’re disproportional. You’re too big to get acting work.” I talk myself back up. “I love my curves. I wouldn’t want to be a stick. I’m strong. My body is beautiful and ideal.” The worst thing that comes from me seeing my body this way, is the paralysis it puts me in. All I want to do is eat comfort food and not move. I feel so sad and helpless and stuck in my unhealthy habits. It keeps me from taking positive steps towards a healthier lifestyle.
Who would you be if you really loved your body?
If I really loved my body, I would be able to look in the mirror without obsessively comparing my image to both my past images and a projection of how I long to look. I would eat healthier and make exercise a priority. I wouldn’t compare my body to every body passing on the street. My love for myself wouldn’t wax and wane with fluxuations in my weight.
What hopes do you have that would arise when other people see these images? When you see this images?
I hope other people see these images and feel less alone, less ashamed, less afraid. I hope I can look at these images and feel love and appreciation for my body exactly as it is right now. I fear that I will see them and feel worse and too embarrassed for them to be shared...but that fear is what led me here. So here we go!