You Aren’t Good Enough The Way You Are – Beyond The Pages #3

Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!

 

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The book that inspired this conversation:

45 Pounds (More Or Less)45 Pounds (More Or Less) by KA Barson

What It Is About:

Ann has been overweight for many years — she’s tried every diet under the sun, has felt pressure from her perfectly sized mother and she’s just come to accept it’s part of who she is. But when her aunt asks her to be a bridesmaid she decides she’s got to lose at least 45 pounds so that she can look her best for the wedding so she decides to try a diet that she finds on an infomercial. Ann takes on a job to pay for her new endeavor of losing weight and along the way learns a lot about herself, her family and meets some new friends along the way.

What It Got Me Thinking About:

body image + society, loving your body, how my mom’s views on her body affected me, the messages teens (and grownups) see and hear regarding their body

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Man, as a woman, it’s hard to love your body. Everything is telling us we shouldn’t. Telling us it’s not GOOD enough. That X, Y, Z is what is considered to be beautiful or a nice body and shaming us when we don’t have it. “You don’t want to be fat. Because FAT is no good, right? EW.  Not even when you are pregnant. NOPE NOPE NOPE. We will talk about just how fat you’ve gotten. But hey, don’t be too skinny because that is GROSS (my 18 year sister barely weights 100 pounds no matter what she eats and got this before) and that probably means you are anorexic or doing drugs.”

There are these standards and ideals that just do not even take into consideration one’s genes or living situation or even what is truly HEALTHY and good for us. Some of us will NEVER look like models no matter HOW hard we work out or diet. Our butts just like to stick out and be the center of attention, the boob fairy NEVER came (my problem), our shoulders or hips or thighs are just naturally ALIGNED that way or are naturally wider.

But every day we are told and shown what we should look like and what we should aspire too. We hear the disparaging remarks amongst friends and family — the offhanded comments like “OMG I’m so fat” or “UGH I can’t eat THAT because I will get fat.” We say them ourselves. It cycles around our head — all the messages telling us we aren’t good enough. And it affects us.

I’ve never been anywhere NEAR being overweight (I always got made fun of for being too skinny) but I can’t tell you the horrible things I think about my body and how I wish it was not jiggly in places,  how I can tell I’ve gained weight and my jeans are feeling a bit more snug since becoming unemployed even though I work out and eat healthy. I struggle with my body image and always have. I could REALLY relate to Ann and this book because it’s hard to love your body no matter WHAT your size is. There are always insecurities and society bombarding us with reinforcing messages.

Like Ann (and this part was SOOOO relatable in the book) I can pin point a lot of my struggles with weight back to how my mom talked about her body. My mom was a great mom. She was. But she battled with her body. She never told me this herself, and I wish she was still alive so I could talk to her about this, but my aunt told me she struggled with anorexia growing up as a twenty something. How this manifested in my life? I saw a mom who was OBSESSED with calorie counting and buying low fat (really GROSS cardboardy) food and sometimes skipping meals. She worked out like crazy. And if she was in front of a mirror she would always talk about how fat she was. And she wasn’t. Sometimes she didn’t even need a mirror to remark about her body.

In the book, Ann notices the effects her mom’s own body issues have on her and her little sister. I also see how much of how my mom perceived and talked about her body is how I began to think of mine. After all, I learn a lot of things from my mother so this isn’t weird that I would pick this sort of thing up. I’ve never struggled with anorexia but I had crazy body issues. I battled with food even though I was skinny. I gained weight in college, like most freshman DO, and I went crazy hard on myself. My roommate and bff at the time even pointed out how deeply different I see my body vs how everyone else does. She said she thought I was convinced I weighed at least 100 lbs more than I did. And during this time I was gravitating towards other people who would talk trash about their body. We’d each one up each other on how gross we thought our bodies were. It was so unhealthy but it was so, so normal and acceptable almost because it seems like we

Now I’m at the point where I just strive to be healthy. Do I still have days where I do not like my body?  Yep. But I’m learning to accept my body and all its perceived flaws. I work out to be healthy and active and I eat pretty darn healthy because I want my body to be strong and taken care of. I used to equate skinny with healthy and as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized how wrong I was. Sure, I could eat all the fast food in the world and still be string bean skinny in college but that did not mean healthy.

I think the biggest thing I’ve taken away is how I want to talk about MY body if I have kids ever or when I talk to Genevieve and Adela as they get older. I always knew in the back of my mind that my mom’s self body image was something engrained in my mind but when I was reading this book it stood out to me even more. I want to begin to drop some of these seemingly innocent but unhealthy self hating body image comments — for myself and for the people around me.

