Full Life Reflections

Striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment in a chaotic world

Last month, I wrote about my ongoing challenge with negative body image and shared some helpful tips on this subject from my online friends. Since I received so much helpful advice for improving a poor body concept and didn’t want the post to get too long, I decided to break it into two installments. Today’s …

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I recently found a journal entry I made following an interesting shopping experience I had back in 2004. I titled my journal entry “Perspective.” I am sharing what I wrote six years ago because I feel it is timeless and highly relevant to the “body image rehab” process. I have modified the original text slightly for the sake of clarity. I also removed references to specific sizes, as that information may be “triggering” to some people and is not really pertinent to the overall message.

I was in a department store buying clothes the other day. While waiting in line to pay, I overheard a conversation a lot of new clothes and told the saleswoman it was because she had recently lost quite a bit of weight. I noticed that the clothes she was buying were all several sizes larger than my current size; a size which I feel is unacceptable. I also noted that this woman was approximately six inches shorter than me. While I would have been horrified to be purchasing those larger sizes at my height, this woman was absolutely thrilled to be wearing that same size.

It struck me at that moment that it is all about perspective. I hate wearing my current size now because I used to wear two sizes smaller (or even four or five sizes smaller during my anorexic years). In contrast, the woman in front of me loved the fact that she was buying her current size because she used to wear a much larger size. What disgusts me thrills her. Interesting how perspective affects how we feel about our size – and ourselves.

Are you stuck in an image rut? Is there some aspect of your appearance that you would never consider changing? Do you think there is one thing about your looks which makes you special?

I recently watched an episode of the modeling competition show, “She’s Got the Look,” which brought the above questions to the forefront of my mind. For those who aren’t familiar with this show, it’s similar to “America’s Next Top Model,” but geared toward women ages 35 and older. The winner of the show is awarded a spread in Self Magazine and a contract with Wilhemina Models.

On the second episode of this season’s show, the contestants were all given makeovers at a top hair salon. One of the models, Jocelyn, refused to have her long hair cut in the manner that was suggested. After some provocation, she agreed to have a few inches cut off and some layers added to her hair. Her naturally curly hair was styled straight after the cut, as was done with the other curly-haired contestants.

Not only was Jocelyn extremely reluctant to alter her look, she was highly dissatisfied with the results of her makeover. Although what I saw was a beautiful woman with either curly or straight hair, Jocelyn regarded her “after” look as unattractive. While looking into the mirror, she tearfully declared, “I used to feel beautiful and now I just don’t.”

For as long as I can remember, there has been at least one part of my body which I have found completely unacceptable. This hated body part hasn’t always been the same, but I can’t remember a time when I was not obsessing about some aspect of my body. It is extremely difficult for me to inhabit my body and not be roiling against some part of it. I do not feel fully comfortable in my own skin and this leads me to feel hopeless and despondent at times.

I can remember hating my hips, calves, tummy, butt, nose, and hair at different times over the years. While I am still not thrilled with any of those parts, I no longer obsess over them. At the present time (and for a number of years now), my most hated body part is my thighs. I don’t think a day goes by when I don’t find myself cursing the size of my legs, wishing they could miraculously be smaller, and trying to find a way to camouflage what I consider to be their tremendous girth.

I love clothes… and I hate clothes. Whether I love or hate clothes at any given point in time is very closely aligned with my body image.

If I’m feeling okay (I almost wrote “good,” but sadly “okay” is about as good as it gets for me…) about my body, I embrace the clothes in my closet and the process of shopping for new clothes. Conversely, if I am feeling fat and unattractive, I don’t even want to wear anything besides the workout clothes I wear when working from home each day.
Searching for a Feeling

I have a closet full of clothes, yet I generally only wear a small fraction of them. I have a tendency to be a compulsive shopper (see my post titled “Overspending” in my sister blog, “The Healing Project”) and I’ve come to decipher the reasons why I shop for articles of clothing I don’t even need. I’ve learned that I’m searching more for a feeling than for a pair of pants or a blouse. Subconsciously, I believe that if I can find the “right” pair of pants, I will magically be able to relax and stop hating my thighs so much.