My Views on My Body – Then and Now

I’m going to start at the top of my body and work my way down.  I’m going to pick one body part and say what I used to think about it then and what I think about it now.  This is going to be hard because it will require absolute honesty from me.  I think I need to do this post in front of a mirror.  Last summer when Bubba left town, I was hovering right around 140-143 pounds.  Now, I am about 116 pounds (I gained 5 pounds over the summer when the kids were gone).  I am a bit over 5’2″ tall.

My hair –

THEN:  In the past, I’ve permed, teased, hairsprayed, colored, and straightened it.  I tried to change it from everything that it was into everything that it wasn’t.

NOW:  I’ve been no-’poo (no shampoo) for about 4 years now.  It took a good 2 years to finally embrace the natural texture of my hair.  For the most part my hair care routine consists of washing it every Sunday with 1 drop of tea tree oil in a cup of water, then following it with an apple cider vinegar rinse.  Occasionally, I’ll do a conditioner wash, but that is rare.  I love my curls and the texture of my hair.  Even though I have more and more gray hair each year, I love my hair.

My face –

THEN:  Oh, how many things were wrong with my face?  My nose was too big and ugly.  My eyebrows took over my entire forehead.  Celia use to say that I had “shitty” brown eyes.  My two front bottom teeth are crooked.  I truly thought I was ugly.

NOW:  I pierced my nose almost two years ago.  I love it!  I now think my nose is pretty.  I would like my eyebrows to have a nicer arch to them but they are fine.  I spent some time studying my eyes and I think they are actually quite beautiful.  They are lighter in the center with a very dark ring around the outside of my iris.  There are also small flecks of dark in my iris. They are very interesting eyes if you pay attention to them up close.  And my crooked teeth don’t matter.  Now when I smile, I smile with my whole face.  I don’t think anyone is going to notice a teeny bit of crookedness in my bottom teeth.

My neck and shoulder area –

THEN:  I was constantly picked on by Bubba about my double chin.  It was a great source of embarrassment and it was only heightened by his constantly calling attention to it.  I never really had an opinion about my shoulders but I envied women who had visible collar bones.

NOW:  I look at my neck and don’t see a double-chin unless I look down.  I have visible collar bones and I think they are quite sexy. I love my shoulders with their liberal dose of freckles.

My breasts –

THEN:  I was always impressed with their amazing ability to nourish my babies.  They became off limits to Bubba when I was nursing.  I was so touched out that I couldn’t stand to have him touch my breasts when I finally got the baby off of them.  That never stopped him though.  They were constantly being grabbed and fondled, even when children were around.  My breasts became weapons that were used against me and I didn’t like them because he used them in such a manner.  He also offered quite a few times to pay for the surgery if I wanted to have implants.  The first time he offered, I told him there was no way I was ever going to do that but that didn’t stop him from offering again and again.   It wasn’t safe to have feelings against him but I could despise my body all I wanted.

NOW:  My breasts may be small but I love them!   As a good friend once told me, gravity is kinder to smaller breasts.  Sure, they are headed south, but not so terribly badly because they aren’t big enough to travel far.  I bought some pretty bras simply because they are pretty and make me feel sexy.

My back –

THEN: I never really thought much about my back except I hated how it looked in a swimsuit.  I know I had rolls back there so for the past few years I avoided swimming (well, that was only one small factor, but that is another post).

NOW:  I don’t actually think much about it.  I went swimming with a friend and asked her if my back looked fat and she told me no.  That was the end of that.  I just don’t worry about it.

My stomach –

THEN:  Ick. Ick. Ick.  I have hated my stomach from the time I can remember.  I always saw myself as fat.  I never had that ideal flat stomach.  As I’m thinking back about how I used to feel about these body parts, I’m reminded how very many comments I used to get from Bubba about them.  He would make a point to grab my belly flab and make a comment about it.  I don’t remember the exact comments as much as I remember the grabs and the feelings behind it.  He knew how I felt about my stomach so I never understood why he would point that huge failing out to me as often as he did.  Now I see it was just part of the abuse.  It was a vulnerability that he could exploit.