I personally thought that this novel handled the issue well showing that our  love and  self acceptance of our bodies will never stick if we are just focused on the scale and crash dieting and working for something superficial. Ann did that and tried those things and focused on a number and dropping the weight FAST, something A LOT of people do, and ultimately realizes that it’s a lifestyle change and that there’s got to be something that runs deeper in her reason to lose weight.

Have you struggled with body image and loving your body? Do you struggle with talking badly about your body? I’m curious how your mom or older sister or any type affected the way you perceive or talk about your own body. I’d also love to know any other novels you know that deal with body image and weight!

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.

Comments

  1. SO much to say on this topic, so I apologize in advance for basically the novel you’re about to read.

    I love love love that more YA books are coming out about body image. I think it’s such an important thing for teens (not just teen girls, as there are more and more teen boys being diagnosed with eating disorders) to read and understand.

    My Mom’s side of the family has always been overweight – from the few-extra-pounds Aunt to my obese Mom and Uncle. They never talked about it, it was never commented on (except for the time that my 4-year-old self told my 8 months pregnant mother that she looked like an elephant. I was a jerk), it just was accepted. BUT the second I started putting on weight, it was pointed out by everyone in my family. I remember shopping for my 8th grade semi-formal dress, and my Mom told the lady at Macy’s “she needs a dress to cover this flab” and pinched my stomach. Mind you, I was what, 13? And BARELY overweight, maybe 15lbs or so. But I was so upset, I left the store crying hysterically, called my Dad, and made him come pick me up. And that stuck with me for YEARS. So for all of high school, I knew I was fat, and I was horrible to myself about it. I’m talking DAILY telling myself I was a fat tub of lard, I was disgusting, I was ugly, etc etc. My best friend was diagnosed with an eating disorder, and I remember actually being JEALOUS of her. Like…what!?!?

    So, I graduated high school, still with that mindset. I’m an emotional eater, so, sitting at home alone, I’d just eat more. And I gained a few more pounds. By few more pounds I mean I literally doubled my weight.

    But somewhere along the way, I stopped beating myself up. I looked in the mirror and realized – “you know what? I’m bitchin’! I may be big, but I’m beautiful. I’m intelligent. I’m a genuinely nice person. So not every hot guy wants to date me? OH WELL! It’s time for me to start treating myself better.” And I did. I stopped the emotional eating, I stopped eating 3 plates of food. But most importantly, I stopped being an asshole (for lack of a better word) to myself.

    That’s led me to losing weight, the healthy way, through diet and exercise. NOT through surgery (BITE ME to everyone who said surgery was the only way to do it) or pills or crash diets or starving myself. So far, I’ve lost 70+ lbs, and I feel amazing. And I make it a point to tell myself 5 good things I like about me, every day.

  2. It took me 25 years to accept me how I am. And it was hard and tough, but I got there. My body is nowhere near perfect and I often cringe when I meet people because I can see that they see me and yeah…I’m not perfect. Which is probably not what they’re thinking. They’re probably thinking, oh what up midwest thick accent. And now I’m telling you FAR too much about me.

    But the thing is I got there. I have loving supportive parents who’s weight have often fluxuated and weight has never been a big deal in the family. I guess you could say I lucked out that way but looking back I was just in denial because my mom just lost 60 lbs in her 60 year and it was a big thing to her and our family for various reasons so I was clearly in denial for part of my life how my mom was effected by weight.

    I guess, I don’t know how to wrap this up besides saying I finally love myself, but it took 25 years including many years of cringing of being THAT girl. The big girl.

  3. I’m only fifteen and I understand this. I have a difficult body type whereby, I’m not fat (I’m a comfortable UK size 10 but I have no idea how American sizes work) and I have a healthy BMI but the shape of my body is strange where my back is like invertedly arched so that my stomach sticks out at the front and my bum sticks up and out at the back. his really lowers my self-esteem because I cannot wear body-con dresses or whatever without giving the impression that I am a couple of months pregnant (at 15!) it’s not my fault because I eat healthily, it’s just the way my body is built but it really sucks sometimes! On top of this, my grandmother is obsessed with my weight! I had to stay with her in the summer for eight weeks and she was constantly on at me to exercise and not eat sweets and eat healthier when I do all of that already! It has weakened our relationship (though I don’t think she knows that) to the extent that i had to stay with her for another two weeks over the holidays and I spent the whole time out visiting other relatives and at friend’s houses. We didn’t even have a proper long chat (it had been 4 moths since I last saw her because we live on different continents) because I didn’t want to hear about m weight and this really sucks because we were really close when I was growing up. Our society’s obsession with the perfect body image is one I hope will pass so that everybody can move on.

