#MyBodyStory is a series of reader submitted pieces about what it’s like to live in your body. Because every body has a story, and every story deserves to be heard.
Do you have a #MyBodyStory to share? Send it to [email protected]
And now, here is Caroline’s Body Story:
The opinions expressed in #MyBodyStory are the writer’s own.
Feb 13, 2018
Today I really had to listen to my body, and my body simply needs different things the third week of the month than it does the other weeks. So, I was eating a bag of chips to help answer the need (I needed the salt. It was required) and I started to think about something. For a product that is mostly marketed to women, do any diets allow for cravings, bloating, constipation, etc. that come every month, or do they simply expect bodies to be the exact same every day? How much sense does it make to treat people like cookie cutters? They don’t take it into account because they can’t handle variation, but, there’s the rub…we are all different. Your stresses and needs are different than other people’s, and your body knows that. We need to quit beating our bodies up for simply being a friend who’s being honest with us.
March 7, 2018
So today at the gym I took the obligatory comparison picture to see my progress so far, and I noticed something. My brain still hasn’t adjusted to what progress looks like. These pictures are two months apart; beginning of January and today.
When I first looked at them, I simply saw that I’d grown wider, and my brain told me I looked thinner in the first picture. It took longer than I want to admit before I actually saw some of the pretty significant changes in me. And I realized just how difficult and intentional this mind shift was going to be. Not only was I going to have to understand that I can’t look at progress the same way I did when my Testosterone flowed freely…but I’m also going through puberty!
For anyone dealing with the stresses right now of going through puberty and trying to learn to love your body as it changes, I stand and applaud you. It’s not easy…at all.
On top of dealing with that myself, I’m dealing with ditching a very male idea of weight loss and progress. I’m trying to unlearn the toxic idea that smaller is healthier or prettier. I love my body the way it is now (as evidenced by the much bigger smile, LOL!) and honestly, I workout to fit the regulations for the Army.
But I can see curves starting to form, I can see happiness, and I can see me. I hope that all of you will learn to find those features within yourself as well.
If you take selfies to boost esteem, or worse, to monitor workout progress (worse because there are SO MANY VARIABLES! Is it the same light, am I in the same spot, how was I holding the camera, did I do my hair the same, etc.), then remember to look beyond those traditional areas and see the whole picture. Don’t focus on the metrics some person on a video might tell you matters…look at the beautiful person in the pic. Look at your smile, check out how tall you are standing, look at the confidence you exude. Start to fall in love with the WHOLE picture of you…like we all did with the pull-outs from the teen magazines when we were kids. Lol.
March 9, 2018
Dear Apple…I want to talk to you about your move badge to honor International Women’s Day today. Whose idea was it to have the challenge for today be “burn twice as many calories as you needed to burn”?
Empowering? Not necessarily for a woman trying to overcome an eating disorder, or a woman trying to escape diet culture, or a woman trying to stop obsessing over calories. Maybe next time think it through and ask whether these ideas are empowering at all.
March 13, 2018
Relearning and accepting shape is so much harder than it should be. I was so excited to wear this shirt again today. I hadn’t worn it since July 4th, last summer, and I couldn’t wait to see how different it looked. I almost died when I saw the difference. For a split second, I was happy and amazed, but then, that voice started nagging again telling me how much skinnier I used to be. It pointed to my rounder face as proof that I was now fatter. I argued that I had gained no weight, and it countered that I had lost natural muscle.
All the excitement drained as I examined, and listened, and finally, agreed. I have to imagine the thoughts going through my head are similar to those going through the head of my 12 year old daughter as she also watches her shape change. She also sees herself rounding in ways that she wasn’t before. She eats less now and my wife and I are sure it’s got something to do with that. What is happening to us is what is supposed to happen though. It’s what our bodies do as they go through puberty (1st or 2nd…it doesn’t matter), but, that transition period is rarely mentioned in the media.
For years we have watched “teen” shows where the characters are rarely teens. This has screwed up what this beautiful point of metamorphosis should look like. We see people that should be going through puberty…but, the actress is usually either already on the later end of teen years, or well past them (the entire Mean Girls cast).
So, I implore you my siblings…remember just how skewed the images you see on television and in magazines are. Remember that beauty being in the eye of the beholder does not mean it’s how someone else judges you, or how you should see yourself in the mirror…it’s how you see yourself from the inside out.
Each one of you is so gorgeous and no “beauty standard” can truly capture the unique aspects that make each woman shine. Join me in trying to remember that we are all changing. Our bodies bloat and crave. Gravity makes adjustments. Pregnancy alters everything about you. The sleepless nights that follow the birth do too.
But, change is not necessarily bad. There is an inherent, untouchable, undefinable beauty to simply being a woman, even with the daily alterations it brings. May we all come to see that, embrace it, and reflect it so that the world might be changed by the sight of the strong, beautiful, unique women we are.
March 13, 2018
If you need picture proof that the numbers on the scale matter very little…look no further than this picture. The picture on the left was January 11th and I weighed less than I do in the pic on the right. I post this simply to say that too often we judge ourselves and are judged by others because of the numbers on a scale. But the numbers don’t mean anything.
Our doctors tell us our BMI is high or low. Magazines tell us about losing weight. Everything tells us to respect that number, but, my wonderful sisters, I say…screw the number.
Fall in love with the woman in the mirror. Your weight is a mathematical equation measuring the pull of gravity upon you. The only thing it truly tells you is that gravity is working and the Earth is still spinning. Don’t let it determine your worth and don’t let changing it control your life.
Be happy and love you. It might sound selfish but, be in love with you. Do what you must to make yourself feel like the strong, confident, beautiful woman you are. And, know there’s not a number in existence that can measure everything that really matters about you.
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