I was looking through old pictures the other night and found this one. I’m five years old in this picture, it’s one of my favorites. I remember that I got the poster behind me in school for knowing how many noses people have. It was the only contest I ever won. In my left hand I’m holding my prized possession, my Wonder Woman doll.
In this picture I am still young and innocent. My parents divorced that year, and I no longer had a father in my life. By fifth grade my body started developing and I got my first bra. I began to gain weight and started feeling uncomfortable. I was slightly overweight for most of my adolescence. Boys commented on my thighs and backside from an early age and I had a lot of inappropriate comments. Looking back now, I realize that some of it was meant to be compliments. A small waist and big butt wasn’t the ideal back then and I internalized those comments and felt defined by my shape for a very long time. If I grew up now, when a shapelier figure is more desirable, thanks to Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé, who knows, maybe I would have had a different feeling about my body.
It wasn’t until I got much older that I understood that many of those comments by boys and men were supposedly appreciating my body. Even if they were, many were just so inappropriate and they left me with scars. I felt embarrassed and ashamed. For years, I wore long shirts to cover myself. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized I was actually making myself look bigger than I was.
I’m better at accepting myself now after all these years but I’m still a work in progress. There are times when I have to remind myself that I am not defined by my body and that my size and shape doesn’t determine my worth.
Looking back at this picture I see how free I was before I was aware of how society views women and their bodies and judges us by them. Some days I am kinder to myself, but I am striving every day to be as loving to myself as I am to others I care about.
Do you remember when you started to feel uncomfortable in your body? Did someone make a comment that started to make you see yourself differently?
I read this affirmation a long time ago and it’s stuck with me. I sometimes still say it to myself in the shower. I’m not into writing about G-d so replace that word if you need to.
I am not my body, I am free, I am as G-d created me.
There is so much more to us than our bodies!