  4. This is a topic I think every woman, and even most men, can relate to! Society is obsessed with this ideal of a perfect body (although truth be told, even all the bodies they shove down our throats vary from one another). Nobody is perfect, simple as that. What it comes down to is being healthy, and happy, and secure in your own skin. It took me until after having my baby to realise this.
    All through my teens I was skinny, very skinny… I was the person that got those rude comments your sister received. At the age of 21, nearing 22, I fell pregnant. Less than three months I gave birth, by C-section, to my baby boy. My body has dramatically changed – I actually have ‘curves’, who knew they existed! Yes, I’m a little cuddlier than before, yes I’ve gained weight that I will never lose, yes my body has dramatically changed and adjusting to that was hard but ultimately, it’s my body – it is me. I’m proud of my mummy body, I was not proud of my super skinny body.
    This is a very topical discussion, particularly in this day and age, but I think it’s not about what size you are, it’s about accepting yourself and loving yourself for who you are. And health too, that’s important. What’s healthy for one isn’t necessarily what is healthy for another.

  5. I think this is a very sought after discussion. My mother was one of those mothers who constantly commented on her own weight (and then on mine and my sisters as we got older), I pretty much mirror my mother 5ft2″ and have a very similar body structure (we even have the same birthmark) so growing up she constantly used comment on how fat she was, getting angry when we or my step-dad would tell her she’s not fat at all and call us liars. My mum wasn’t a nasty woman but she was preoccupied and obsessed with thinking she was fat. She even skipped meals.

    It wasn’t until I was thirteen that is started to really affect me, I was fairly slim had curves in all the right places even sported a decent sized chest but then the comments would come in “don’t eat that you don’t want to end up fat like me”, then I got a boyfriend and went into higher education. With the pressure to be skinny to please my mum and boyfriend and the pressure of exams I delved into a depression and from the age of fifteen my eating disorder surfaced.

    I don’t want to say my mother was the primary source, because she must’ve had a source before her, there are so many pressures coming in from everywhere about how we should look and now I’m proud to say I’ve been in recovery for 6years and now at twenty four i’m a little on the snug side but I don’t care, my boyfriend loves me and more importantly I love myself (of course I still have the odd feeling of “maybe I should’ve left that chocolate” etc.)

    If I could go back and tell my fifteen year old self that I was beautiful I still probably wouldn’t have listened and I think that’s the problem. No matter how many times we or someone else says we’re beautiful and perfect the way we look there is such a huge counterbalance that is saying we have to look a different way.

    45 pound (more or less) really does sound like a great book to get your head into, I believe the majority of the population would have some sort of connection, I’ve has this on my TBR pile for a while now but I think I might sit down one afternoon and read it. What a great and insightful post. Thank you Jamie!

  6. Preach on, doyke! This is something I think about all the time because of the baby bettys. I didn’t have THE BEST self esteem in high school/college– regardless of the confidence I probably put off. Like you, I know I saw myself differently than other people saw me. I’ve always struggled with body image, even more so after having kids. The body just isn’t the same! Regardless, it comes down to accepting who we are, making good choices to stay healthy , and being content with that! I intentionally look at myself in the mirror and tell myself I look awesome when the kids are around. Do I always FEEL that way? NOOOO. haha but I want them to be that way and I WANT TO BE THAT WAY. I want them to see something beautiful every time they look in the mirror. I put so much effort into building their confidence because the world will do its best to bring them down! I can only hope they develop a strong foundation and don’t get caught up in unrealistic expectations to the point that it hurts them. It drives me crazy when people do the calorie counting thing– like a cookie is 2 points. Well… if you can have 12 points a day and just eat 6 cookies, that isn’t exactly “HEALTHY”. I’m with you on wanting to be strong and eating well to prevent disease and sickness. Same with exercising- I never think to myself.. “Oh, I need to work out so I don’t get fat”… It’s more like… “I need to work out to detox my body and condition it for endurance and a strong heart!”. That is what people need to focus on. Not just “getting skinny.” Life is SO MUCH MORE than “being skinny.” Anyway, I’m rambling. Great topic!

  7. I’m 25 and barely 100 lbs, no matter what I eat. For YEARS I’ve been really sensitive about people thinking I’m younger than I am because of the way I look. In fact, I rarely go to bars or order drinks at restaurants because it’s humiliating getting THE LOOK and then being asked for ID. Even more-so when I’m with a group of people. I’ve never even been to the liquor store on my own because I’m terrified of any remarks I might get at the register. Being this petite (I’m also only 5’2″) really affects my everyday life. Sometimes I’d wish I was a normal weight, or even a bit overweight, if that would make me look older. I’m also recalling a situation you’ve mentioned about your sister with the babies and a woman being nasty, thinking she was super young. Geesh, I feel for her. No matter your size or situation, it IS hard to love your body sometimes.

