Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A couple of weeks ago my aunt posted a picture of me at a family barbeque on Facebook.  I was horrified when I saw the picture.  Now everyone is going to know I'm fat! I thought.  As if a picture somehow opens everyone's eyes to what I am.  It opened my eyes.  I go around with a much thinner image of myself in my head until I see a picture of myself or really look in the mirror, and then I think that, possibly, I distort that image and make it large and grotesque. 

I asked my aunt to take the picture down.  She complied, which relieved a lot of stress for me, but before she took it down I was curled up in bed in the fetal position, obsessing over the fact that a fat picture of me was on the internet.  I decided to try to practice a little kind self talk, and I imagined another version of myself stroking my hair and saying, "There, there,...I love you."  A tear formed in the corner of one of my eyes, and then the self-loving version of myself said, "You are precious."

At those words something inside me screamed, "The woman in that picture is NOT precious," and I started bawling.  There it was.  That deeply held, but never consciously acknowledged belief that the way I look determines whether or not I deserve love.  It determines my worth as a person.  I didn't think I believed that, but I can't deny it any longer.  I don't know how to fix that belief.  It's just there in a spot I can't reach.

I can't show you the picture because I didn't save it, and my aunt has removed it from the internet.  I don't want to ask her to send it to me, although I could.  I did tell her how I was struggling with my appearance.  She would understand perfectly if I told her I wanted to hold onto the picture as a way of accepting myself.  I took another picture of myself today, though, so I can put it on the internet, which is stressing me the hell out, but it seems like a first step in accepting and loving myself.

I'm posting this, not only as an act of acceptance, but as an act of faith in myself.  I'm going to need a before picture, right?

Oh!  And later in the evening, sometime after my meltdown over calling myself precious, someone posted the following on Facebook:

 It doesn't make sense to call ourselves ugly, because we don't really see ourselves. We don't watch ourselves sleeping in bed, curled up silent with our chests rising & falling with our own rhythm. We don't see ourselves reading a book, eyes fluttering and glowing. You don't see yourself looking at someone with love and care in your heart. There's no mirror in your way when your laughing and smiling and pure happiness is leaking out of you. You would know exactly how bright and beautiful you are if you saw yourself in the moments where you are truly your authentic self. 
 Somehow I was able to accept this as absolutely true about myself.  There is so much more to a person than could ever be captured in a snapshot.  A picture can never show how beautiful I really am.


  1. oh...I can so relate to this. I had an aunt post not one but multiple images of me on Facebook at my sister's wedding last year and it was so atrocious for me. I still feel depressed about it, and I did not ask her to take them down because, unfortunately, many other people wanted to see the pictures (and I have a huge family), and a few of my other relatives wanted to see those pictures.

    I swallowed the pain of it (badly, I might add), and they are still up. In fact, my sister who got married has a picture of us all standing together. I realize the picture is coming from a place of love, but I still see it as a sign of my own weakness for being so overweight.

    Anyway...I find myself avoiding outings where I think people will take pictures of me and post them. I avoid Christmas get-togethers and other things where I have to pose with groups. Ugh! I'm starting to loosen up a little bit about it, but not really. I definitely have the same issue you speak of.

    I love your quote about true beauty. It's so true, and it's a shame our society is so shallow and unable to witness true beauty except as it's forefed to us in magazines and movies.

    And honestly, your picture does not look bad in any way to me. Of course, I am 5'3" and 220 lbs, so I bet I am more overweight than you are, BMI-wise.

    Thank you for sharing!

    1. I don't know what I weigh, just that it's more than I've ever weighed in my life, and I'm too afraid to get on the scale and find out what that number is, but I can tell you that 220 sounds like a fine first goal weight to build on to me. I remember when I weighed that, and I felt pretty good about my body then. I'm tall and carry weight well,...to a point. (I've long since past that point. lol!)

      By the way, I think you are adorable!

    2. I think weighing can be a problem--it seems cruel and unnecessary. I know some health gurus recommend not doing it. Just doing healthy things for yourself and not focusing too much on the number. I think that's good advice!

      Hugs and thanks for the goodness!!

    3. Siddaleah, that picture is not bad at all! It is so totally absolutely doable for you to lose the weight you want, because you don't have that much to lose! I'm looking at your picture and seeing only the reality of the image before my eyes--you are in a very good starting place! I can't imagine you needing to lose more weight than I did, and I lost 70 lbs and at my favourite weight was 134 lbs. (I now weigh 155, which is NOT my favourite weight! LOL) I just want to say that you actually have a really nice shape, and if you want to slim it down and tone it up, you are going to be amazed at the difference a few months and a few changed habits will make. Watching you go is going to inspire me, I'm sure of it!

