How am I supposed to help my children develop a healthy body image when I don't have one myself? Granted, I'm sure mine is better than some. But isn't everything relative? Even at young age, I remember sitting on the rust colored velvety pews at church and being aware that my thighs were fatter than my sister Mandy's. I also recall her wearing "slims" while mom had to buy me the "pretty plus." And I wouldn't even say I was a chubby kid. I just wasn't skinny.
Moving on to middle school, I "blossomed" terrifyingly early at the ripe old age of 11. It was like I woke up one day in 5th or 6th grade and needed a bra. I skipped right past the training bras. Despite how traumatic this was at the time, I can't remember the precise year. Yet, I was very aware that there were only one or two other girls like me who needed to wear a bra. The others were blissfully unaware. I read the Judy Blume books about girls wanting breasts and thought they were crazy. I wore baggy shirts until 7th grade when I either came to terms with my body or was just distracted by other things...like boys.
By high school, I had come to terms with my body but definitely would've liked to have been about 3 inches taller and 20 pounds lighter. This amuses my 32 year old self since I know what my weight/measurements were back then. We got fitted for color guard uniforms my freshman year and I still have the piece of paper they wrote my measurements on: 34 - 23 - 35. Despite weighing 110, I never wore anything smaller than a size 6. I've never understood how some people could wear smaller sizes than me - even now. I always wonder, "where on earth do they shop that they can fit into (pick your size)." Now, I just ignore it. It is what it is. I don't care what size my clothes are, I just want them to make me look halfway decent - preferably 3 inches taller and 20 pounds lighter (or 40!).
I was just coming to terms with my body type and happy with it when I started driving a desk for a living in my mid-20's and started gaining weight. I'm not blind. I've seen my relatives and know what's hiding for me in my genes. I started exercising and eating better. It was a slow process but I was making progress. Then I had knee surgery followed by TWINS. Although I'm VERY close to my pre-pregnancy weight, the abdominal separation I have now frustrates me. And somehow my butt has disappeared. Oh, and I don't like my flabby arms. And last but not least, I'd still like to be 3 inches taller and 20 pounds lighter (or 40!). Yes, I know what I need to do to make this happen. Yes, I realize I just need to make it a priority. At least now, I'm smart enough to focus on loving my body as it is and being thankful that I'm healthy and that my body functions like it's supposed to (with the exception of an unhappy left knee and some minor foot pain - pregnancy does a number on your body). I just hope I can help my children learn that long before the age of 32.
I could go into the affects of the media on body image but that's a topic for another day!