Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ms. Conceptions

There have been some very good posts lately about the pressures put on women to be a perfect size and body shape - whatever that means.

Growing up chubby and short, I definitely understand the pressure felt by young girls especially to be thin. Because of my strange height and Buddha belly, I couldn't actually wear an honest-to-God pair of jeans until about 5th grade, and even then it was after extreme begging of my mother to just hem a pair for me. Shopping was a nightmare.

The summer before seventh grade, I became a girl obsessed. Back then, I visited my father in California for the summers, but my father was going through his second wife leaving him, and my thoughts simply turned inward. I became very critical of myself. I unpacked my suitcase and pulled out the Billy Blanks Tae Bo videos that my best pal Aimee had loaned me for my trip. I swore right then I would work my butt off. I barely ate anything that summer, and I worked out at least once a day, if not twice. I lost a very unhealthy (yet life-defining) 13 pounds in less than five weeks.

I was proud of my weight loss, but what had I gained? I became even more critical of my appearance. Even my mother started worrying that I might have an eating disorder. And I certainly didn't gain any real friends for it.

I didn't actually get rid of the rest of my belly weight until about my freshman year of highschool, when God so mercifully let it head north on my body instead. Even then though, there was no satisfaction with my body. I was only 100 pounds, and a size zero, but thought of myself as a tub of lard. I think it was mostly because of my height. Nothing ever fit right. I knew I couldn't do anything about my height, but I figured if I lost more weight my thinness would make up for it. I felt that way through most of highschool and into my first year in college.

I'm still a mess sometimes, and shopping can still be a nightmare, but it's really amazing what a great guy will do for your self-esteem, especially one that enjoys where your "fat" is distributed on your body.

I've lost some of the college weight, and I'm as healthy as ever. I've given up on being totally critical of my body, reminding myself that some of the problems simply come with age and a busy, successful life. And some come from good summer days shared with a cop over a tub of Ben and Jerry's.

But I still ache for the young girls out there who struggle just like I did with my weight and view of myself. I'm glad for things like the Dove Real Beauty Campaign and the pressures from the public for the media to present us with real women, instead of ones that look like thirteen-year-old boys.

Note to Self: And just a reminder for the guys - If women don't have any fat, they have no boobs or booty. Break out the chocolate!

18 comments:

lauriekendrick said...

Here, here Sister!

And thanks so much for the link.

I appreciate it.

Best,
LK

Sornie said...

Unfortunately, for every Dove Real Beauty campaign type of inspiration, there is a half-naked celebutard stumbling drunkenly down the red carpet somewhere extolling the virtues of eating whatever she likes but failing to mention that she can only do so because she vomits it up minutes later.

livininsanity said...

Good Post. It is indeed a sad state of affairs America is in - a size zero feeling like a tub of lard. Tough times.

MJ said...

LK - No prob. I always enjoy giving link love when it's well-deserved.

Sornie - Very true. But I think I could stay in good shape if I were paid to look good. I would still eat what I want, just work out a lot. But alas, I am a normal human, and I enjoy milkshakes too much to give them up completely.

Livin - I feel like, having gone through it myself, I will be able to better handle a daughter should I have one. The sad part is, I think kids now have it harder than when I was young. I always feel the urge to slap the mother of the nine-year-old in full makeup.

the Grit said...

Hi MJ,

Correct me if I'm wrong, but, when you hit size zero, don't you collapse into a black hole and destroy the Earth?

the Grit

K Trainor said...

Slap away, MJ! They really need it. I've got five bucks for the bail fund, and I'm pretty sure I"m not the only one. :D

colbymarshall said...

I know what you mean about that whole being short not helping matters thing. Even though I am a pretty small human, it seems every extra inch I gain is crammed into my rear-end. Also like you said, though, fortunately my hubby likes me that way ;-)

Peter Parkour said...

Very well said indeed. I could go on and on about how right you are, but I'll just leave it at: You know it, girl. ;)

kweenmama said...

At my daughters' schools looking "perfect" is the "in" thing to do. Not only are girls concerned about their weight, they are concerned about every inch of their body. There are girls who have already had plastic surgery. It is so sad.

writer chick said...

I had similar problems as a kid but my fat was north early on and I spent much of my youth hiding it under big tee shirts and my dad's bowling shirts. Body image is a weird animal - my mother always inferred I was fat so like you, I ate very little and went through years of thinking of myself as a fat cow. Now, I try to stay active and eat healthily but I don't really care if I'm fat or thin - I just want to feel good. And yeah, the great guys will make you feel like you look good too.
WC

Kelsee said...

Great post and loved the links. It is a sad sad world. I too have body image issues but have matured enough to except them. I still obsess when I shouldn't about certain things but I try to put my negative thoughts in check, especially because I have a daughter. Thanks for the dose of reality.
BTW I am 5 ft and understand what your talking about. Just wait until you have a bun in the oven LOL

~ alison said...

Amen, sista! Great post! I have to say our parents can have ALOT to do with eating disorders at such a young age. I suffer from one myself. So - I truely appreciate the post. Thanks!

pure evyl said...

I couldn't agree more. Women and particularly young women are tried to fit in a mold that is neither feasible nor healthy. It is far better to have your beauty shine from within than to try to fit in any mold.

MJ said...

Grit - That's only when you pass size 00. I'm not sure what exactly a size 00 means, but it does in fact exist.

K - Sounds good. As long as you'll post bail...

CM - The guys like the bootay (thankfully).

PP - Thanks :)

KM - It is very sad. I believe this obsession gets worse with each new generation of girls. I didn't even shave my legs until 5th grade, didn't wear any makeup until 7th, didn't wear full makeup until 9th, and I don't think plastic surgery has ever seriously crossed my mind. I couldn't imagine paying for plastic surgery for my teen, but I knew girls in college who got boob jobs for high school graduation gifts.

WC - I had a friend who had it all on top when we were young. She also tried to cover it up as much as she could. She would wear sports bras practically every day. I'm glad you have come to terms with it like I have.

Kelsee - I like that, "matured enough to accept them." That's a perfect statement. I wish more women could feel that way. I'm am praying my heart out that I'll be one of those cute little pregnant ladies, but I'm guessing that won't happen, especially when I end up as big around as I am tall lol.

Alison - Very true. Both my parents were critical of me, in their own different ways. My father took me to a doc when I was 8, telling me I was overweight. The doc's conclusion? Your father is an idiot, and you're fine. My mom would simply torture me on shopping trips - "You're too fat to wear that..." I think it's imperative for parents to cultivate good self-esteem.

PE - So true. I'm not condoning being overweight, but being super-thin is not the answer either. There is a happy, healthy medium for everyone. We just have to find it and be happy with it. Thanks for my email, BTW.

SarahM said...

i know the feeling. im 5 foot even and i get it sometimes too. it was a tough life growin up.

having a man that holds you in the highest reagard does wonders for your self esteem. but we also need to cultivate that ourselves. and for our kids...

p.s. ill take some chocolate hunny:")

MJ said...

SM - Mmmmmmm... chocolaaaate....

girlydigs said...

This was a great post MJ! I have two daughters.. both gorgeous! The 16 year old is tall and slender, and is always critisizing herself. She wears a size 5 juniors.. and she thinks she needs to lose wait. And at the same time wishes her boobs were bigger. I am always talking to her about the very issues that you discuss here. She is coming around.. but, I worry about her.

I hate the images that are shoved in our face telling us what beautiful is supposed to be...

True beauty comes from within...

MJ said...

So true. Sounds like you are an awesome mom.

Tell your daughter there is no such thing as skinny girls with real boobs. It's one or the other, or else something is fake.