My body image has always haunted me. My personal narrative and the words I’ve told myself are not kind. It’s important to note that I would never think the things I have said to myself about another woman. I look at other women, all varieties of women, and think they (we) are beautiful.
All my life, I’ve hidden my body in baggy clothes, avoiding mirrors except for when I sought them out in order to find every last part of myself I didn’t like. I picked myself apart, searching out every spot of cellulite. I ridiculed myself when I only worked out four times that week, sure that I was no longer “ok.” Dieting and counting calories led me to a point in high school and college where I didn’t eat.
I’m different now. That is not to say that all the negative self talk has gone away, only that my body image is slowly transforming. Negativity rears its ugly head at inopportune times, like in that funny spot after having kids when they’re no longer babies; I was sure my old body should be back and it wasn’t.
Like anyone, I’ve had setbacks, but I’m better. Better to myself. I attribute this to a few things:
My amazing husband. He sees my beauty and constantly makes sure that I know it. The soft touch of his hand on mine in the car or an off-handed comment (“You look beautiful tonight.”) can make all the difference.
Becoming a mother. Watching my own body change over nine months. Grow a child. I grew two children! In my body! And then gave BIRTH! My body was meant for this awe-inspiring thing.
Starting CrossFit. I used to go to gyms (for way too long and way too regularly), and do the elliptical for an hour. I would get on the scale to measure.
Now? I measure my worth by the weight I lift and the amazing things my body can do. I celebrate getting stronger, not skinnier. Because of CrossFit, I can deadlift well over my body weight. I can lift my five year-old over my head when we wrestle. I look at my legs in the mirror and see strength to do a heavy squat. I work my abs so I can pick up diaper bags, purses (because what mom carries just one bag), and squirmy children while being able to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. I work to be strong now, and I relish the calories I take in because they allow me to stay strong for my family.
My negative body image will likely always be a part of my narrative. But now I battle it with strength.