What places on your body do you hope to see differently?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been trying to make my body smaller. Now ask anyone, I take up space. And I don’t just mean in stature. In personality, too. I've always been a larger-than-life kind of person, with a belly laugh heard miles away (or at least through the wall to my neighbor’s living room). This extroverted, could-sit-alone-happily-talking-a-rock personality of mine, has always been mine, and is one of the things I love most about myself. So when I think about it clinically, I can clearly see that my desire to become physically smaller completely opposes the very nature of who I am to the core: expansive.
This learned need to become physically smaller in order to be liked, loved, made-love-to, or even hired (news flash everyone: my size has nothing to do with my skill set) has infiltrated simple, every day thought and behavior for as long as I can remember. It’s created a lot of “rules” my body must follow, not to mention an entire section in my closet dedicated to: “Clothes I'll Wear When My Belly Is Flat.” I say no all the time because of my stomach fat. I say no to buying the cute bathing suit, wearing the dress, talking to the hot guy at the bar, auditioning for the part, and even starting a band. Can you believe that?? I remember once having the thought, “When I’m skinny, I’ll start a folk band.” WHAT?! What does being skinny have to do with starting in a folk band? The embarrassment and hatred I've held for my stomach since I was 8 years old has become my fear’s favorite tool. It’s become the reason I say ‘no’ to all the things in which I dream of saying ‘yes’.
Maybe I would say no a little less if I loved my fat a little more. Maybe I'd care a little less about what people thought of my body. Maybe I’d finally breath DEEPLY, instead of sucking in my stomach for other people. I honestly wonder what if would feel like to deprogram myself from sucking-in. Maybe I'd actually find my belly sexy. Maybe I’d finally see that my belly’s not actually keeping me from doing the things I dream, just fear, hate and insecurity.
How do you feel about them currently?
My body’s been fluctuating again. As places on my body grow and evolve, I’ve found myself slipping back into the habit of chastising every single change. Chastising each curve and roll as it expands. Old standards have seeped back into my skin, and I’ve found myself caring deeply again about numbers and measurements, making them the lenses through which I see my own beautiful body.
I've called out "When I'm skinny, I'll be happy" as the insultingly limiting and un-sustainable myth I've believed, but I still feel as if those words are lightly engraved in ever curve and fold of my body. Undoing years of hate isn't easy. I'm having a hard time being patient with myself when I start hating the fat on my body again.
How do you react, what happens, when you see these parts of your body negatively?
I hide myself. I constantly think about how people are seeing that part of me. I say no. I slouch my shoulders. I apologize. For who I am, for taking space in the room, for not having rock hard abs. I punish myself mentally and physically because of my body fat. I blame myself for my size. I'm more prone to stay in when I am embarrassed about my weight, when I really want to go out. I feel a sense of shame for all the time and opportunity I've wasted not having the perfect body.
Who would you be if you really loved your body?
When I first read this question, my immediate impulse was to take a deep, guttural breath. That's who I'd be. Someone who isn't programmed to suck it in. Someone who naturally breathes deeply. When I breathe deeply like that I feel free. Free from my own negative thinking. Free from the fear of other people opinions. Free from the weight bias and illogical standards taught to me. Free from fear. Who gives a shit if my belly shows in the dress?? Who gives a shit if my belly shows on the beach?? It feels so good to imagine really deeply loving my body. So good! It's like the dream version of me, which is usually "skinny me" is now just me.
What hopes do you have that would arise when other people see these images? When you see these images?
Even I, who am deeply biased having spent 18 years hating my stomach, can look at this images and see the beauty. I can also feel the years of hurt there, and all the beauty made through that. It's my hope that when other women see these images, that they have the thought, "maybe belly fat isn't bad or ugly." I know that's the hope I have for me. To deeply love this body.