Monday, September 21, 2015

A word on body image

I somehow missed the self-conscious train in life.

I don't know where I was the day they handed out tickets -- perhaps I was sick and stayed home from school, playing Mario Bros. in the basement.

That's one theory.

I also blame my father a little bit. He doesn't give a rip roarin' you-know-what about what people think of him. It is for this that he has been able to enjoy dancing in public, being silly and generally loud. And thanks to genetics and that phenomenon of following our parents' actions, I have been able to enjoy such activities myself.

And while we're playing the blame game, I'll go ahead and blame genetics for my body's build.

My mom was always pretty slender, as are my dad's sisters. I come from a lean people.

Thus I've always been a bit of a thin lass myself.

That is, except for a few occasions in my life.

One was when I first came to hang out in this world, with some good ol' toddler thunder thighs.

Actual legs pictured here, circa 1986.

The second occasion was after I studied abroad in college. Ironically, people predicted I would lose weight during my international excursions, thinking the food in the foreign lands would be unappetizing.


We had two women who cooked for us, who had this terrible wonderful habit of baking us fresh bread, that was served STILL WARM. So you can bet your bottom dollar I cut myself inch-thick slabs of that stuff and slathered it with butter. And gurrrrl was it worth it.

One of my lifelong besties Samantha and I did a little show and tell at one point with our clothes. We held up certain pants and shorts that no longer fit us as the semester rolled forward, and took to wearing elastic band skirts that we bought to fit our new bodily needs.

The people in my life were gracious enough not to say anything about my weight gain upon my return -- instead they focused on my new almost-tan skin -- but waited until years later to look back and poke fun at me, after I had lost the weight.

Which brings us to today.

For the first time in my life -- minus the chubby baby legs period and post-study abroad season -- I am pretty uncomfortable with my body.

It feels so weird to type that, to make this a topic of focus on my blog.

It's so un-me.

It's so un-me, because this whole body self-consciousness is essentially brand new to me.

I mean I'm not immune to it, of course. I remember a time in high school when I gave up television for Lent, then turned the TV back on after 40 days and realized just how jaded my view of a normal body had become. The fast from seeing skinny minis all over my screen was a real wake up call for me, showing me just how realistic my "reality" had been as a teenager who thought she had great body image.

But aside from my Lenten learnings, for the most part I've had a very smooth ride in terms of confidence in general and happiness with my body type. Very smooth compared to most among my gender.

So I almost feel like a hypocrite -- for lack of a better word -- writing this. I guess a better way to describe it is I feel like I'm trying to join some club that everyone else has already been in for their entire adolescent and adult lives and I'm trying to budge my way in, long after dues have been collected and duties assigned.

But enough about me being embarrassingly late to the Insecure Meeting. Let me just tell you how I'm feeling of late.

For starters, let's take a look at this picture that was taken of me last month:

I feel like I look just fine, right?

But I can see the extra cush in my face, and all I can think about lately is my stomach.

It has some extra padding these days. Oh boy, does it have some extra padding.

And it's somewhat inexplicable to me. Not entirely, but somewhat.

I have had an uptick of beer intake since I moved in with a girl who loves beer just as much as me. We like to bond after work with a couple of cold ones.

I've eaten a fair amount of burritos this year.

But I've also completed a half marathon this year. I've spent a lot of time on cardio machines in the gym. I've eaten salads for lunch two to three times a week for most of the last several months.

So what's the deal? Is it just the beer? Is it my medication suddenly making me chubby? Or should I say "chubby," as this is all relative?

Regardless, I can finally understand where some women are coming from. And for the first time ever, I feel a little bit helpless. I've always been able to coast along when it came to diet and exercise, and able to make minor adjustments to correct any sudden body changes.

I've enjoyed exercise for a long time. I like the taste of vegetables.

I also like the taste of pizza, but I don't mind a nice helping of lima beans now and again.

I used to be able to make minor tweaks in my life and get back to the body I was happy with. This isn't proving to be true these days.

I'm annoyed that I can't prance around in my bikini anymore. My pants are tight. My girly fit tops seem to just grab my stomach.

And it just makes me go: Harrumph.

I don't know where I'm going with all this. Maybe just venting. Maybe apologizing for years of not getting what my fellow womanhood has so agonizingly suffered through without me. Maybe trying to be real, saying I'm finally there with you.

It's occurred to me, in recent months as I've begun to contemplate all this, that the times I've been really thin -- of a thinness that I quite enjoyed, and did much bikini prancing about -- were perhaps times when I was unhealthy.

The most recent time I can remember was when I was unemployed two years ago. During that time, I was being extremely conservative with my money, and to be honest, I was hungry quite a bit. I also was running a lot to fill my otherwise empty, monotonous schedule.

A time before that was when I worked at Starbucks. I worked eight hour shifts on my feet each morning, consuming nothing more than a pastry, coffee, and a small McDonald's sandwich during my breaks, and I was running 4-6 miles each day after work.

Then I went to graduate school where, again, I was very short on cash, and very busy, thus not scheduling in a lot of regular eating.

During none of these times do I think I had an eating disorder, but I probably wasn't eating enough. So I'm not sure it was all that great that I was so small.

So where do we go from here?

1. I'm going to the gym after work today. I love the gym, and working out, pumping some iron. So I might as well capitalize on that. I'm not going to train for any particular goal, but rather I'm just going to go and sweat for the enjoyment of it. I'm going to try and recapture that joy I once knew of zoning out on a cardio machine and then doing some bad-ass ab work before I lift weights.

2. I'm going to ask my doctor about side effects of prescription medications, and take it from there.

3. I'm going to try and cool it on the beer and burritos. Oh, the delicious delicious burritos.

4. I'm going to possibly have a new solidarity with my fellow sisterhood of women, being more sensitive to a crowd that I have for many years grieved, due to the worry of so many whom I think are just downright beautiful, curves or no.

5. I'm going to be grateful for my health. My bikini bod may not be on point, but as they say: How to get a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. I walked/jogged a half marathon three months ago, for crying out loud. I am able to lift, walk, run, swim, laugh, rest, stretch, love. And that's huge.

Bikini body in an earlier time.

What else is huge is my love for the people who doubt their beauty. Trust me, what I see is gorgeous.

All the love, with a few extra curves these days,
Daily Bailey

1 comment:

  1. You've been a member of the Sisterhood of Women your whole life, body woes or not :)