When you look at your body, what do you see?
I have hated my body almost all of my life.
Today, looking back, I see that I was (more than a little bit) nuts for feeling that way.
Seriously. Just look.
This was my 16 year old self, and in this picture I was one hundred fifty bajillion percent convinced that I was disgustingly fat.
I wasn’t starving much, at the time of this picture. That’s me with my AAU basketball team, and we were competing in the AAU National Championship in Utah. I had to eat to keep up with those ladies. I was in pretty peak condition, playing two games a week and practicing all the time, but still.
I ate, and so I felt fat.
The Body Image Project has changed a lot about how I see myself. I have broken my parts down, taken my body apart and examined it piece by piece, then put it back together. It has been hard.
As I considered wrapping up this project, it made sense to me that the conclusion of the project should be something total. A sum of the parts. A final tribute to what I’ve worked for, to body acceptance in and of itself.
“I know, write a post about your body as a whole, and why you like it.”
And you know what?
My response was, “Oh yeah, good idea.”
…boy. If I wasn’t sure before whether or not the project changed me, that solidified it.
To give you an example of how much I’ve changed, take a look at this group of photos.
At the time of the last photo, July 2014, I felt fat. I felt better, because I had worked hard to lose a bit of weight, and because the weight I lost was lost in the right way, but still. I felt fat.
The victory in that last image was not the size of the pants I wore or the number on the scale, but the way I got those things. I did not starve for that last picture. I had not purged for that last picture. I ate about 1800 calories a day for six weeks straight, and for an ana-mia that is a huge fucking deal. The victory in that picture was not the size, but how I got to the size.
STILL. I felt fat.
No victory in the world exists big enough to erase that feeling.
As I assembled those photos to display my progress, I wanted to hide the third and forth images. I did not want to share them. I did not want to SHOW them. I wanted those pictures to disappear, because I wanted that version of myself to disappear.
At the time I assembled that photo collage, I hated the fat versions of myself.
I honestly do not give even one rat’s ass about the way I look, in ANY of those photos.
Before, when I looked at those photos, I saw flaws. JUST flaws.
First picture? Lack of abs. Lame. No kids yet, still no six pack.
Second picture, “back of arm roll.” Yes, pregnant, but arm roll? Unless you’re carrying the baby in your armpit, there should be no arm roll.
Third picture. “Oh, I didn’t know they made prison stripes in size “elephant.” Good to know.”
Forth picture, holy hell. A bikini? You’re 37. And huge. Just no.
And the fifth picture, “Better, but how about sucking in that lower pooch? Why didn’t your diet get rid of that, too?”
When I look at my entire self, I see ability. And power. I see a body that takes me where I want to go, no matter what I ask of it. I see a body that grew human beings and fed them for two years each. I see arms that old, hands that heal and sooth, legs that carry me through. I do not see age. I do not see weight. I do not see physical flaws or potential perfection, error or accomplishment.
When I look at my body, I see ME.
Character. Quality. Strength. Love. Hope. Life.
When you look at you, what do you see?
At the start of The Body Image Project, I suggested to you that you engage in one of your own. TAKE PICTURES. Look at the pictures. See your face and body and self from the outside, resist the urge to hide and look away, then look some more.
Mostly, if you gain nothing else from reading about this project, please remember the one thing I failed to realize for most of my life…
the parts of you that determine your worth are beyond measure (so if you can measure what you think is important, it isn’t important at all).
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Live every day like it’s your last one. Find yourself, own your truth, and change your whole world. Forge Depth, and never stop digging.