When you’ve been conditioned all your life to believe that you’re not skinny enough, you need to eat less, no junk food, or you’re reminded that your thighs got bigger every time you visited your parents…it can really take a toll on your self esteem.
I have a separate private insta account that I use to follow women (and men) in the health and fitness industry, as well as normal people who use their accounts to inspire others. These people, women in particular, post content that remind their followers about their fitness journey and the fact that they go through bouts of body dysmorphia too.
In my main Instagram account, I haven’t really seen or read anything from the people I know that they have any body issues. I think it helps to know that someone whose face you’re familiar with, someone you’ve talked to, someone you’re close with, might be sharing the same internal struggles.
So here’s my story. I’m holding nothing back and if you get to the very end, I thank you for reading!
I started feeling self-conscious about my thighs in 6th grade. I remember sitting in those plastic hard chairs, and wearing these brown track pants / sweat pants that could pass off as school appropriate. I noticed that when I relaxed my legs, my thighs expanded across the entire chair and even spilled over the sides. All the shirts I owned were loose and long enough to cover my butt and where my thigh gap should have been.
My best friend in my early years of high school had, what I thought, a great body. She was prettier and skinnier than me. It didn’t help that my parents compared me to her in every way possible, especially in academics and in my general behavior. She once told me that I just needed to eat healthier and exercise more – and she wasn’t wrong. I lived a pretty stagnant lifestyle at that time.
I got into my first relationship with someone who was very fit and valued looks. I began being even more self-conscious around someone who was able to influence my thoughts and emotions so easily.
My fashion style got better, I began perming my hair every 1-2 years, dressing for my body shape (pear), and exercising regularly. I dreaded the freshman 15 and was able to avoid it altogether because I watched what I ate. Then one summer, I began counting calories religiously and did tons of cardio. I lost weight but was still nit-picking my body apart. I would step on the scale 3x a day just to see if I went down half a pound in the span of a couple hours. I finally looked how I wanted to a year previously but that didn’t stop me from depriving my body of the calories and nutrients it needed. I plateaued and then my weight began to yo-yo back. Over the course of 3 years, I gained back 2-3x more than what I lost and my weight continued to fluctuate.
I had broken up with the boyfriend, but I never stopped worrying about my body, even if the guys I dated afterwards didn’t care. Several, though, told me that they were emotionally attracted to me but not physically. I was conditioned to think that all men wanted women who were slim and fit. Since I knew what my body could (and had) become, I worried excessively about getting back to “my prime.”
I made a fat-shaming comment at work without realizing it. I meant it jokingly since people were teasing my Whole30 attempt, but it was fat-shaming nonetheless. I began working out more consistently and eating healthier and I began noticing the pounds drop bit by bit. I stopped caring too much what the number on the scale was and went by how clothes felt and my muscle definition. I preferred to measure my goals by body fat percentage rather than weight loss.
I still get discouraged all the time and frustrated with myself at my lack of significant change in body composition. I can’t watch a movie without comparing myself to the lead actress’s slim figure. I can’t eat dessert without feeling some sort of guilt, even though from the exterior it was my idea to get dessert. If I pass by a mirror, I always to check to see if I look fit, even just for a couple seconds.
Just last week, I made a comment about a girl’s body size, intending it to be sincere, but my roommate pointed out how messed up that was and that I was already showing prejudice.
Now looking back on what environment I grew up in, I’m almost surprised I was never bulimic or anorexic. I can only imagine what it’s like for people who do suffer from those conditions.
A few nights ago, I was lying awake, hating my body and being so so frustrated with how infrequently I’ve been working out recently. I have plenty of at-home workouts I could do but I just don’t feel like it. I used to work out in the mornings at my old job, which I could come in at 10am. I felt better throughout the day knowing I got my workout in. Now my hours are earlier and I’m finding it hard to wake up before a certain time to go to the gym, regardless of how early I sleep. And I’m always so tired after work and don’t feel like working out.
There are specific things about myself that bother me, not just my overall look. I’m not sure I want to post pictures lol, but here they are:
- Straight hair. I used to have straight hair up until college when I started getting curly perms, and now my hair is probably one of the few things I pride myself in.
- Uneven eyelids. My right eye has a defined eyelid but my left doesn’t so in pictures, one eye looks bigger than the other.
- Wide hips. So hard to fit into jeans since my waist is too slim for pants that fit the hips and thighs.
- Short pinkie toe nail bed and the nails just stick straight up so I have to keep them short. No pedicures for me.
- Thunder thighs. I naturally have a thigh gap (some women don’t) but my inner thighs have fat on them so that they touch. At my peak physique, I had great thighs.
- Weird hairline. I got this one from my dad and we’re both bald in some areas.
- Chubby cheeks and round face structure. I dislike taking selfies for these reasons.
- Lack of eyebrows. I fixed this with microblading recently but it was a significant image issue prior to that.
Here’s a portrait of myself so you can see my facial structure and previous lack of eyebrows.
And my biggest insecurity, the thing that I can’t stand the most and was hardest to accept:
- My wide calves. The bone structure makes it so that my calves start protruding very close to my ankles so it seems a lot wider. I also just hold more fat there as well. I can hide a tummy and thunder thighs. But calves will be seen with leggings, jeans, shorts, etc. The only way to cover them up is to wear long skirts.
How do I deal with my body image issues?
If it’s about a particular body part, I tend to forget until I see a picture of me or look into the mirror. I’ve almost trained myself not to go around looking for mirrors.
What I’m doing is moping and whining about the things I don’t like physically, when I could be channeling those negative feelings to motivate myself to be healthier and more active. I’m still working on that and it’s always going to be an uphill battle. I didn’t want to dive too deeply into anything since this post is already too long, but I hope that this makes any girl out there feel just a bit better that she isn’t going through these struggles alone.
If you read this whole post, ilysm and I want to know who you are so please comment or drop me a DM 🙂