Body Issues

Does that phrase just make you want to curl up inside yourself?  It does for me.  Frequently.

“Every woman has something about their bodies they don’t like.”  I know that’s supposed to be comforting.  And it is, to a small extent.  I know I’m not alone in struggling with this.  But it doesn’t really help all that much.  It’s more the ‘misery loves company’ kind of help.

I just want to look good!  Is that too much to ask?

I want to feel good about my appearance.  I want to make a good first impression.  I want to have the confidence that I don’t look sloppy, or overly-done, or like I don’t take care of myself.  There’s this illusive balance that I’m wanting to achieve: it lies somewhere between being intentionally comfortable in my own skin (regardless of it’s shape), and trying to fit into a media-driven culture that is pretty specific about what the standards of attractiveness are.  And how I don’t measure up.

I’m not talking about the opposite sex, here.  (Even though that is a huge part of what the culture says the measure of attractiveness is!)  I’m talking about the kind of attractiveness that is pleasing and inviting, in a non-sexual kind of way.  An attractiveness that projects warmth, approachability, self-awareness and self-confidence.  And I want to appear put-together.  Like I’ve got it all under control.

Wow.  See what kind of issues that thought process stirs up?  Yes, it has to do with physical appearance; but it also has to do with character.  With who I am, down inside the shell.  Cuz, baby, that stuff is gonna work it’s way to the outside – no doubt about it.  I might have a Malibu Barbie body, but if I have a Wicked Witch character… yeah.  Totally ruins it.  Can I get an amen?

I’m sitting here asking myself where I’m going with this.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that, even though I’m surrounding myself with books on how to have a realistic wardrobe that works for my figure and lifestyle, on a budget I can afford — that I’m also trying to deal with some deep-seated psychological issues, too.  The (impossible to achieve) desire to be liked by everyone.  The desire to be taken seriously and not dismissed as an air-head.  The desire to even be admired.  Rejection and acceptance…I’ve had these issues since childhood.  And while I’m chipping away at them and can see that I’ve made some progress, I sure haven’t gotten them licked yet!

So really…. if I’m not comfortable with who I am on the inside, isn’t it nigh impossible to be comfortable with who I am on the outside?  Am I paying attention to camouflaging my fat as an attempt to camouflage  my insecurities?

I would like you to respond, dear readers.  I really want to hear what you have to say about this, about your own struggles, and how you’re doing in dealing with them.  But… do me a favor?  I kinda don’t want you to try to ‘make me feel better’ by giving me compliments.  Don’t worry, it’s not that I think I don’t ever deserve compliments (because sometimes I do.  Oh, I have pride issues too… but anyway) it’s just that, right now, compliments aren’t what I’m looking for.  Just know that I think sweet of you, to want to do that, and then go on and tell me about your struggles.  Maybe misery loving company has some greater value, after all.


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bluedamselflyjewelry
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 00:13:19

    So I will just compliment you and get that out of the way!

    I know how your perception of your image can inhibit you from being the person you want to be.
    But how much of that is you trying to be what you think others feel you should be?
    Loosing a few pounds is something we all struggle with but in the end it is what is on the inside that counts. You could be the most sexiest a hole in the world or you could be an overweight by a few pounds wonderful person.
    It is only when you can be comfortable in your skin however stretchy it is that you will come to realize how great and blessed of a person you are. I say focus on the blessings you have every day. Even if it is only saying to yourself thank you god for getting grease all over my new shirt and not in my eye. (one of my blessings to day) Find the small but wonderful things every day and it will give you the energy to complete your journey.
    I too want to loose a few pounds but have not started on that journey yet. For me it is still all talk and no action so you are doing better than I am.
    Keep up the great work and know that it gives me and others great comfort to come along on your journey.
    Julie S

    (what no spell check sorry?)


    • Charlene
      Aug 29, 2011 @ 10:12:31

      Hi Julie!
      Wow, i don’t know where to start, here in my reply. Probably a confession…. lol!

