I have always had body image issues. Looking at me, you might think that most of them are and were weight-related, and you wouldn’t be wrong. I have long struggled with accepting that I am fat, and it has gotten even more difficult after I had managed to lose a substantial amount of weight and then gained it all back after thyroid issues and psychiatric medication. But it is not only that.
After having been bullied about the way I look for most of my life, I internalized those words. I didn’t feel an ounce attractive for many years. I believed those that said that I was unfuckable, unlovable. And the sexual abuse I went through in my home as a child, and then later at school, didn’t help with my screwed up relationship to my body. I hate my body for a variety of reasons, but more so, I have a hard time embracing a positive body image.
I have written on fat acceptance before and you know, when it comes to accepting the reality of things and recognizing the fact that I am fat, I am in a good place. Still, I am not especially happy with the fact that I am. But it is what it is. There is no way for me to lose weight the way I did that one time in the past, due to new health conditions. I think I have come to terms with that. All I can do is to live as healthily as I can, and I am doing that. I am trying my hardest to be active, to eat well and to do self-care. Fat acceptance and body image issues don’t exclude each other.
And it is not only the weight. When I was normal weight, even skinny, I didn’t like the way I looked. I hated seeing myself naked. I still felt fat, and if not that, then I was disgusted by some of the loose skin that you are stuck with after major weight loss. Again, I don’t like that I am fat. But I have accepted it. My baseline when it comes to my weight, is just that. And from that point I might be able to walk on a path of that turns self-acceptance into self-love.
I think one of the body parts that most overweight people most struggle with, is the belly. And I am no exception. I can put on a fancy push-bra and my boobs look fine. I can wear a dress that hides my thighs, or a cardigan to hide my upper arms. But I can’t hide my belly. It is always going to stick out (unless I am wearing a tent). Don’t let advertisement fool you, you can wear as much shapewear as you want, but if you are fat, it will not make your big belly disappear. If I would have to pick my least favourite body part, it would be definitely my belly.
I think self-love and positive body image are about a process, like with almost everything else in life. You are not going to wake up one day and suddenly love your body and the way that it looks. But you can work on having more good days than bad days. And shift your focus. And for me, that shift in focus has come with acceptance. I don’t go with what I want my body to look like, and dream up impossible scenarios of perky boobs and flat stomachs. That is just going to make me feel worse about myself.
I now look at my body the way that it is. Yes, there are parts that I absolutely hate and that I sometimes cry over. But there are also parts that are pretty okay. I love the way my ass looks. I love the shape of my body. And because I have a pretty decent idea of what kind of clothes work for me, without dressing like clueless plus size clothing designers think I should dress, I can look okay when wearing clothes.
So I am taking baby steps. I love the way my body looks clothed. Sometimes. I can look in the mirror before leaving the house, and think: Well, I look pretty great. It helps that I get positive feedback, of course. It still sometimes confuses me when people, random people, come up to me and tell me how they love the way I look, the dress that I am wearing, my hair, my make-up. I think that is one thing that I want to take pride in: that I make the package work. Just the other day someone told me I look fucking amazing. A woman, even. It is easier to get positive comments from men, than it is from women.
It also helps to post nudes of myself on this blog and on my Fetlife account. So far, I have not received a single negative comment on any of my pictures. I think it might eventually slowly sink in that not everyone has the same kind of view of my naked body. There are people who can appreciate a body that looks different. What I most struggle with is that fat acceptance and body images issues are still related for me. I wished that the acceptance would have also sorted the negativity I have towards what my body looks like.
But yeah, I think I have a long way to go when it comes to embracing the way my body looks naked. I am already there when it comes to seeing how clothes, underwear and lingerie can make me look quite alright. At this point, I am grateful that my partner loves my body the way it is. If he can appreciate me naked, maybe i will get there one day too.