Thursday, July 31, 2014

On Body Image

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I have never been a small person. I was born average and proceeded to be off the charts the rest of my life. I was 5 feet tall by the end of the 4th grade. I was 5'11" by the time I was 14. I have never been small.

At age 14, I was 5'11" and weighed 145 pounds. I was a size 8 and my hip bones stuck out 2" from my body. My ribs stuck out so far from my stomach that when I woke up in the morning I somewhat resembled a greyhound. I had no ass to speak of. My breasts were barely there. I thought I was fat. No joke. I also had a BMI that was supposedly healthy for my weight- pretty much the last time that has ever been true.

Fast forward to now- 26 going on 27. I'm still 5' 11". I wear a size 12. I have a butt. I have breasts. I weigh 50 pounds more and I do not think I'm fat. Not even a little. I've got curves for days, and to be perfectly honest, I think I'm a total babe. Modesty is for jerks. 

Not only do I happen to think I look great, but I also feel healthy. I eat well. I practice self care. I even joined a gym recently, not to lose weight, but because my job is sedentary, my commute is now, too, and I want to keep feeling healthy. So. Yea.

I was recently lucky enough to have a coworker gift me some personal training sessions they weren't using. I'm a total novice when it comes to working out so I could really use the guidance. Well, my first time with this trainer, she busted out the scale, took my measurements (incorrectly, I may add. My waist is most certainly not 37". It's 32, thank you.), and "measured my body fat" with an electronic device that I assume is entirely inaccurate.

She then basically proceeded to tell me that I was fat. Not in so few words, but in terms such as "Your body fat percentage is way too high." (you know, according to some dumb electronic device). She asked me how much weight I wanted to lose and I told her that I didn't actually care about losing weight, and didn't want to weigh less than 190 because 190-195 is a really comfortable, easy to maintain weight for me. I also told her that I felt anything less than that would be hard to maintain and would really decrease my quality of life. She asked if I meant that I "just wanted to eat a lot of food." Seriously. I don't want to eat "a lot more food". I want to continue to eat the reasonable amount of food I already consume. I want to be able to not feel guilt over the things I eat. I want to not live at the gym. I want to not be obsessing over a measly 5 pounds that won't make me look ANY different. I value my mental health as much as my physical health and obsessing over my weight isn't going to do me any good.

So, personal trainer, fuck you. Not for making me sweat my ass off or for making me sore for three days, but for trying to tear apart a healthy body image that I've spent years building up, all for the sake of a few pounds.

Don't ever let anyone tell you what your body "should" look like. It's your body. It's your home. Love it and accept it, and treat it well. Your health is about the big picture, not just a number on the scale.


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  1. This post just makes me wanna fist pump, Becca! Good on you, a healthy body image is so important and such a wonderful thing to have. I've kinda done the same thing as you; I remember reading in some women's magazine at age 12 that if your thighs touch when you're standing up straight then you're too fat. I was a size 8 and there was no way that there was gonna be a gap between my thighs but I spent most of high school avoiding meals. Not fun. Then I got super sick for a few years and put on a lot of weight. Luckily, I found HAES and since then I've been getting back to a healthy body and trying not to care too much about what that body happens to look like. Anyway, great post and sorry for the long comment! ^___^

  2. oh my god. what an awful experience with that trainer. go you!!! I totally get what you mean about wanting to exercise to feel healthy NOT to maintain or lose some arbitrary weight ideal. I've been quite the exercise slob all my life, but recently realized that the reason I sometimes feel not so confident of my appearance is because I'm not taking care of it - which is all about health and feeling good and nothing to do with my weight, my lack of curves (hahaha) or what clothes I wear.

  3. you're brilliant! and she needs to do some serious soul searching--and a whole lot more listening.

  4. My mom, in addition to a full time job as a computer engineer, has taught exercise classes every week for over 20 years. Spin, aerobics, barbell, step, kickboxing and now she is yoga certified with 200 hours under her belt. She has had to study the science of the human body intensively to keep up with her certification. She would never approach someone in her class this way. Your trainer makes me sad and sick. To say bullshit things like "you just want to eat more" is the equivalent to spitting on your hamburger at Wendy's. Becca, you have the right attitude.

  5. Amen! I went through treatment for anorexia my freshman year of high school and had up and down weights until the end of my senior year when I finally found my healthy weight. My high school, and the high schools in my state, requires all students to have BMI testing done. Luckily, my parents were able to get me out of it because of my health history but I know what it did to other kids. The numbers they were given were never really accurate for them personally. Each person is different and the numbers don't take that into account. It makes me so angry that schools test students and literally tell them whether or not they are fat AND they don't even do it privately which makes kids compare themselves to others. Good for you for knowing what is healthy for YOU and not going by those stupid numbers.