      I didn’t recognize your blog name, so I had to go check it out. I read… and read, and read and read! Got sucked in for a good 30 minutes before I realized it had happened. I was encouraged, challenged, and found myself rooting for you in my head. Your blog link will definitely go to my “reading” list!

      Now to your very thought-provoking comment (thank you): I think a lot of it is me trying to fit in. Analytically, the only people whose opinion should matter are myself and my husband. My head knows this, but my heart stubbornly refuses to accept it. When I try to plumb the reason for this, I get to a foggy murk. That’s an eyebrow raiser, you know?

      I’m sorry you got grease on your shirt, but thank you for telling us that! (I hope it comes out… hate it when that happens!) But you’re absolutely right – it could have been worse. “Worst case scenario” is one of my often-used phrases, because I want to have an idea of what could be the end result of an action, to weigh the pros and cons of it.

      Thank you most of all for the reminder to be intentional about noticing the silver linings, like not getting grease in your eye. I’ll try to take that advice to heart, because it has a broad application, to lots of things in life, not just fitting comfortably in my own skin.


  2. Lisa Clarke
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 08:53:28

    I think you hit the nail on the head. We not only want our outsides to be “attractive” in whatever way is socially acceptable, but we want our outsides to also effectively express something about our insides – maybe even something we don’t truly *believe* about ourselves, but want others to accept.

    That is a lot to ask of a pair of pants 🙂

    Not that I don’t try… I have no idea what the answer is, but I definitely get where you are coming from, because I go through the same thing every time I get dressed. I don’t want my clothes to make me look thin, as much as I want them to make me look effervescent, welcoming, and fun to be with (all qualities I am not sure I even possess!)

    So,yeah, I know of which you speak 🙂


    • Charlene
      Aug 29, 2011 @ 10:23:01

      Hahahha, yes, that definitely IS a lot to ask of a pair of pants! (That gave me a good guffaw!)

      I hear you about feeling that way every time you get dressed. But I gotta say… I was surprised that you felt that way about yourself (“qualities I am not sure I even possess!”) I would never have thought that of you. I’ve always been drawn to you, in fact – I think you’re sweet, cute, and adorable. Both inside AND outside. I seriously mean that. You resonate effervescence, fun, and welcome, at least from what I can read on your blog. So if you’re faking it, you’re doing a darn good job of it.


      • Lisa Clarke
        Aug 30, 2011 @ 11:51:52

        Well, thank you!

        But I think that’s exactly what I like about the virtual world – if I feel tongue-tied, or like my words are tripping over each other, I just edit myself before pressing “publish.” It’s sooooo much harder to do that in Real Life ™ I don’t possess nearly the self-confidence in face-to-face communication!

        I suppose the solution is to just remember what I like about “online me” and try to include more of that in “offline me.” Easier said than done, of course.

  3. Sue Castle
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 09:23:22

    Hmmm, yep that opens up a whole can of worms, doesn’t it? I feel the same way and I’ll go for awhile being comfortable with who I am and then I’ll catch a glimpse of myself in a glass door or in a photo and it all comes crashing down around my head. I don’t want to be model skinny (I’m way too short and have always been too curvy to be a model, LOL). But I’d like to be acceptable. I remember a time when I weighed MUCH less than now and was going to my daughter’s track meet and one of her track mates said, “Wow, who’s that whale coming across the field?” I can’t remember how I found out about that, surely she didn’t tell me, but she must have 😦 That still hurts and I look much worse now. I know the thoughts that go through my head when I see extremely heavy people (and you are not extreme by any means, but right now I am) and then think about that saying about the “pot calling the kettle black” and wonder, do I look like that to other people? Are they judging me by just my fat and appearance without knowing anything about my life, thoughts, emotions and struggle? I’ve almost always been accepted and was thin and could eat anything (and as much as I wanted. In fact, I was a failure to thrive baby and kid and had food forced on me and was constantly being tempted to eat) until I was 24 years old, and I’ve been fighting this battle ever since. I’m a comfort eater, and a worry eater and I’ve had lots to worry about for the past 32 years. I have Fibromyalgia and am often in too much pain to exercise. It’s a vicious circle, because the worse I feel about myself the more I eat to comfort myself (and if that’s not crazy and self defeating I don’t know what is). I don’t know the answer, but I do understand and I’m with you in the struggle.


