Body Image Blues
My body does not change drastically by the day, hour, or minute. But my perception of it can.
Take yesterday for example. It was July 4th - my gal pal’s birthday. We lounged poolside, we drank spiked seltzers, and we giggled endlessly. I absorbed it all: the friendships, the sunshine, the goofy pictures we captured. Documenting an afternoon well spent. I felt secure in my body. In my swim suit. In myself.
I felt good. Like, shaking my butt, dancing in the street good.
That night - after I’d showered off the Sun Bum I’d been lathered in - I squirmed under the duvet with my fan blasting. My dogs tucked on either side of the blanket that I slowly tugged upwards. With the tugging of the blanket came intrusive thoughts about my bikini clad body.
My eyes adjusted to my screen’s brightness. I swiped right, through my most recent saved photos. Ones that I recall loving, suddenly looked so, different. I’ve trained myself to always look at my face first in photos. Eyes, usually squinty and embraced by laugh lines. Mouth, usually gaping open either laughing or talking. Pure joy is usually radiating from my face. Then my gaze shifts South.
Oh, my stomach. Oh, the rolls. Oh, the squish. The softness! Oof. I was not prepared for that-not at 10:00pm with my boyfriend sleeping silently beside me. I knew what I would have done 4 years ago: created a plan of repercussions for the following day(s). Little food would be consumed, while lots of strenuous movement would be endured. I would punish and push myself to depletion. Making sure I knew how disgusting and unworthy of love I was all the while.
Instead, I sent my favorite photo of myself from the day to my sister, Nicole. With it I said “I’m having a hard time, I look happy, but I feel chubby :/”. She replied saying “You is looking so happy and free and beautiful!”. And followed up after my reply, with “I hear you and I am with you”. I read it. Again and again. And I breathed that in: I hear you and I am with you. I exhaled, said I love you, and tucked my thoughts and I deeper in the duvet. Ready to drift beyond the body image doubts that were slowly disbursing from my mind.
Today, July 5th, I ate without acknowledging the intrusive thoughts. I did not exercise. I told myself I - and my body - were deserving of love and experiencing joy. I practiced seeing people, just as Nicole had seen me the night before. It’s now 10:58pm on July 5th. My coconut-milk PB soft-serve is thawing on the kitchen counter and I just sent a message saying “I love you PS” to Nicole. While enjoying bites of my soft-serve and saying gratitudes to the universe, I make a mental note: I made it. I made it through the hangover that was body image blues.