  6. whoops this post made me cry at my very public desk at work, and i'm not ashamed at all. your body is brilliant and strong and talented and funny and sexy as fuck, just like the rest of you.

    i hope that trainer has someone at home that loves her body, just in case she's one who fights with her own. i want her to know that her approach is not okay, and it's not acceptable, but i also know that isn't your responsibility.

    i admire your bravery and strength to be able to know when someone is misinforming you and spouting really dangerous and damaging words as "fact." i hope i can find that amount of comfort and understanding in myself someday.

  7. Hell yeah! This might be the most well-written self validation I've seen yet. A trainer shouldn't be there to tell you what to think. They should be there to listen, and help you reach whatever your goals are. The idea of someone talking to you that way makes me so angry.

    And for the record, I think your size is about as perfect as it gets. And I wish I wrote this. This is an amazing post.

  8. Love all of this. I also got a "big girl" job kinda recently and all I do is sit on my butt all day, so I try to go to the gym when I can. It should be about health, not counting pounds :)

    Daydream Frenzy

  9. Becca, good for you! It can take years for people to accept their image and be happy with it, and it really is an unhealthy habit in our society to always judge and critique people on their body sizes. Like no ones size is and never will be the 'ideal' size. We all have different body shapes, different sizes and different everything. All it's doing is creating people to lead unhealthy lives. So good for you! I am quite short myself (5'2) and have a petite frame. I used to wish I was taller, but I am happy now with how I look. I think you have a fabulous body. And you are beautiful! Rock it girl!!

    Lauren xo
    Sophisticated In Style

  10. Good for you for not giving into the body fat percentage thing! As long as you're comfortable and know you're healthy, s'all good. I've never been overly concerned with body image because I would always rather be known for my strengths that I've worked at. Encouraging a positive body image and no shaming is always good, but I wish that we'd try to teach girls to look at what else they have to offer. I knew I could never live up to typical high beauty standards (objectively speaking for what "amazingly hot" usually looks like), but I was okay with that. Thanks for your thought-provoking post!


  11. As long as your happy and healthy who really cares what you weigh. People waste so much time worrying about their size, I think you have a brilliant attitude!!!!!

  12. This is perfect. I love it. Every bit. I think everyone struggles with body image from time to time, and more often than not it is because of something someone else has said, implied or done to make you feel bad. I actually had one of my bridesmaids (a month before my wedding) send me a text (that wasn't meant for me) saying that there was no way my lingerie sizes were accurate, because I couldn't possibly wear the same panty size as her. All hell broke lose in my head.... I feel mostly better now. But geez 2 + years later I am still working through that. Still trying to convince myself that it doesn't matter what she said, still trying to get myself back into a better fitness routine. It's terrible. Good for you! This is inspiring me this morning. I am going to say f you to her and get back into positive thinking. So much love- Alex

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

  13. That was pretty snotty of her to assume that you were there to lose weight. When I went to see a nutritionist she asked what my motivation for seeing her was, which is a much more respectable and polite thing to do!

  14. you go girl! I love this. I recently joined the gym to be healthier not to lose weight but I already feel this immense pressure to do so. I really am trying to get refocused on loving my body just as it is. Thanks for this :)!

  15. Becca, you ARE a total babe, inside and out! Hugs!

  16. I don't think you're fat at all! You look amazing and I don't think you need to lose a single pound. That personal trainer is insensitive and I felt horrible when I read your post. Its really great that you love yourself the way you do! Don't ever stop that. =)

  17. What an amazing post. Love you blog, your style and your self esteem. No way are you fat!

  18. A gym I joined a few years ago included a free session with a personal trainer and I remember it was the worst. First off I had that little machine pinch body fat reader done to me too. I also had the personal trainer tell me what I do at the gym for a work out wasn't going to get me any results when actually I lost 15 pounds just doing what I was doing and she also didnt make me stretch at all before the workout and it wasn't until I got home that I realized that so I was super sore the next day. Basically I take anything anyone else says about my body with a grain of salt. I love your post and you're beautiful and Im glad you know it and rock it!

  19. I'm finally getting a chance to read this, and I just want to tell you how much I hate that personal trainer, but absolutely love this post. Part of me wants to write out this long thing about how beautiful you are and how you look fantastic just the way you are, but you don't need me (or anyone else) to do that. Your confidence in yourself is so right and inspiring, and I hope that there are more people finding and reading this post who realize that it's okay to want to feel healthy, but it's also okay to not want your quality of life change. Food is good. Food is great. I'm going to go eat some junk food now because I can. (Although it is only 10 a.m. Smother something in syrup, maybe?)

  20. Becca, you ARE a total babe! And go you for having such a positive body image and for not letting her ruin that! I can't say that my body image is as good, but I find that when I exercise I tend to stress way lses about the numbers, cause exercising just makes you feel good. Very inspiring post!


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