Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Body Image at 36 and 16....

I cannot tell you what I thought about my body and my self-image back when I was 16. Heck, I am 36 now (soon to be 37) and I probably couldn’t tell you honestly what I thought about myself for most of my life.

I am sure I had periods where I hated my appearance and I am sure I have had periods where I was comfortable, even loved how I looked. But as a teenager…I am not sure what I felt.

I probably felt what most teenagers seem to feel- wanting a smaller waist or bigger breasts. Boys to like me. A date for the dance. To be on the homecoming court/cheerleading squad/captain of the debate etc. – you get my point.

I write, every now and again, about body image. About health at every size and continuing to live a happy, healthy, active life not dictated by the scale. I talk openly about how much the topic of body image can drive me into a frenzy. Either because of how hurtful people can be or because of how body focused we have become, even when trying to not be.

I like to think I am at a healthy place with my body. I like how I look (most of the time, I mean come on- I am still a human) and I try to not let my outward appearances change how I feel about myself as I also try to not let other people’s outward appearances change/skew/determine how I feel about them. I mean, yeah it is so easy to make assumptions by looking at someone. But how often are we wrong when doing so? I have no numbers here but I can tell you that most of the times I have done that my assumptions have been wrong. And what did it ever get me – a whole lot of nothing good. So I try to stop. I try to treat everyone with kindness and respect and to be open.

I am thirty-six (soon to be thirty-seven) and it has taken me a long time to get comfortable in my own skin. It is something I am proud of and I want everyone to feel this same way, it’s liberating.

That’s me now, and it took me a long time to get here.

And then there is Ally….Ally Del Monte AKA losergurl. She is 16 years old and she is my role model. Funny, I know. She’s so young but man, she has got it all figured out. She is smart and funny and beautiful and has the biggest heart. I love her writing, her perspective. But more than anything I have so much respect for her bravery. She puts her life out there, in the open for the world to see, and she doesn’t sugar coat the harsh realities of what life is like as an overweight teenager. I read this piece she wrote on the Huffington Post (originally from her blog) and I was just floored by how authentic her voice is and just how absolutely amazing it is to see someone just 16 years old really understand the truth and impacts of body image and how societal beliefs/norms can make just about anyone feel substandard.

It is such a great piece and I would love for you all to check it out. Either at the HuffPo or Ally’s blog.

Thank you Ally, even though you don’t know me (and will probably never see this), for being the epitome of courage, self-love, kindness and compassion…at just 16 years of age.

Love and hugs-