I am 8.
I’m waiting for my mom in the Lamont’s dressing room. I hear the hum of florescent bulbs. I am only in underwear in front of the full length mirror. My reflection blurs as tears fill my eyes.
I hear her asking the salesperson for a larger size shirt and skirt.
“Those are the largest sizes in the children’s section. You’ll have to try the junior’s section. I don’t know if we have anything else that will fit her here.”
I want to melt into the burgundy carpet. Back to school shopping brings awareness of my shape and form. I am round and soft and curved. My body is one more way that I am different than the other girls my age.
My mom returns with different options. A plaid skirt.
“An all over pattern is slimming.”
A button down shirt.
“This color brings out the blue of your eyes.”
As she slips the sweater over my head, “You have such thick, gorgeous hair.”
Her kind words sting. I feel I’m not the daughter she wants. Strangers compliment my mother’s appearance where ever we are. When they look at me beside her, I see their disbelief. She is beautiful in a head turning way that I will never be.
My mom is spending money we don’t have to try to help me feel better. I’ll attempt to blend in with the other kids at school. It will never work. I can camouflage my body, but not my mind.
I weigh 86 pounds.
I am 16.
I walk to the cadence of my favorite poem as I filter between classmates in the high school hallways. They are the the words that I hear in my mind when I see him marvel at my naked form as he touches me.
Phenomenal WomanPretty women wonder where my secret lies.I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s sizeBut when I start to tell them,They think I’m telling lies.I say,It’s in the reach of my arms,The span of my hips,The stride of my step,The curl of my lips.I’m a womanPhenomenally.Phenomenal woman,That’s me.
He tells me he loves me. He loves my body. He loves me for who I am, and not just how I make him feel. Me and my body. He writes me poetry. He has made me a woman. I am becoming more comfortable in my skin. I feel appreciated, understood. I am phenomenal.
I weigh 143 lbs.
I am 23.
It’s 3:23 am, and the buzz from drinks he served me during his bar-tending shift have worn off. He’s hunched over at the foot of the bed. His bent knees face the wood paneled wall. Naked like me, but his skin is adorned with tattoos. I watch the wolf near his bicep howl at the moon.
How much effort would it take to move my body from the bed to the kitchen? If I stand too quickly, the room will start spinning again. His form barricades the narrow path to the pineapple rum and pint glass in the freezer. Did I finish the orange juice yet? I’ll drink it straight if I need to.
His head is buried in his hands. And his voice is muffled. “I can’t tell you what’s bothering me. I don’t want to hurt you, Jen.”
After spending a total of 359 days with him, I anticipate what my fiance will say. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to feel more pain. I need to be numb.
I know why he stopped. I knew why he withdrew. His closed eyes can’t hide the truth.
“Just tell me. Say it.” Maybe I’m wrong.
“I can’t do this anymore. I love you. I’m just not attracted to you. I’m sorry.”
When I leave him, after sobbing on the floor of the shower, less than an hour later, I know that it is over. Forever. I will never marry a man who only sees my exterior. This one didn’t understand the 30 pounds, I gained during our time together, were a shield.
I have never weighed this much before. My soul is heavier than my body. I would rather be alone than lonely with him.
I weigh 183 pounds.
I am 27.
It’s our wedding night. He’s never seen me naked. I am afraid to disappoint him. Real bodies aren’t airbrushed. Mine is the only naked body he ever wants to see again. He’s too excited to notice that I’m nervous.
I weigh 163 pounds.
I wait for my husband to change his mind.
I don’t believe he could love me forever. I gain 35 lbs in 3 months. I share my body, but hold back part of who I am. Being naked has equaled rejection, and that’s what I expect, though it doesn’t come. I cry sometimes after we have sex. I don’t understand why he loves me.
I weigh 198 pounds.
He doesn’t leave, and tells me that I am beautiful more often. He believes it, but I’m not convinced. He says my beauty is in my mind, my energy, and my passion. He loves my deep blue eyes.
I wait for his inevitable rejection.
I am 30.
After hospital bed rest for 9 weeks, I will have a scheduled c-section for our triplets next Wednesday. He has to guide my steps to the shower. It is painful to move as I sit on the shower stool washing my hair. It turns him on as he watches me. He sees my naked body and loves it in its expanded state carrying life. I avoid mirrors and decline most pictures.
I weigh 273 lbs.
I am 39.
When I look at my naked body, I see stretch marks and loose skin.
My husband tells me I’m beautiful.
I see breasts that sag. I see cellulite and spider veins. I see wrinkles, scars, lines and gray hair.
He sees someone who he is more physically and mentally attracted to than he was over a decade ago.
I still avoid mirrors, because I don’t like what I see.
I see an overweight 8 year old girl who comforts herself with food.
I see a 23 year old with empty eyes who numbs herself with alcohol.
I do not marvel at my physical strength or ability.
I have lost 35 pounds.
I am almost at my ideal weight again, but I carry so much pain I don’t know how to lose.
The shifting numbers on a scale will never make me love myself more.
My 23rd fear is reaching my ideal weight, because every time I do, I can no longer use my weight as an excuse for my rejection or emotional distance.
I am vulnerable. Being vulnerable means that my soul is naked and I can get hurt.
People notice me more. When I am fat, I am invisible.
Spending so much time and effort on my exterior makes me feel hollow inside. Too much attention makes me feel the need to cover up. Retreat. Hide myself.
Fat and smart are okay. Smart and funny is acceptable. Somehow, beautiful, funny and smart isn’t a good combination.
Thin is beautiful, and I’m not beautiful.
It’s uncomfortable to be thinner. Not in the same way my knees hurt walking up the stairs, or lungs strain after walking a short distance.
Being thin is uncomfortable to my soul.
I’ve said that I will be happier when I’m thinner, and I am not. I’ve delayed something that I don’t understand how to attain.
Changing my body doesn’t change the way that I see myself, and that’s the hardest part of weight loss, and why I sabotage with gain.
Underneath the pounds, I’m still me.
The numbers shifting on a scale will never change that. In every picture of my past self, I see two numbers. How old I am, and how much I weigh.
Someday, I want to look in the mirror, or at a picture, and just see Jen.
I want to love being naked.
I weigh 149 pounds.
Genealogy Jen’s Challenge of the week – Be kind to your body. It’s the only one you’ve got. Drink more water. Go for a walk or run outside. Make a healthy choice for your next meal. Make I’m afraid of being naked bath salts to spend more time naked .
Bonus Points – Stand naked in front of a mirror and say 10 things that you love about your physical body. Add 3 more things each time you start to criticize yourself. Self loathing is self destructive.