Thursday, January 22, 2009

Your body does not define you

A friend of mine said this to me once and I wrote it on a post-it and hung it up for a long time.

When you hear people interviewed on TV for some weight-loss miracle that has worked for them, they will often say, "I felt like I was trapped in this body that wasn't mine."

As we age, we all struggle with our body's limitations. "I used to be able to (fill in the blank)", I've heard so many older people say; be stronger, be faster, be on their feet for eighteen hours straight, whatever the feat may have been.

For people who were not always heavy but became heavy later in their lives--particularly women--I have heard a lot of "I used to be a size (fill in the blank)".

I feel for people who used to be thin and are not any longer. (Unless they were mean to fat people; then I hope they blow up like balloons.) I imagine it is like being extremely beautiful and losing your looks in some way. If you were never thin and beautiful in the first place, you don't really know what you lost if you get older and remain overweight. I think this makes it both easier and harder; part of me thinks the ones who used to be are fortunate they had the experience of being what society declares attractive even temporarily. I'd certainly like to know what it was like for a few days so I could enjoy it.

There have been several TV shows and movies that used the ruse of putting women in fat suits to see if they were treated differently, and of course they were, but then could shed the fat suit and be gorgeous again. In the case of Tyra Banks, she got to cry top model tears while the overweight women on her panel comforted her for her suffering. I suddenly understood why Elvis shot some of his TVs.

The relationship a woman has with her body is far more complicated than just how much it weighs, how it looks or how old it is. I have gone through periods of hating my body, trying to destroy my body, accepting my body, feeling like I don't belong in my body...I don't remember loving it or even liking it. Acceptance is as far as I've been able to get, and that took years of work that is compromised every time someone openly judges me for my appearance. My own mode of body acceptance is seriously strained at the moment; it's become a really uncomfortable place for me to live, and it feels foreign, bordering on freakish. It certainly doesn't look like who I am inside, but then, it never really has.

It is a statement of strength to assert that your body does not define you and to work on really believing it. I am so much more than my body appears to be. We all are.

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This blog focuses largely on a personal journey to and through weight-loss surgery. It's also about reading, writing, animals, photography, love, humor, music, thinking out loud, and memes. In other
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