Body image is a touchy subject with women, me included. There is so much psychology mixed with physiology combined with sociology… it’s enough to make a woman want to go live on an island by herself. I don’t love my body but I also don’t really hate it either. I know I have good features (my legs are pretty decent) and not-so-great features (I like to keep wearing maternity shirts just for the extra length. Believe me, NO ONE needs to see my muffin top.)
When I graduated high school, I knew I didn’t really have the greatest body. Not repulsive, but let’s just say that I ONLY wore a bikini when I was by myself, on the dock at the lake, trying to get a tan and spraying lemon juice on my hair.
My high school cheerleader’s uniform was a size 12. Well, I guess I was an 11/12, since technically juniors are odd sizes. But, the 12 was always part of the equation.
Going to college, I didn’t really gain the freshman 15, because I already had learned horrible eating habits at home years before. My family was all about having Cokes with dinner every night of the week and dessert was a regular affair. I never once ate non-sugared cereal before I got married. Luckily my genes and metabolism prevented me from becoming a mammoth-sized. I was just basically ignorant when it came to good nutrition: I knew the 4 basic food groups but really it had never occurred to me that Cokes might be bad for me. Or that having unsugared cereal might be a wise choice, every once in a while. I felt like a nutritional champion if I had a serving of fruits and vegetables at lunch AND dinner.
When I graduated college, I’d gained about 5 pounds, but I was still a size 12.
I met my husband when I had been out of college for 3 years. All those years being a single person, cooking for one, can be a boring job. Quite often I would just stop at Casey’s general Store and get a slice of pizza for dinner or else eat a bologna sandwich at 10pm. If I ever bought grapes or a head of lettuce, it would inevitably go bad before I was able to eat it all. I just never could motivate myself to make an effort.
When I finally got married in 1998, I had gained another 5 lbs. And my wedding dress? A size 12.
Now I am the mom to 4 kids. Pregnant with #5. I can’t stand to look at my stomach. I would NEVER wear a bikini now, no matter how much money you paid me. I don’t hate my body, mostly because I have decided that hating my body is simply wasted energy. I have resigned myself to have the attitude of: If I want to eat the foods I like, then I have to accept the body I have. If I want to have a better body, then I have to give up foods that I love, like chocolate and braunschweiger.
After almost 11 years of marriage and birthing 4 children, I have gained an additional 5 pounds. And, I’m still a size 12.
So, here’s the mystery: How in the hell am I still a size 12? I know damn good and well that my body is NOT the body that I had in high school. And, granted, back then I was probably a 10-or-12 and now I’m more like a 12-or-14, but last year I finally gave away a pair of jeans that fit me in high school and still fit me when I put them in the Goodwill pile. I had to pass them along because I just had to make more room for more up-to-date purchases. And, still I can occasionally fit into a size 10. So, what gives?
I consider myself quite blessed that my family is pretty healthy (relatively speaking) and I don’t have any relatives with any type of obesity. If anything, all my female relatives end up losing weight as they get older. So, I have that to look forward to, which is nice.
But I keep wondering, will I be a 12? What if I drop 25 pounds – will I still be a 12? And, after I’ve gained these 15 pounds since 1990, where did I put it if I am still wearing the same size? When people see me and say, “Gosh, you really look exactly the same as you did in high school” I can say that I honestly do believe them.
But, deep down, I have always wanted to be a single-digit kind of gal. In high school, when everyone else was complaining of feeling fat in their size 6 skirts, I hated knowing that I would *always* be on the bottom of the cheerleader pyramid. I would never be the “flyer” but always the “base”. I was never called “pretty” but rather, people referred to me as “athletic” or “cute”. I always longed to be thought of as a delicate female, but people always thought of me as the tough girl with the sharp wit who you didn’t want to mess with. I think my size-12 body kept me from believing that anyone thought I was beautiful. I still have trouble believing that. Not that size 12 is anything to be ashamed of, but of all the people I hung around with I was always the biggest. So, “size 12” represented “least desirable girl in the group”. Of course, this is rooted deeply from back in high school, where looks were everything and putting someone’s personality and character ahead of their looks was a theory only, one preached by our stupid parents who didn’t know anything anyway.
But, for now, size 12 isn’t so bad. I am hoping to hold onto my size 12 for a while. I just bought some shorts at Marshalls the other day, and they were size 12. With some extra room. I probably could have gotten the 10, but that just wouldn’t have been ME.
Texan Mama writes at Who Put Me in Charge of These People??