  8. This is such a great discussion/topic, Jamie! Also, I’m excited to see the book that this stemmed from because I have that one on my physical TBR and really want to read it soon. There are just so many factors that go into our body image and how we each feel about our bodies. My mom also was very critical of her body & I definitely think I internalized a lot of that. My family is a really large family–almost everyone is really tall, very broad-shouldered, and most of us are overweight or have been. I’m the shortest women in my family at 5’7.

    I feel I’ve gotten better about my body image in college but it’s still been TOUGH, and high school was the absolute worst. My mom was so sick and my family ate really poorly, which meant I gained even more weight. I had always been a bit on the heavy side growing up but nothing major. I gained a lot of weight in high school just from worry/not having time to take care of myself because everything just felt awful, and people noticed. I’ve lost some of the weight since then but definitely not all of it, and sometimes it’s hard to be positive. I realized a few years ago, though, that nothing was going to change if I continued to dislike how I looked. Now I focus much more on feeling better and less on my body looking a certain way because while my weight may fluctuate, there are things I just can’t change(or I mean, technically I could because we can do almost anything now, but I wouldn’t want to).

    It’s amazing how my friends and I in high school would have such in-depth conversations about our body and weight(and not in healthy ways, either, in very destructive ways), and now I’m just like THINK of all the things I could have accomplished in the time I spent fretting over the little things? If we hadn’t been so concerned with our appearances we could have made so many great experiences, but we lost on them because we were just nitpicking the smallest things.

    One thing that gets me is that whenever I lose weight, it’s always the first thing my family comments on. They do it in a congratulatory way, and I don’t hate it, exactly, but I am so much more than that and I have accomplished so many other things! I’ve won awards. I was the first person in my family to graduate from COLLEGE. But instead, it’s all about getting approval on how I look. I know it’s not just my family either, because I hear these stories all the time. I wished we focused more on congratulating people for what they’ve accomplished(and I’m not saying weight loss can’t be a part of that, but it’s certainly not the only thing for almost anyone) instead of how they look.

  9. Fantastic conversation topic! As women, we can all relate to this – no matter how confident we are in ourselves. Even women who seem to have great bodies, are fit and healthy have issues, which is so sad to me. A friend of mine is a dietician at a university and tells me about some of her patients and their problems (never specifics, obvs). It breaks my heart every time I hear about them, especially when she’ll tell me the backstory about why the student has problems.

    While I’ve managed to develop pretty good self-esteem as I’ve gotten older and have become content with who I am, I still have days where I think no one will love me or want me because of how I look, that how I look prevents me from true happiness and success. Which is stupid and I know it’s not true, but I can’t shake those feelings. I often think that if I looked differently – thinner, smaller boobs, better skin and hair – I would be happier. So I have to work really REALLY hard to overcome those thoughts.

    I think what it boils down to is understanding it doesn’t really matter what you look like; it matters that you’re healthy and happy, despite your appearance. Perhaps one day I can full grasp this and stop beating myself up. Great topic!

  10. This is a really thought provoking topic. I was like your sister when I was in high school…I think I was about 120 pounds when I graduated. And did I mention I was 6′ by that point? Yeah, way underweight. I went away to school and gained the weight that most students do. The thing was, I NEEDED to gain that weight…I just didn’t do it in the right way. I think that year I would have gained weight anyway (since I had FINALLY stopped growing) but I didn’t have gym classes or basketball and volleyball practices or homecooked meals to keep me healthy. I knew I needed to gain weight when I was that age but when I came home at the end of the year my mom made some comment about how it was a negative, like I didn’t NEED to gain that weight. I remember being sort of hurt and wondering what she was thinking because I was way too skinny. Even now (after having my gall bladder removed and dealing with all the weight loss that came with that…holy man, I went down to about 130…not good), I’d say I’m underweight for my height. BUT I also look at the squishy parts of me and wish they weren’t. And then I wish that I had the money for a gym membership. And then I think, why not just exercise at home? And then I sit on the couch and do nothing. lol. But body image is such a tricky thing and I wish there were more books like this that portray a healthy way to look at your body and how to deal with all the crap that comes with being a female in such a judging world. Here’s to being healthy! 🙂

  11. I really liked reading this post, Jamie. While I’ve been fortunate not to have too many body issues, I’ve always found it particularly off-putting when people assume that I love my body or should have no issues with it just because I’m a certain size or weight (because I’ve pretty much been this size for most of my life). I have my own insecurities that I deal with when it comes to my body, and it hurts to get that belittled sometimes! I really think body image is something most girls (and even guys) have to learn to deal with and accept in a healthy way. It’s my mission to take better care of my body this year — through diet and exercise to keep it healthy and functioning well.