    • Charlene
      Aug 29, 2011 @ 10:41:39

      Catching a glimpse of ourselves in glass doors and photos… wow, I can so relate to the feelings there. You think to yourself… “do I REALLY look like that?” And then we just judge ourselves weighed and found wanting. We use the same measuring rod that the girl at the track meet used. And the unfairness of it all is that those reflections in glass doors are horribly distorted. Plus, we have no objectivity, either We’re too close to it emotionally. So if we have a tendency to judge ourselves harshly, it just reinforces a sense of defeat. I hate that. All kinds of hate.

      And I don’t like the idea that thin people throw at you: as if it’s as simple as just going to Weight Watchers and dropping the pounds. Ok yes, that does help obviously. But even WW only barely scratches the surface of the emotional issues you raised: eating for comfort and eating when stressed. How many times I’ve been in a WW meeting and seen women raise their hands to having done the yo-yo thing, losing the weight and then putting it back on, even more than they had before. It’s cyclical and frustrating. But it happens because the root issues behind the eating haven’t been addressed.

      Maybe the solution really is a one-two approach: getting therapy for the issues, while also working on developing better eating habits. Probably also getting testing done for physical limitations too, like perhaps hormone imbalances or thyroid problems.


  4. Sue Castle
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 09:28:29

    Your question, “Am I paying attention to camouflaging my fat as an attempt to camouflage my insecurities?” really resonates with me, by the way. Also as Lisa pointed out “all qualities I’m not sure I even possess”. But I’m not sure if the weight reflects the insecurity or the insecurity reflects the weight, and we’re back to the chicken and egg question. Smiles and hugs


  5. Kelly
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 19:09:27

    I hear you! Now… keep in mind that although I think you are very approachable and put together (I’ve been comfortable like sisters with you from day one), I know it’s how we perceive ourself that is at issue here.

    I know I don’t feel as comfortable in some clothes as others. Not how they ‘fit’ but how I THINK I look in them. I also find that I feel most comfortable when I’m dressed for business as opposed to going to run errands or going to dinner. Not that I don’t dress nice for all those occasions (people who go to WM or McDonalds looking like they just crawled out of bed really irritate me. Where is their self-worth?). But I find when I’m dressed for business my posture improves and I feel ‘nice’. I also don’t think I acknowledge my weight as much when I’m dressed ‘for success’.

    On the other hand, I’m looking forward to dropping some pounds and being ‘healthier’, so I’ll hopefully feel ‘comfortable’ in whatever I wear. And if I can get the wolf-whistles back, that’s a bonus 😉


    • Charlene
      Aug 30, 2011 @ 08:46:41

      C’mere Kels, I’ll wolf whistle at ya…. 😀

      I completely agree about the ‘dress for success’ making a difference. Work clothes make a work state of mind, and we all know more is accomplished if we dress when we work from home, rather than staying in our pajamas. Been there, tested that.

      People who go out dressed like they just crawled out of bed… Yeah, probably self-worth is likely an issue. Though some of it might be sub-cultural. Skin-tight t-shirts and sprayed-on stretch pants on a woman who is easily 100 lbs overweight could stem from self-worth issues, but it could also be what her sub-culture says is sex appeal. Thirdly, the larger you are, the more expensive the clothes, and the harder to find ones that fit without looking like they’re tattooed on. It’s a vicious cycle, made worse by a limited budget. It’s very hard to find nice clothes for bigger women, especially when you can only afford to shop at Goodwill. I can find things there, but it’s very hit-and-miss. Mostly miss.

      But it could also be a lack of information (giving them the benefit of the doubt here). Since having a sense of style isn’t something that comes naturally to most people, I think they see something on a rack or in a magazine or on a friend, and think it’s gonna work for them, too. Usually doesn’t.


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