I’ve been very conscious of my appearance for the majority of my life.
When I was 2-3 years old, my mom had all of my hair cut off. Well, not “all” of it, but you get the idea. I had bowl cut that made me look like a boy. I understand her reasoning. Any time she tried to brush out or braid my hair, I cried. I cried because it hurt. We didn’t realize until I was 16 years old that I had chronic headaches. Before that, she thought I was just being a pain in the ass. Sorry, Mom; turns out I was in real pain. Anyway…for the better portion of my childhood, I was often mistaken for a boy. My classmates teased me all the time. In the beginning, it didn’t bother me all that much. It was mostly boys that tormented me and, guess what? In the earlier years, girls tend to be stronger than boys. 😉 I kicked their asses, for making fun of me.
When I was in fourth grade, I got my first pair of glasses. For some reason I lucked out; at that time, it was “cool” to have glasses. But as time went on, smaller frames became more fashionable, and the frames that rested upon my cheekbones turned me into a dweeb (I actually forgot about this term until someone said it yesterday).
I’m not sure when it started, but at some point in my life, family members started commenting on my “bubble butt.” I didn’t really know what they were talking about; my butt was my butt. But I could tell that their comments had negative connotations. And that, my friends, was the start of my physical self-consciousness. I didn’t know why my butt wasn’t right, but I knew that it wasn’t, because my family members said so.
From there, things got worse. In the years of adolescence, a lot of girls developed earlier than I did. In fact, one could almost say that I still haven’t developed. I don’t know about you, but when I think of adolescent girls “developing,” I think of breasts. Maybe it’s just me, but that seemed to always be the determining factor of exterior “womanhood.” No one was supposed to know about your period–that’s private. My “friends” used to mock me for being “flat.” How original, right? Yep. Even today, at 28 years of age, I only wear a 34A size bra. I’m not ashamed. I have what I have. I’m not a “buxom beauty.” I only have the ass of the ass-and-tits combo. I’ve come to terms with it. But, when I was younger, it was really devastating. It really hurt to constantly be reminding that guys wanted “boobs” and I didn’t have what guys wanted.
Fast-forward to the teenage years…. I weighed, on average, 106 pounds. That is not very much for a girl that stood 5’4″-5’5″. In fact, I was underweight (and not because I had an eating disorder). I ate all the time. I ate crap. I was “lazy.” I didn’t exercise. I didn’t play any sports other than volleyball. The majority of my free time was spent watching TV, playing video games, and reading books. And yet…and yet…I was still the recipient of comments from one particular family member about my “bubble butt.” Teenage years aren’t difficult enough, right? Let’s add some body image issues to it too.
Just in case you’ve lost track, here’s a summary for you: In high school, I had short hair, glasses with too-big frames, a flat chest, and a big ass. Let’s not forget the standard teenage acne, either!
It wasn’t until my Freshman year of college that I started wearing makeup. It wasn’t until my Junior year of college that I started gaining weight. The weight gain was slow but steady. My metabolism must have started slowing down. The additional knee surgeries certainly didn’t help. My already-low self-esteem sank lower and lower.
By my Junior year of college, my mom was making more comments about my weight and I was feeling beyond ashamed. My then-boyfriend B____ shamed me into exercising in spite of my knee pain. It hurt, but I lifted weights three days per week and biked daily. I changed my diet too. I saw results very quickly. By the end of the summer of 2007, I was in the best shape of my life. Of course, that was when Ambien was helping me sleep and I didn’t have energy concerns.
Since then, I have had my ups and and downs. I have had several more knee surgeries. I have been up to 162 pounds (the most I’ve ever weighed). I’ve dropped back down to 143 pounds (current weight). The only time I’ve ever had a positive body image, though, was when I weighed 122 pounds in August 2007. Since then, in my eyes, I’ve had a weight problem.
I haven’t gone to any extremes in order to “deal” with this. I’m not anorexic. I’m not bulimic. I have actually tackled the “problem” in a very healthy way. For a while, I was going to the gym daily. I was counting calories. I was making progress.
Then the insomnia got in the way. I ran out of adequate treatment options. My total sleep time dropped to 2-4 hours per night, in less than 1-hour increments. My energy level plummeted. I stopped going to the gym; I just couldn’t bring myself to get up at 4:10 a.m. anymore.
I’ve had spurts of energy and times when exercise has been easier than others, but nothing has lasted. I haven’t consistently been able to maintain an exercise routine. For me, that’s the big thing. I can easily keep my diet under control. It’s the activity that is lacking. I hate that I can’t sleep like a “normal” person. I hate that I have limitations: no running, jumping, squatting, lunging, twisting, pivoting, or kneeling.
Above all, I hate that I can’t achieve that body that I want. I hate that I can’t achieve the body that I used to have. I hate that I can’t achieve that body that other people think is “good enough.”