The first time a doctor told me I needed to lose weight was when I was 12. I was 5 foot 4 inches and weighed a whopping 120 lbs. Which is pretty much what you're supposed to weigh when you're 5' 4" tall. A little less or a little more, but I was definitely in the general area. I had boobs and hips and I'd already begun to hate them. If I didn't have THESE nobody would bother me. At the age of 14, I was put on an extra cardio routine to meet my rec coaches' expectations of a gymnast's proper body type. I wasn't even a competitive gymnast. I went to the gym twice a week, my big trick was a back walkover on the balance beam.
In my late teens and early 20s, I wouldn't ever rest my full weight on someone's lap, believing that my considerable heft would cut off their circulation. I was too round, too fleshy. I look back at pictures from my early 20s and I was neither. I looked healthy. Yeah, I had curves, (see boobs and hips from above), but I was by no means fat. And yet, at that time, even without a full-on eating disorder, I didn't see my body as something healthy or attractive.
I didn't dip my toes into bulimia until my mid 20s. I wasn't a card-carrying member - I was more the binge until I felt sick and then throw up to get rid of the nausea kind of bulimic. Probably only happened about a dozen times, she types dismissively. But it still happened. Because I despaired when saw my armpit pudge or my inner thigh fat.
Many women spend much of their early lives (pretty much until they partner up) worried about how they look. The mating dance is very important. We buff, we preen, we diet - usually to attract a mate. (Rarely, in my youth, was I the focus of my efforts. I am wearing this to look good for me. I am becoming healthy for me. It takes a loooooong time before women do things for ourselves. Some women never do it. We tend to be so blind to our own wants and needs and even physical appearance that we never emerge from our personal cocoon and spread our wings for ourselves.)
I hate to say it, but most women are all about snagging the mate. We are, after all, still mammals, even if our 'higher minded' intellect would prefer not to recognize it. When I was younger, EVERY SINGLE SPRING my body wanted to meet the biological imperative of mating. Really a lot. A whole bunch. And then when I was on the cusp of peri-menopause, I morphed into a 17 year old boy with a sex drive that would rival Casanova's. Gotta use ALL these eggs up before they go bad!
Even though society is shifting, that marital urgency is still present. We'd love to think that we in North America have moved beyond that - but 'partnering up' is still a big freaking deal. But what happens after you've snagged that mate? What happens when most of your life has been spent wanting to be seen as attractive to potential partners, what happens after that? Do you just wake up one morning and not worry about it? For that first year after Rissa was born - I was not a sexual being. I was revelling in motherhood. I really didn't care. I was too exhausted to care. It's only now, when I look at photographic and video evidence of that year that I find myself completely horrified. What had happened to me? Why was I dressed in sweat pants and baggy shirts? Did I have no clue that dressing in larger clothes to camouflage baby weight just doesn't work? I hated myself for caring. My psyche probably should have shifted - except it hadn't. Because I'd been conditioned for almost 2 decades to worry about how I looked. And apparently you can just let that shit go or at least I couldn't.
And even though now, at the age of 45, I'm probably the most fit that I've ever been, I still worry about the extra 20 lbs that I should lose to be at my 'healthy' weight. I look at my boobs in the mirror - noticing that the left one is slightly lower than the right one - I do my 'mock hunchback' to make them even. My thighs, my strong and flexible thighs with their extra stores of fat at the top, would probably ensure my survival if my plane went down in the Arctic, but I don't care about that. I CARE that when I wear stockings, I have freaking huge bulgy divots in my thighs. Sadly, it appears that I haven't evolved. Society doesn't tell us how to evolve from sex object to madonna. In the new millennium, youth is where it's at. You're not allowed to look 40 when you're 40. You're not allowed to have lines on your face - smile lines are crow's feet. Now you have to be a MILF - you have to be vital and sexy and desirable. WHY?!? My Mom didn't have to be a MILF. Until last weekend, she didn't even know what a MILF was. Thing was, my Mom still got dressed up, made an effort, was still sexy without even really working at it. Why did it seem so difficult for me to do the same thing?
33 years. From the age of 12 until now. I have spent 33 years worried about how I look. I have focused on what is deemed attractive, to the detriment of health and emotional well being. I have been brain washed by the beauty, fashion and media industries... and by... me. I think that it's time to snap out of it. Don't you?