NOW: I have very mixed emotions about my tummy.  I will always be pudgy there simply because I don’t have the motivation to do anything with it.  I constantly have my core muscles engaged.  I’m still self-conscious about my tummy.  Yet, I love my tummy because that is where I housed my babies.  I don’t have the body of a 20 year old.  I have the body of a 41 year old mother.  I earned the saggy skin on my tummy.  I could do a million crunches and still have the saggy skin.  I got huge with my pregnancies so there was a lot of extra skin.  Now, I’m okay with that for the most part.  I’m learning to love my tummy.  I still have work to do in this area as far as acceptance, but I’m working on it.

My butt –

THEN:  I thought of my butt as both fat and flat.  I spent the majority of my time trying to hide it under long, baggy t-shirts and not calling attention to it by not bending over.  I hated my butt because Bubba really seemed to like it.

NOW:  It’s still flat but it isn’t fat anymore.  I’ve accepted that I’ll never have a nicely rounded tush because that is just not the way I’m built.  And I’m ok with that.  I no longer have a huge negative view of my butt.  I’ve worked really hard to overcome the not-bending-over-to-pick-stuff-up-so-no-one-will-look-at-my-butt thing.  I’ve had to force myself to bend over to pick things up with other people around just to desensitize myself to doing it.  I’m now to the point where I think that if I’m bending over and a man wants to look at my butt, I simply don’t care.

My hips –

THEN:  They were wide and fat and I didn’t like them.  Bubba would always comment on how my hips would swing when I walked.  I learned to walk very stiffly so that my hips did not swing – yet another way to try to protect myself.

NOW: I think my hips are sexy.  Like I said, I’ve housed babies in my body.  I have hips that show that fact and they are just the right size for my frame.  I can see my hipbones but not in a bad, I’m-too-skinny way.  Now I embrace the swing of my hips when I walk. For being short, I have a very long stride and I think that contributes to how much my hips swing when I walk.

My legs –

THEN:  I’ve always said that I inherited my father’s chicken ankles.  I think my legs were the least likely to inspire bad feelings in me.  I wasn’t thrilled with my ankles but I didn’t despise my ankles or my legs like I did other parts of my body.

NOW:  I think I have nice legs.  I love the freckles that pop out all over them in the summer.  I have very pale skin so they make a striking contrast all over my legs.

My feet –

THEN:  For 20 years I was told I had fat feet.  Bubba hated my feet and so did I because I did not see them in any other way than how he defined them.

NOW:  I love painting my toenails.  I love wearing sexy shoes and giving myself pedicures is part of the process.  I no longer see my feet as fat.  My feet are simply my feet.

In conclusion –

I can see that all of my body image issues were because of outside forces.  I always listened to what other people said about my body and internalized it to the point where I did not like me.  A couple of months after Bubba left town, I was drying my hair and I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and thought, “I’m kinda cute.”  That thought almost knocked me flat on my ass.  That is the first time in my life I ever remember looking in the mirror and liking what I saw.  Since then I’ve had many times that I’ve looked in the mirror and been pleased with my reflection.

I still have a lot of work to do.  There are still thoughts and feelings I have about myself that I know aren’t realistic or true.  I still hear those voices in my head at times, trying to tear me back down.  I still have to work hard to allow myself to wear form fitting (yes, truly form fitting) clothes because there is still fear in there about what would happen if I did attract a man’s attention.  But I refuse to let those voices and that fear win.  I am learning to love my body.  This is the only body I have so why not find the joy and wonder in it instead of criticizing it?  There isn’t one good reason that I can find to do that.  I choose to find the joy and wonder and to learn to love the skin I’m in.

***I typed this post a few months ago.  Since I originally wrote this as a journal entry, I’ve done a little more healing.  That last paragraph really sticks out to me because I absolutely LOVE wearing truly form fitting clothes now.  I am learning to dress in a way that is flattering to my size and frame.  While my tummy still isn’t toned, I just always engage my core muscles and I’m happy with how I look.  I walk with my head held high.  I am proud of how I look because I’ve worked so hard to get my mind believing that I’m beautiful.***

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