  12. This one looks really good! I had been eyeing this book for quite some time and I’m not sure why I haven’t picked it up, since books like this are ones that I seem to be drawn to all the time. I’ve always suffered from poor body image. At one point I ate well and really got into running and was my ideal weight, but then it came back on and then I got pregnant and now I’m far from ideal. But I have to remind myself that while the journey to where I want to be (which, right now, is far from where my “ideal” weight was, just something healthy now) will be slowgoing, I grew a freaking human being inside of me! I mean, every new curve and mark on my body is something that makes me happy now — not to mention the bundle of joy in my arms right now!

    I like to think of it as a journey to being healthier rather than losing a certain amount of weight. It’s tough because our doctors say, “Oh, your BMI is this and it should be this,” so even they’re focusing on numbers rather than whether or not you’re actually healthy. All I can say is that if you’re happy and healthy and truly honour your body for what it is and what it can do, you’re golden.

    Great discussion!

  13. I totally agree that the attitudes of the other women in your life (especially your mother’s) can influence your own body-image. My mum is a great mum too but has always talked about being fat, ugly and old despite being neither of these things in my eyes. I don’t blame her as I think women are conditioned to think that way largely by the media, and it’s something that’s handed down the generations. I’ve always had low-self esteem and have been through all the calorie-counting, yo-you dieting, obsessive exercising and so on. Now I’m in a better place and trying to accept my body for how it is (i.e naturally curvy, with stretch marks, cellulite and plenty of wobbly bits) whilst focusing on the things I DO love about it (eg. my slim upper body, thick blonde hair etc.) I’m getting married in a few months and although I am conscious of being slim enough to fit into my dress, I’m focusing more on health and fitness at the moment rather than size, or a number on a scale. Health is what’s really important. When I have kids I want to be a good role model for them, so I’m trying to start as I mean to go on.

  14. I related to this post in so many different ways. As someone who has struggled with body image issues and severe eating disorders, I know how your body can be your worst enemy. It’s made worse by things like the media. Being women, we are constantly bombarded with messages that say ‘love yourself! Love your body!” and right after that, we are told about this great new diet. It’s a lose/ lose situation for us. We are taught to love our bodes, but only if we fit into the media’s idea of beauty.

    Being the daughter of a woman who could eat a full cake and lose a pound, I had such an unhealthy relationship with food. Combine that with depression, and you can understand a bit about what I was going through. I was the same as you, Jamie, where I was over exaggerating how big I was, but I didn’t think I was. I was obsessed with calories, I would only eat two meals a day, maximum. I spiralled so far down the rabbit hole that I was hospitalized for anorexia. I was pushed to such an unhealthy standard of living because my perception of beauty was so thrown out of wack. A few months ago, my therapist and I sat down at a computer with photoshop. We spent a couple of hours, playing around with a photo of a model, and discovered how easy it was to manipulate these women’s bodys, and how our minds are manipulated with that same ease. It was after that that I really accepted my body, and started on the road to getting into a healthier lifestyle.

    There are still days when I hate everything my body is. I avoid mirrors, wear clothes to cover my ‘flaws’, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop having those days. But then again, we all have those days. We’re all human, and we’re all so harsh to ourselves. I like what you said, Jamie, about how it’s all about focusing on being healthy.

    Thank you for writing this post. I really related to it, and I loved seeing your story relating to it. 🙂

  15. Oh girl, I love this post. First of all, I have to commend you on pointing out that girls/women have body image issue no matter WHAT size they are–big or small. It seems like that is one message that gets lost in today’s society. Another important point I’m glad you brought up is that so much of our body image has to do with the other girls we surround ourselves with! In high school, I had a huge problem with the way I looked, to the point where I stopped eating. When I look back, and I think about it, it wasn’t my mom for me–it was my friends. I hung out with a bunch of girls who would obsess over what they ate and counting every calorie and agonizing over every outfit because it made them look “fat.” And it was the “thing” to talk about how terrible you looked. College thankfully got better, but even today, I still struggle sometimes with having “fat” days, like anyone. Getting away from those friends after high school definitely helped, and surrounding myself with a positive support has really helped to come to the realization you have–that eating healthy and being in shape is what’s important! Anyway, great post, as always!

