|How I see myself, and what the world sees,|
do not always tally.
There is a point to this statement. Honestly.
The problem is that because I have not had a very good view of my body, I am not entirely sure what it looks like; and in a strange body dysmorphia, how I see my body is not the way the world may see it.
Don’t confuse me with someone who is overly concerned about their appearance – I am not. In fact I am quite the opposite. I do not really care what I look like. This is evidenced pretty much as I type this. I am sat in a coffee-shop in a collection of muddy running clothes – some of which would not even be counted by the running community as conservative: Which as they delight in florescent, day-glo tops and jackets is saying something. I am straight from my run and I stink. I have no make-up on and my hair is a tangled mess. I am even getting stares from the people who believe tight, battered sweat pants and UGG boots are good combination.
I am not a girlie-girl and I never have been. I don’t do the beauty parlor schtick. I visit the hair-dressers once a year. I don’t own a full-length mirror and my make-up is only pulled out when I go out on a rare night out, (and I can be bothered). I live in my running kit and I don’t own closets of clothes. My most expensive item of clothing is my running kit and shoes.
You get the idea.
So, this is why I find it strange that I am coming to realize that I may have a skewed view on my body. That sub-consciously I don’t see myself clearly.
I don’t view myself as any different to any other woman. Yes, there are parts of me I would like to change; but isn’t that the same for all of us? I have a wobbly ‘mummy-tummy’. The creep of orange-peel and stretch marks on my thighs that is normal for anyone over the age of twenty-five. I am currently five-pounds heavier than I was this time last year -- and that is an improvement, I was ten pounds heavier a couple of months ago. I could wish for a high-fashion models body, but I know I am ten inches too short and have too many lumps in all the wrong places. I am okay with that; I am not after the un-attainable.
When I was fifteen I had the body of a fifteen year old – along with a fifteen-year-olds’ associated hang-ups. I had a few layers of ‘puppy-fat’; I was scrawny with a bit of extra padding. I was the last girl in my group to get a boyfriend and everyone seemed to be telling me I wasn’t attractive. I was all breasts and very little else. It seems strange that those bloody breasts have hindered how I view myself.
As I can’t view my body because of my ‘appendages’, I have no idea on how my body has changed over the years. When I compare myself to my friends –which let’s face it, we all do sub-consciously- I still use the fifteen-year-old version of myself as the model.
It has only been over the last few months -as I have been stressing about the weight I have gained since my back injury- that I have come to realize that maybe I should be using a different version of myself as a model. Trying to be a version of me that I feel I should be, is as unattainable as me being a high-fashion model; it’s impossible and unhealthy to even try.
Last year when I felt at my best, I was just shy of being classed as ‘Underweight’ by my BMI. Friends and family were commenting how I had no roundness; I was scrawny and boney. I ignored them, thinking that this was my perfect me. I was surviving on salad and I was hungry all the time, but I was eating, so what was the problem? How did I get so mentally messed up about how I looked? How did it happen without me realizing it?
When talking to friends, buying clothes, or just looking at the people around me, I have come to realize that the person I felt I wanted to be when I was fifteen is already here. I am in a good place physically and pushing for something more is dangerous. I am not the over-weight, short, adolescent girl with body-hang-ups anymore.
I am me.
I am a fit grown woman. I am slap-bang-in-the-middle of the BMI range for my height. I have a low resting heart rate. I can run three, four, five, more miles in one go. I can fit into a UK size eight trouser (US4). I am strong – or at least I am working on that. I am confident in my abilities. I know who I am and what I can do. I am a Mother, writer, and a lover. I am smart and I am silly. I can organize an international move in less than six-weeks. I can advocate with authority for an Autistic boy. When I go into a room of strangers, I can articulate my views and people will listen.
I am everything my fifteen-year-old self would have wanted – and more. I am a confident woman and losing those extra five-pounds would diminish that woman in more ways than one. Maybe I should bury my fifteen-year-old self into the ground -along with those fifteen-year-olds hang-ups- and start being the forty-year-old woman I am.