Monday, July 21, 2014

Why I Don't Hate My Body Anymore

For the first time since adolescence, I think I'm finally becoming comfortable with my body.

It happed like this.

Like so many females, I spent my pre-teen and teen years longing to be thinner.  Wanting my body to resemble the women's figures in magazines and movies, or at least to fit into a smaller pant size like the other girls.  Searching after that elusive "skinniness" every teen talks about.

I was on my high school's crew team, which is a very demanding sport.  I was fit, I was healthy, I could row like a beast (funny - that word used to be a high compliment for us back in the day, but I'm not sure that I'd like to be called a beast anymore!).  Even though my body could do so much, I cared only about the way it looked.  And it still didn't look skinny enough.

In college, I went for runs everyday: 3-6 miles long, sometimes more.  I ran two full marathons, two half marathons, and countless smaller races.  I ate more healthily than ever in my life.  Really, I was in the best shape I will probably ever be.  But even at my lowest adult weight - you know, that number that you would have to work really really hard to keep over the long term - I still didn't feel thin enough.  I just wanted to have a waist.  For my body to go in at the middle!  Maybe not the ideal hourglass proportions, but something that at least suggested that type of female figure. 

The skinniest I ever was.  And I think this photo just caught me at a good angle.
I've finally accepted that I never can have that.  To be specific: my frame just won't allow it.  My ribcage and my hipbones have barely an inch between them, and there's no room for me to ever have a waist, "unless", as Tom jokes "you have a couple ribs removed".  My legs, despite the fact that I barely get any exercise these days are still extremely muscular - more so than many men I know.  Some people might envy them, but they're just not very feminine.  It's how I'm made.

I debated posting a bathing suit picture for modesty reasons.  But I think it's relevant to the story I'm telling.

Marriage was the first step in helping me to accept the body I was given.  When you marry and begin to share your body and your life with another person, you come to see that the body has so much more value and meaning than just an appealing outer covering.  We have a body because we are meant to use it, to give it, to serve others with it.

Plus, my husband loved me and loved my body.  So it couldn't be completely terrible, right?

During pregnancy and childbirth, your body gets stretched to its limits (metaphorically, I mean...but actually in a literal sense as well!).  It wasn't until I had grown a tiny human inside of myself for nine months, used my body to painfully bring that human into the world, and then spent the next year further nurturing him with the milk that I was miraculously making that I really understood what I was capable of.  My body can do amazing and wonderful things!  This is what my body was made for - what everyone's body was made for: to allow them to carry out their vocation.  Whatever that may be. 

My vocation right now is to be a wife to my husband, to birth babies, and to do the work of raising them.  My vocation is not to have an hourglass figure. It's time to give myself permission to not have to be thin.  As long as I'm doing my part to keep my body reasonably healthy - i.e. able to perform my duties - I think I'm doing what I should.

I wanted a picture of me wearing a baby, but the only one I can find has me eating a cookie...right after I finished talking about being healthy!

I won't pretend to understand the deep mysteries of personhood....about the fact that we don't just have bodies, but that we are bodies.  But what I do know is that if my body is "me", it seems useless to keep going through life hating myself. 


  1. In my happy world my body is thin, tan, and athletic. In reality its short, pale, and VERY fluffy :). It has served its purpose miraculous though! I think I'll stick with it and all my perceived short comings. It's fulfilled its true purpose and I'm proud!

  2. What a great post. So many good points. I know that my marriage has been a blessing to me body-image wise. My husband knows and loves me (and my body) in all its various shapes and sizes. What a gift that is. As is the gift of appreciating the female body in its relation to our vocation as a mother. Beautiful. Thanks for writing this.

  3. Love this. And I think the bathing suit picture is great.

    So true about how being married to a good man kind of throws all that body image obsessing out the window. Growing up I always wanted more curves. Now it's all about function giving beauty to the form. The belly gets big and deflates. The breasts engorge and deflate, sometimes completely unevenly. The rear... just stays that way. Sometimes we laugh about this stuff but ultimately it makes absolutely no difference. Of course I know in my head it shouldn't matter, but to see that it doesn't change his response to me, is still mind-blowing sometimes. I am beautiful because *I* am beautiful. My butt's not part of that equation.

  4. I too have found that marriage has healed my body image. I have never struggled *horribly* with this ... maybe it sounds cheesy but my parents always told me how beautiful I was and I believed them all growing up. :-P I did have some self-consciousness in particular about being not all that well-endowed up top. (Right now not an issue while nursing twins ... ha.) But after getting married I think I was perfectly at peace with my body ... I had a post drafted about bodies and motherhood ... and then ... I gave birth to the twins. And I have to laugh ruefully at that post draft, because I definitely don't have that peace right now. For the first time I feel like I'm struggling *against* my body to an extent that it hampers my self-image. So ... we'll see. Hopefully peace will come over time.

  5. I think you look great...and you DO have a waist (in the bathing suit picture)'s maybe just a little bit higher than how people think of a waist as being..but you have one.. And, I LOVE this post. I posted something very similar myself yesterday..except I wasn't brave enough to put a bathing suit picture. :)