  16. I think I’ve always been overweight. As someone in a really superficial part of the world, I always struggled with it. I never bothered to try to lose it or never became super obsessed with LOSING it, but I always had problems with people making fun of me.

    It’s not even cool, y’know? Like people have no idea how much their comments can scar someone else. For me, I can’t be called “pretty” without denying it straight away. (And I’m not fishing for attention.) And I have absolutely no idea how I’m ever supposed to get over it.

    Now, I kind of just live. But it freaks me out whenever we talk about weight in class; I get really self conscious and think people are talking about me when they aren’t. I also put myself down without thinking about it and wish I could be like all those girls who are like size 5 at least.

    This was such an awesome post <33

  17. I have always had issues with my weight. I love food and I know that I lack self-control. I want to be skinner or I should say, at a healthy weight. It is the hardest, daily struggle. I am really interested in this book!

  18. I love this post! I’ve been struggling with my weight for years. I’ve been up and down a lot, currently at something I think is manageable but still on the higher side. Like you, I’m trying to focus on being healthy. When my analysis numbers from a doctor’s visit are good, then I’m satisfied. So much is our own outlook and how we perceive ourselves, and whether we allow others to control how we feel.

  19. Omg. Sorry I’m spamming your blog with comments again today, but I have to comment on this beautifully written post. I struggled with my body. Who doesn’t. I’m really short (5’2″) so when I gain a tiny bit of weight you can see it (or at least I can). I never used to struggle until I got to college and gained the normal freshman weight. I began hating looking at myself in the mirror. I began talking badly about myself all the time. It’s awful. I still don’t feel like me and I still struggle with this one a daily basis. I was able to lose some weight this past year because I worked out a ton, but I really have a hard time eating healthy. I just like bad food too much. Fail. I make skinny recipes and change everything so they’re no longer skinny. Lol.

    I never really thought about it, but my mom is also extremely hard on herself. She used to be slightly overweight when I was a kid, nothing major, and constantly talked about how fat and ugly she was. Then she lost a bunch of weight and she seriously looks amazing, but she still hates on herself all the time. She skips meals a lot and nothing anybody says can change her mind. I won’t sit here and blame her necessarily for my body image issues, but I definitely agree with you that she probably has played a role in how I look at myself. It also doesn’t help that I have a grandmother who feels the need to point out every time I see her that I’ve “gained weight” or “gotten fat”.

    The one thing I will say is that my husband is extremely supportive and encouraging. He did P90X with me this past year because I couldn’t do it alone and he is constantly cheering me on (even though he insists my body is fine). But I think what it comes down to is me. I have to be the one to like myself. I have to be the one to say “damn I look good!” It doesn’t matter what anyone else says or sees. I have to accept me for me. I have to accept the fact that I will never look like a model. My body type isn’t cut out for that. I would fall over if I was that skinny. I’m working on it, I really am. It’s a battle every single day. I hope that soon I can win. Thank you for writing such an inspiring and honest post.

    One more thing: On a book note, for anybody with body image issues, I recommend The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Don’t know if you’ve read this series, but obviously it’s a fantasy, but the MC has serious body image issues and spends all three books working through them. I was crying so hard at the ending because of how her thoughts change. It’s truly a beautiful transformation.

  20. Lovely, thoughtful post, Jamie!

    Honestly, I’ve been overweight for awhile now, and I’ve tried fad diets and things to lose weight, and had moderate “success” but the best thing for me has just been resolving to eat healthier. I hated my body for a long, long time. Didn’t see how anyone could ever find me attractive. Then slowly, I started to see there are things I can do to improve. I started building my self-confidence. I started telling myself I needed to love myself AND my body first, before I worried about anyone else loving me. It took awhile and it wasn’t easy, but I’m much happier with myself now. I still want to be in better shape and I’m working on that, getting there.

    But yes. Girls growing up can’t win. KC said it best – “if you’re thin, they’ll call it a walking disease, if you’re not, they’re all screaming ‘obese’.” It’s AWFUL seeing the media flay models alive for being too thin / too fat, and then young girls or teens trying to figure out where they fit in. It makes me really, really angry actually, so I tend to soapbox it if I ever hear anyone talking badly about their bodies.

    <3 ya!

  21. I love how there are more and more books battling with these type of problems. I think it’s every important for teenagers to get better messages than the ones we get from the media. I would lie if I say that I don’t have problems with my body image, but it changes every day.. Sometimes I feel beautiful and confident, sometimes I absolutely hate how I look and I can only see fat and cellulite. It’s a constant struggle, but I’m starting to realize that the most important thing is how I feel. It doesn’t matter how you look, as long as you feel healthy and feel happy with who you are. It’s not about size or about weight, it’s about accepting who you are and loving yourself for it. I’m very interested in this book, thanks for sharing.

