Body Image 101: I can’t get no satisfaction

Body image is a funny thing. Not in a “haha” sort of way, but more in an ironic way because I can never seem to be really happy with my body, no matter what my size is.

When I was in my teens all I wanted were boobs. I was super skinny and tried a mélange of things to gain weight, some even very unhealthy things. Despite my efforts the most I was able to put on was about 10lbs, bringing my total weight to 130lbs by the end of high school.

130lbs put me at the very low end of a “normal” weight based on my height. I still didn’t have boobs, much to my chagrin, and I hated my body. When I slept with men for the first time my shirt always stayed on because at least I could fake my lack of a chest by wearing a good push-up bra.

I felt like a super awkward stick person. I’ve been told I’m pretty for much of my life, and at times I guess I believed it, but for the most part I did not feel womanly at all.

And I desperately wanted to feel like a woman.

I tried to feel better about myself through self-photography. As a result I have a number of images of myself in various degrees of undress. It helped somewhat – in looking at the images I was able to see what others saw, which wasn’t so bad. As soon as I critiqued myself live in front of a mirror, however I again hated what I saw.

In my mid-twenties my body started to change. I gained weight, switching to the very high end of “normal” and at times was even over “normal” and into “overweight.” I am lucky I guess in that I’m tall so even when I was heavier it wasn’t noticeable. I grew boobs and hips and an ass, all the womanly parts I wanted when I was younger but didn’t have and couldn’t get.

And you know what? I still wasn’t happy. Suddenly I had days where I just felt fat and couldn’t for the life of me find something flattering to wear. I went from one extreme to the next with no stop between to feel satisfied about my body.

I did an informal experiment with Mr. Dreads and Mr. Spice this weekend, both the only men who have seen me nude since my ex (and I couldn’t very well ask him!) I showed them a scale of women’s bodies from underweight to obese and asked them to place me on that scale. I also did the same for myself.

Both men placed me in the middle of average weight. I placed myself at the high end of average, bordering on overweight. Clearly there’s a disconnect here. I know both men love my body, and really I should trust their judgement because they’ve seen more “real” women nude than I have, certainly. Actually, I really shouldn’t care at all what they think, but I do.

Of course I do.

Oh well, here’s to learning to love my body….

– image: me