    4. Oh Carla, you made me feel so much better, but I do have at least 90 lbs to lose, maybe more since I am just going by the last time I got on the scale, and I know I'm bigger now by 10 lbs or more, so I'm estimating that I need to lose 100, or that I'd like to. If I lost 60 I'd be around where I was a few years ago, and I was pretty comfortable with my body then, so I'd be okay with 60. It is true that I carry weight well. When I gain I gain all over, and that is a blessing, but it also means I can put on a lot before it starts to bother me and before I start to really notice. My favorite weight is 160. (Although, last time I was 160 I thought I was fat. Silly girl, I was.)

      Thank you for the encouraging pep talk! I'm going to make you proud of me. :-)_

    5. I agree with Carla, Siddaleah! With all your talk of being so fat you can't leave the house I had a very different image in mind :o You look like you have a good basis to work from. And I think you're right, it can be good to have a "before" picture :)

      For me, exercise makes a huge difference in my life. It's not just about burning calories, it also helps improve my mood enormously. I strongly believe I would have ended up in a deep depression if I hadn't been an exercise junkie before Big Boy was born. I know that starting to exercise can seem really tough, but it can become a habit. One person I read suggested the best way to break habits was to substitute them with good ones. So, if you can find some way to make exercise a way of life, even if it's starting with a hundred steps a day...

      Arwen (tarotbyarwen) has been using some programme that counts how much you walk, that she's been finding inspiring. And there are lots of different types of exercise you can do at home (I hate gyms, desptite being an exercise junkie).

      If you ever want exercise suggestions, Carla and I are both vidiots, with very different perspectives, so plenty to choose from :)

    6. Yeah, I like tomboyish workouts with more of a gym style, old-school step, and kickboxing. Chloe likes flowing, functional fitness type workouts that are all about grace and posture and stuff. Even my preference in yoga (kundalini) focuses more on repetition and endurance, whereas I bet Chloe loves flowing yoga like Shiva Rhea, am I right???

      I can highly recommend the 30 Minutes to Fitness series by Kelly Coffey Meyer. She is a lovely person and her workouts are short and to the point, and they have no dread-factor. And her modifier is the best in the bizz!

    7. Exercise works wonders as far as relieving depression for me goes. I just am really bad at sticking with it.

      I have tried videos, gym memberships, home exercise equipment of every shape and size, walking, swimming, skating, Wii fit, Dance, Dance Revolution, you name it, and I have never been able to make exercise a habit. I'm good for a while, but then I miss a few days, and days turn into weeks, weeks into months.

      I've started and stopped so many times I'm doubting my ability to actually follow through, so I really have to work on believing I can change. I am so afraid that I'm doomed to fail at this stuff until I die.

      I'm sorry. You both have excellent advice. I don't mean to discount it. I will keep trying. Hey, I watched a yoga video today! lol

      I do tend to prefer the no nonsense repetitive motion type of exercise, though. I actually like lifting weights. I just need to develop an attitude somehow that will help me keep doing it. Whatever it turns out to be.

    8. The main thing is to do something, even if it's just standing up during a commercial and dancing around the living room to music you sing in your own head. Or sing out loud, why the heck not! In fact, that sounds like a fun idea. Let's try it tonight - every commercial, just jump up and boogie around the living room until the break's over. :)

    9. I don't just like flowy workouts, Carla, though you're right - I love Shiva Rea! Your idea of dancing around during commercials sounds hilarious, except I don't tend to watch TV with ads... Made me think of Deva Premal and Miten's 21 day Mantra Meditation Journey. They did a bonus day 22, and it was about shaking. Just stand somewhere (preferably private) and let yourself start to shake from the feet up. They did a little guided shake, and I have to say it was loads of fun. What do you think, Siddaleah? :D

    10. Yes, but I don't like flowy workouts at all! They make me feel like a graceless cow. :)

      I like the idea of shaking. That's funny!

  2. Shaking? Worth a try. lol! I did annoy my whole family once on one of my exercise kicks where I actually insisted everyone get up during commercials and do some kind of exercise whether it was marching, bicep curls, lunges or pushups. Do you know how hilarious it is to watch one husband and four kids grudgingly, yet frantically exercise in a tiny living room?

    1. Why did they have to do it, too? Try jumping up and doing whatever, and enjoy watching their bemused expressions. Maybe they'll sit there and cheer you on. And I bet the littlest will jump in there with you voluntarily. :)

  3. Because I'm the mom, and I said so. lol! They really didn't mind. Think of it as a family experiment. I was just trying to add a little activity to their day and show them how easily done it could be. I was not depressed at the time. :-P Exercise will happen for me again. I do want to grow stronger. I just have to take things one step at a time or I will get overwhelmed and give up.