For me, the most difficult battles I fight are the ones that surface every day. That’s why even though I’ve written about body image before, I’m writing about it again.
I’m going to tell a story, one that is very difficult for me to share because it requires honesty and vulnerability.
The other day after Mass, the priest asked me as I was leaving if I had any “family news.” I didn’t really know what to say, so I began to tell him about my grandmother who had recently been ill but has been doing much better. I had misunderstood. He had meant to inquire whether my husband and I were expecting a baby, because he noticed the way my dress was falling. I was humiliated (as was he) and I quickly rushed out the door, saying, no I was not pregnant.
To be completely honest, I went home and cried, bawled, wailed all afternoon. I kept crying when my husband came home and tried to console me. I felt so very insulted. I also reasoned that I must look chubby enough for him to have made that assumption. I just felt so awkward. There was a little self-loathing involved. I wouldn’t listen to reason.
Looking back, at a little distance, I now see the reason in what my husband said. He tried to explain that, 1) we’re a young, newlywed couple, 2) many maternity dresses have an empire waist, as did the dress I was wearing that day, and 3) I’m beautiful and I don’t look pregnant.
On the average day, I appreciate my body. I have to live inside it, right? I can’t do much of anything without it. More and more, I’m even able to find the beauty in my body, in myself, day to day.
But, it was so easy to let that misunderstanding play inside my head, digging its claws into my self-image and drawing blood…or in this case, many tears. What’s not easy is letting go of what other people say, even when the “insult” is not intentional. The priest didn’t say, “Laura, you look a bit pudgy around the middle, are you having a baby?” He never commented on my body, but my own insecurities interpreted it that way.
Accepting my body is not always easy. I haven’t like the shape of my stomach, my truncated trunk, but I am trying to accept it. Even when I was at the lowest end of my healthy weight range, when I strictly monitored everything I ate, that feature was always there. It doesn’t make me chubby, ugly, or beautiful. It is just one part of my physical being.
Every day, I have to recommit to loving myself for who I am, easy or not. Over time, the more I remind myself that my whole being is beautiful, it becomes easier.
What really pushed me to write this post was a TEDx talk I listened to by Gala Darling about radical self love. If you have 15 minutes to spare, and you do, I recommend watching this video, even if you already do love yourself.