Much like self love, self-loathing doesn’t begin overnight. While I can’t pinpoint the very first time I ever thought about how my rear end looked in my jeans, I can remember the many comments I’ve heard over the years about how “un-wantable” I was.
I’ve never been the itty bitty skinny girl. In high school, my jean size was a 7. My bra size was a 34C. Imagine the terror of trying to find a strapless bra to go under my homecoming gown. Once I actually couldn’t and ended up wearing a homemade duct tape “bra” to support the girls (the welts remained for at least a day or two… duct tape should not be used for wax either). I rarely wore makeup, and my basic wardrobe was jeans, sneakers and t-shirts (much like what I wear now). I wasn’t concerned that I didn’t look “pretty” like the other girls. I was given more than my fair share of attention anyway.
It wasn’t until after high school that it really hit me I wasn’t society’s definition of beautiful. My boyfriend at the time lived about 3 hours away and most of my weekends were filled with driving back and forth. A lot of fast food, coffee and car rides later, I gave up that relationship along with my high school body. I wasn’t comfortable in my skin, but I still thought I was pretty enough. The next several boyfriends on the other hand, weren’t as kind.
“Are you really going to eat that cookie?”
“I thought you were starting your diet today?”
“Your jeans would fit better if you’d lose the muffin top.”
“I’d be more attracted to you if you were skinny.”
By 22, I weighed over 200 lbs. It wasn’t until a doctor told me I’d need to lose weight if I ever wanted a healthy pregnancy that I actually realized how bad I felt. I loathed how I looked. Half the time I refused to look in the mirror. Thankfully for me, the selfie craze hadn’t started yet. I became obsessed with the scale, what size my clothes were. I worked out daily, cut calories, and hardly splurged. I managed to drop almost 50 lbs in less than a year. Shortly after my 24th birthday, my first love bug was born. I maintained my weight for the most part between kids, using weight watchers, stress (or what my friends refer to as the “divorce diet,” aka very little foods and plenty of alcohol) and exercise.
At my lowest, I was 125lbs. Everyone I knew thought I was sickly. I looked fantastic (heck I could fit into a juniors size 5 jeans!) but I didn’t feel great. I rarely had enough energy to keep up my lifestyle and on occasion would spend over half a day in bed when my love bug was with her dad. Whether it was mild depression or simply a crummy diet, I knew something had to change. I stopped buying processed foods, started shopping the farmers markets and avoided eating out too often. I looked good, I felt good and I was able to function without a problem.
Now that “love bug the second edition” arrived, everything changed again. I still have a baby bump (Thanks to Jennifer Garner for making this acceptable), my jeans are still just a bit too tight in the middle, and I wear tops that are slightly too large to hide my “extra insulation”. But I find myself cooking on Sunday mornings for my kids. Summer is coming so we can get out and be active. Yes, I’m still obsessed with the scale (my weight hovers around 160lbs at 5’6”) and I still have days where I have nothing to wear.
That’s not what matters anymore. What matters now is the tiny little arms that grab my neck, or the slightly larger pair that wrap around my waist.
I still don’t wear makeup very often. Some days, I don’t get out of my yoga pants. But now there’s a little voice that echoes “Mama you’re beautiful” when she catches me looking in the mirror. And I’m finally learning to believe it.