I’ve had body image on the brain for a while now. I’m in the middle of a 6 week health challenge with some women from my church, and about halfway through a Whole33 (my take on the Whole30 program). I’m seeing changes in my body already and am encouraged and inspired and self-conscious and over-analyzing and over-thinking. You know the way I roll.
I don’t have a healthy body image. I’ve had moments of truly appreciating my body and what it can do, but those are few and far between. For the most part, I struggle no matter where I am on the scale, what my pants size, or how I feel.
In fourth grade we had a health week or month or something that required every single person in my class to step onto a doctor’s scale to be weighed. I was 88 pounds. The boy behind me was 80 pounds. He announced to everyone the tremendous difference in our weight and I was humiliated.
Fast forward three years to junior high. Despite my tomboy nature, I wore a dress to school one day and felt beautiful in it. It was white with giant sunflowers on it and belonged to my big sister so I felt cool and confident wearing it. In science class we were all taking notes off the overhead projector. I sat at the front of the class and a boy sitting at the table behind me requested loudly to “move your fat, I can’t see the screen.”
I’m 33 years old and I remember all too well what two boys said to me and made me feel about myself and my body and my worth when I was 10 and 13 years old.
Last year’s weight gain turned me into a person I didn’t recognize. Both physically and emotionally, I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. I had added layers to myself in my attempts to feel better about all the stressful and hard things that were going on. In the last 15 days, doing this crazy Whole33, I have seen those layers start to melt away. Literally, I’ve seen my body drop pounds and fat and jiggle like I didn’t think was possible in such a short amount of time. But I’ve also had hard days (hello, PMS) in which I couldn’t turn to food for comfort.
I’ve had to feel my feelings, and that’s been so hard and so good.
Feeling my feelings may be part of the reason that I’m pondering what those boys said to me so many years ago. I’m hopeful that, at the end of these 33 days, I’ll be healthier in more ways than just physically. I hope that I can finally learn a truth that I desperately want my own daughter (and sons, for that matter) to grasp; that our bodies are important and we have to take care of them, but they do not determine our worth. Our worth is secure because of Jesus. Whether my arms jiggle when I wave or I can rock a sleeveless shirt without shame this summer, I am loved, I am loved, I am loved by a love that will not let me go.
And that is enough.