  22. I can relate to this post in so many ways. I should be happy with my body. I know I should. I work out regularly. Eat fairly well. And weigh a healthy amount. But I really struggle. I always have. I’m not as bad as I used to be. I think I’ve come a long way from the days I used to obsess over calories. I am very slowly accepting my body for the way it is – hips and cellulite and all.

    I don’t have kids but I think you raise a really good point about how a mother’s body issues could pass to their kids. I wouldn’t want to pass my body image issues on to my kids. I would want these hypothetical children to be healthy and happy.

  23. As I briefly mentioned on Twitter, this post really spoke to me. It hit home and it hit hard, and it’s a subject that I’ve dealt with for a very long time. I don’t remember much of my mom’s body image or what she said growing up because I honestly blocked most of my childhood out. I do know that now, she does make comments about how she is so “fat” and “needs to loose about 20 pounds”.

    I honestly don’t reply much when it comes up because I struggle with it on my own. I’ve always been skinny. I’ve been teased about it all my life. I hated it. I hated all the comments I got (and still do) about eating everything I want and never gaining a pound. It’s taken me over seven years to get to a healthy weight for ME.

    There were years growing up with my ex step-mother in the house where she would serve me my meals and I wasn’t allowed to. I had to eat what she gave me, in the portion she gave me. If I wanted more? I had to brace myself for the storm that was about to hit. If I wasn’t hungry? Same thing. I grew up in a home during divorce where there was NO food – then to come deal with my step-mother’s actions? It was a mess, and it really messed me up over the years.

    I went into meet with a doctor when I first started college after some eating behaviors really started to scare me. I was terrified. I knew something wasn’t right and I was ready to get the help that I knew I needed. I was told flat out that there was “nothing wrong with you, you’re just making it up and a normal teenage girl”.

    I…. am still blown away. I knew there was an issue, I knew something was wrong – and I was ready to take the step and reach out for help only to be pushed away. That still gets to me this day. I STILL struggle. I still go through periods where I barely eat, and if I do – it’s only so I don’t pass out. Then there comes the times where I don’t stop eating. It’s not healthy. I know that, but no one – not one person I saw in the office wanted to help me.

    I don’t want my younger cousin to go through this and I don’t want it to happen to the kids I work with. I hear it every now and then from one of them and it absolutely kills me. I make sure to sit down and talk to her about it and tell her she is perfect, etc.

    I wish I had that growing up, I really did. I wish I had someone to pull me aside and talk to me because they were worried instead of making so many comments about how much weight I’ve lost, someone to ask if I was okay. Instead, I got comments about my weight and how I looked instead of the help and encouragement I really needed.

    Thank you for such a great post! It means a lot to be able to read the comments of others and their experiences and know that I’m not alone. It’s a real struggle and sometimes it’s one I face day to day, some days are better than others but I’m getting to the point where I am truly becoming healthier and happier.. has it been easy? No, but I am so proud of how far I’ve come.

    XOXO

  24. I only became REALLY okay with my body like a year and a half ago, when I started doing heavy weightlifting regularly. I was never overweight, but I was never as skinny as I wanted to be. My body (and mentality!) changed, and it is not the body I see on TV or in magazines – my thighs/butt/arms/shoulders/chest EXPLODED to the point where I can’t wear any of my old clothes. My already not that big boobs are only getting smaller. I lost weight (but not the cellulite!), and went up several sizes. I feel like normal or “girly” clothes look ridiculous on me, but that’s something I need to get over mentally as well.

    So while I’m still worrying about my parts that jiggle where I don’t want them to or why my abs aren’t popping out yet, there are people telling me I look like a man. There is such a fine line of what the “acceptable” body is – you can’t be overweight (which according to the BMI chart I am, but that thing is a load of bull) and you can’t be too skinny and you can’t be too strong. You need to “tone” your “long muscles” to achieve the “desired body”, which is just code for gaining muscle while losing fat anyway.

    I’ve had to fill my social media feeds with women with my kind of body, and with the kind of body I want to have. That makes it sound weird and unhealthy, and it does get a little all-consuming sometimes. I figure it has to be better than seeing only images of women who have a body I could never have – not only because of “lack of discipline” and being unable to be skinny like that, but because all bodies are different, which was an important thing for me to understand.

    I could blab about this forever, but I’ll stop after I say that I really like this post and I hope it and this book helps more young women come to the same realization about their bodies. And I hope that your nieces grow up to feel good about their bodies, either on their own or with your help.

