The Naked Truth

photo courtesy of stock.xchng

I am 37 almost 38. This body has birthed two beautiful girls and kept up with a wonderful man for almost ten years of marriage. I’ve never been an athlete, but I’ve always tried to be mildly active. I am strong, beautiful and healthy.

I know all this, so why then when my sweet husband decides to sneak a peek at me in the shower do I yell at him to get out?

Because, I am a woman and when I look at myself naked all I see are stretch marks and extra years of weight that continue to follow me around. He still sees his younger bride. Love is blind.

It’s easy to hide under clothes, layers of make-up or a great haircut. I’m not even that much over weight, maybe 10 – 15 lbs, but it doesn’t matter if you are a size 4 or a size 14. When you don’t feel comfortable in your own skin your attitude about your body sucks. You find ways to change clothes in the dark or in another room. You try to slide into bed after your spouse has gone to sleep and you definitely try to shower when no one is home. Feeling bad about your body robs you of intimacy and leaves you anxious and guilty.

And unfortunately the people in my life that strongly offer their unsolicited advice about losing weight actually do more harm than good. I struggled with an eating disorder for about ten years, from the teen-age years until I was in my mid to upper twenty’s. Urging me to diet is like offering alcohol to a recovering alcoholic. There is a fear that once I start dieting, I won’t stop.

I remember being constantly consumed by calorie counting, finding ways to avoid meals with others, exercising non-stop until I burned every calorie I had to consume and at times turning to laxatives or vomiting to get rid of everything else. The scale got used everyday, sometimes several times a day. It was a full-time job to keep my 4 ft 11 1/2 inch body at  90 lbs.

90 lbs.

It doesn’t sound that underweight for someone my height. In fact, many websites offering suggestions on body weight based on height, suggest that the ideal weight for someone my height is 95-100 lbs. The problem is that my body doesn’t want to naturally stay there. At 90-95 lbs I rarely had a period, my hair was thin and lacked luster. Like I said, maintaining that weight was a full-time job. It became my only identity – to be the skinny girl.

Eating disorders are one of those things we avoid honestly talking about with one another. Sure, we joke and chatter about weight loss, dieting and exercise all the time. But what would you do if you were really struggling with an eating disorder? Would you ever tell anyone? Or what if you suspected one of your friends or family members? We tend to look the other way, or justify their actions. We justify our own actions because it feels too good to wear a smaller size or catch a compliment here and there. As the mother of two girls, it is imperative that I not only pay attention to their bodies, being aware of any unhealthy weight loss or eating habits,  but also important that I don’t draw too much attention to my own. It’s a game of balance.

Life is full of uncontrollable variables. I can’t control my children’s behavior, my family’s health, my husband’s job, people’s moods, or sometimes even our schedule. As a stay-at-home mom I struggle with finding my value during the day when I am all consumed with laundry, housecleaning and family management. When I introduce myself to people, I cringe when I’m asked “What do you do?” Sometimes it is hard to block those childish and defensive voices in my head saying, “I might not have a job, but at least I’m thinner than you.” I forget that I am more than what shows on the surface. If I was a working mom, I’m sure that I would struggle with feelings of guilt for not being more available. My weight is greatly effected now by my age, lifestyle, hypothyroidism and medication. When so much seems out of our control, we tend to gravitate to the few things in our life that we do feel like we have control over, like our weight.

I’m going to just put it all out there – I’m hovering at 115-117 lb these days and wear a size 4. I’m sure I’ve just lost a few readers by divulging that personal information, but like I said before, not feeling good about your body happens whether you are a size 4 or a size 14. And when those negative feelings start effecting your everyday life and intimate relationships, it’s time to make a change. Just be sure it is for the right reasons and not because some person, magazine or article told you that you are overweight. The change might not even need to be a change in weight, but a change in attitude.

I feel driven to write this because so much of our self-esteem as women comes from how we perceive ourselves. Every day I’m either faced with my own struggles or see the struggles of others. It makes me sad to think we haven’t evolved more or that we still struggle to support one another more effectively. I also worry about my children’s personal perceptions and self-esteem.

We need to talk more honestly with our family and friends.

We need to be more honest with ourselves.

And obviously  if you find yourself ,or someone you care about, struggling with a suspected eating disorder, you need to seek help.

Helpful Resources:

6 thoughts on “The Naked Truth

  1. I’ve only just discovered your blog but I’m sure you underestimate your readers if you think anyone would stop reading you because you aren’t a size 0! I’m very critical of myself but I have far less stringent standards for others (although I’m always secretly glad when I’m “thinnest” when I feel insecure about other aspects of my life in comparison with others!).
    I’m glad you did come through and reach some sense of stability and well-being, even if you will always be sensitive. I hope you can protect your daughters from the obsession with skinny, as it’s such an overwhelming and ubiquitous issue…

  2. Think of this as your winter body; you need protection from the cold! When the warmer weather comes, you can take your walks or runs, the sun will come out and so will your sunny attitude. Being healthy is the only important consideration. You are a remarkable woman with amazing gifts. That should be the view you have of yourself. Oh, and by the way, you are gorgeous and always have been!

  3. Your post touched me. I realize “My Pajama Days” may be a “Girls” thing, but self-image, and self-esteem are not age or gender based. The statement “Feeling bad about your body robs you of intimacy and leaves you anxious and guilty.” is as true for a guy 67 and 290 lbs as it is for a 37 (almost 38 ) 115 lb. lady.

  4. Oh, I feel so sad that you have this worry. I joke all the time about eating candy and my poor nutrition, but in the end, I don’t feel a burden in being a size 12. I agree with you, that it’s a sad commentary on our society that this still is how we measure our worth. Not sure what the answer is, but I do know that Satan laughs when we abuse the one thing he can never have~a physical body. So surely, one of his greatest works is to get us to hate what he wants so desperately. Our misery is his joy. Kind of makes me want to stick it to him and enjoy all that my Heavenly Father has given me, appreciating what I am, not commiserating over what I am not.

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