#MyBodyStory is a weekly series of reader submitted pieces about what it’s like to live in your body.
If you have a story to share, please email : [email protected]
Remember, every body has a story.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in #MyBodyStory articles are the writer’s own.
And now, without further ado,
Here is Jackie’s story.
I’ve loved my body for the past 30 years.
And if we’re counting, that’s all my life.
I’ve loved my body for its perfections and its imperfections. I’ve cherished its scars (my “battle wounds” as I’ve affectionately termed them), and I’ve embraced its freckles. I’ve celebrated its curves, and I’m not ashamed to say that, when I look in the mirror, I like what I see staring back at me.
Let me be clear about a few things.
I’m not a size 2 (not that being a size 2 is a bad thing, but it’s certainly an unattainable and strived for ideal by many). I don’t have limbs that extend for miles. My nose isn’t pixie-like. And I’m not going to make apologies for any of it (even though society and the media would try and dictate otherwise). I’m confident in myself, not in spite of, but because I’m me, and I think that’s some pretty good skin to be in.
I hit puberty young – we’re talking nine-years-old. And as my female parts started to develop, the rest of my body was, ahem, expanding as well. But I don’t ever recall being made to feel like I was the kid who had eaten one too many McDonald’s ice cream cones after school. I knew other kids whose bodies were constantly being scrutinized – not by their peers – but behind closed doors at home. But while my body was going through some very noticeable changes, I was not ever made to feel self-conscious or overly aware of it. Interesting…But why was that?
Well, I was blessed with a mother who I never (literally, N-E-V-E-R) overheard criticizing her own body.
I’ve been informed amongst my friends that this is a rarity! And so even when I started to gain weight, I heard nary a peep of judgement from either of my parents. It not only gave me a great amount of confidence in myself (and my body), but it allowed me the freedom to take good care of it in my own time.
(pic of me and mom)
This was NOT something I gave much consideration to when I was younger. What 12-year-old lies awake at night thinking about the long-term impact her parents are having on her body image? Now, as an adult looking back in time, never having my body criticized as a child is something I acknowledge and am eternally grateful for. I also wish it was something more parents would be cognizant of, especially between mothers and daughters.
Every single time you criticize your appearance, every inch that you pinpoint and pick apart, your little girl is watching, listening, internalizing, and emulating.
And the effects are not short-term. They are profound and often lead to lifelong struggles with body image. I’ve observed this firsthand with many of my friends.
Today, I’m happy with who I am and what I look like. I’m acutely aware of the pressures that media and large corporations put on women to look and present themselves in a certain way, and I make a concerted effort all the time to “do me” despite this. There are now entire marketing campaigns (I’m looking at you, Dove) that were developed to remind women that they’re insecure, but “Hey! Purchase our beauty products and you can join the confidence train.”
It’s pretty sad that we live in a society where when a woman is content with her body and how she looks, she’s accused of having an ego and attempts are made to knock her down a few pegs. Of course, this rule of thumb generally doesn’t apply to women who meet the traditional standards of beauty. As soon as the “flaws” are exposed, however, everyone’s a critic.
Well. Fuck that.
I think it’s high time we took our bodies back and reveled in all they do for us.
Trying to keep up with someone else’s definition of beauty is exhausting…and, quite frankly, pretty useless. Because the definitions of beauty are endless.
Instead, I’ll continue to exert my energy in ways that are far more meaningful than only skin deep.