  25. Thank you for bringing attention to this topic, Jamie!

    As a new momma, I struggle HUGELY with this. When I was pregnant, a couple coworkers shared an article with me that was all about how mom’s talk about their body and how it impacts their daughters unintentionally. And how we can tell others they are beautiful and perfect and happy and healthy but it is SO FREAKING HARD to do that for ourselves. WHY!

    So, I’ve been very conscious already (yes, even with an 8 month old!) to not say anything negative about my body or other people’s bodies around Lucy. I’m still struggling to find a balance of enjoying my hobbies, my life with my family, and getting in shape. I have this guilt complex where if I spend too much time exercising when Lucy is awake I feel like I’m neglecting our time together. Or if I wait until she goes to bed it’s too late. ARGH.

    Ultimately, there are all sorts of obstacles that come in the way of truly loving ourselves and for women, weight is a big one. BIG. But when we talk about it in community like this, I think we’re one step closer to acceptance and change and forgiving ourselves for not being perfect!

    oxoxo

  26. Thank you for writing this post Jamie as it is something that I can relate to very well. Unfortunately 😉
    I am 21 years old now and I have been a Yo-Yo concerning my weight my whole life. As a kid I was very chubby, but not fat or anything. Around age 10 something happened in my life that made me not eat as much as before and I lost weight drastically. Later, when I was around 14 I was bullied in high school. They called me names, and all the names they called me had something to do with being “fat”. I now know I wasn’t fat, at all, but because of them I felt like it. To battle my insecurities I started to eat, and I ate A LOT. I binged so many times and I gained a LOT of weight. The summer after high school was such a happy time for me, I lost weight again. But freshman year? I gained it back. And this has been ongoing since then. Right now, I’m in one of my ‘bigger’ fases. But I do hate being such a Yo-Yo.

    Even now (at 21) I’m still sometimes struggling with the way I look and feeling good about myself. Lately though I have pledged to lose weight, but this time in a healthy way. I’ve been eating more healthy food and I have started going to the gym. I don’t starve myself, I just changed my lifestyle. Just like the protagonist in the book does. I should definitely be reading this book, thanks for sharing your own story. And I totally understand what you mean – if I ever have kids, I want to be in a healthy state of mind about the way I look. I don’t want my Yo-Yo thing to affect them in any way.

  27. I’m glad you posted about this. Rebecca over at The Library Canary recommended I read this post, and I agree wholeheartedly with you. I think that even if we were at our desired weight/appearance/size, we’d still complain about something. It’s sad that we feel the need to change details about ourselves when we’re perfect just the way we are. Appearances aren’t everything, even if we’re tricked into thinking that they are.

  28. I’ve always been the skinny girl like 115-120. I actually liked the way my body looked until I got pregnant. Pregnancy…I never EVER want to feel like that again. It sucks to hear people talking about how great it is that you’ve gained weight or are showing a massive belly. Even though I was pregnant, my brain was freaking out because I felt ‘fat’. I didn’t think that I had body image problems – until then. It’s unfortunate that my aversion to being pregnant is the main reason my kid will never have a sibling.

    The sad part is that I didn’t gain much weight. The day after I delivered, I was 10 lbs over my ideal weight. I didn’t even look like I had been pregnant 24 hrs before, but I still felt ugly in my own body. I hate this belly pouch. It’s like 5lbs of skin that refuses to this day to go away. Although, I am happy that my boobs went down a size…(my mother has natural breasts the size of watermelons).

    But that skin on my belly that I imagine to be probably 10x larger than it is. Or the fact that I will stop eating altogether if the scale hits 131. It’s not a healthy way to live.

    My mother also had problems with her body. She looks great at a size 8-10. She looks anorexic as a size 6. She’d go on a diet for a few months, get down to the size she wants and then eat her way back to a size 14-16. Then, she’d do it all over again. To this day, she talks to me about her latest diet. When I try to talk to her on the subject, it gets dismissed. I’m too skinny to want to be on a diet. Just because I’m skinny doesn’t mean that I’m any more happy with the way I look!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Beyond the Pages post “You Aren’t Good Enough The Way You Are” gets to the heart of the issue of body image, and she even shares some personal thoughts. I […]

  2. […] The Perpetual Page-Turner explored how body image is portrayed in society and through books […]

  3. […] You Aren’t Good Enough the Way You Are–Beyond the Pages #3 @ The Perpetual Page-Turner I really loved this post. I think it’s an important topic to talk about and I love the way Jamie’s framed these discussions in terms of the book that sort of relate to the issue she’s talking about. […]

  4. […] You Aren’t Good Enough the Way You Are from The Perpetual Page-Turner […]