Worth versus Weight

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I remember very clearly the first time I became acutely aware of everything wrong with my body. I was in second grade carpooling to school with a neighbor. She hopped in the van, rolled her eyes and said with exasperation, “UGH, I hate how the fat pools out under my thighs when I sit down. Don’t you?” I’d truly never thought about it before. I thought about sunburns in the summer and bad shoes causing blisters, and that was about as far as my body consciousness went. To be fair, I had an older brother and we were slightly more concerned about defeating Bowzer than making sure my thighs weren’t touching. Perhaps girls with big sisters were exposed to this earlier.

But sitting there next to her that morning, suddenly restless atop my own pool of fat, I decided that, yes, I did hate my thighs. And so began a lifelong battle of worth versus weight.

I hid myself most of the time. Baggy t-shirts and stretchy leggings. Oversized overalls and one-piece bathing suits well into middle school when all the other girls were in bikinis with their new boobs. I never vocalized my own dissatisfaction but I soaked everyone else’s up like an insecure sponge. Every problem someone had with their body, I applied to my own. Thighs too big. Boobs to small. Hair too frizzy. Butt too flat. Tummy too soft. It was never-ending.

With adulthood (and education and a strong yoga practice) came a new appreciation of and respect for my body as a powerful machine worthy of good food and exercise and love. But not before years of starvation, compulsive exercise and all around disordered behavior.

Things are better now. I’m not always nice to myself, but I am hyper-cautious to keep those thoughts to myself. Because the second I vocalize my own insecurities, I run the risk of laying that burden on someone who would otherwise perhaps not have to bear it. And that’s a responsibility I take seriously.

I run in the fitness industry now. And while this biz has its fair share of warm fuzzies and body love and girl power, it is also infected with a viral spread of self-loathing. You hear it in the locker rooms and in the lobbies, on the mats under their breath: I hate my [insert body part here].

It breaks my heart to hear people talk like this, not only because of the havoc they’re wreaking on their own psyche but because of where else those powerful words might land–on the ears of an otherwise confident child or on the heart of an already burdened and insecure soul.

It has taken me a lifetime to decide that this hate doesn’t have to be my own. And I would encourage you to affirm that it isn’t yours either.

22 thoughts on “Worth versus Weight

  1. This is beautiful, Katie. I had a baby girl in November, and it would kill me if she ever thought of herself as anything less than beautiful. I realize that my words and self-perception must convey that her mama loves herself just as much. It’s a huge responsibility!

  2. I have said it before, “your mother is your first mirror” and I have NEVER seen anything but perfection. Another thing that I have uttered, “mom is always right”…………………just ask Dad! Love you.

  3. “Because the second I vocalize my own insecurities, I run the risk of laying that burden on someone who would otherwise perhaps not have to bear it. And that’s a responsibility I take seriously.”

    THIS. Times a million.

  4. I work in the photography industry and you don’t want to know how many times I hear moms telling their little girl to suck it in. Breaks my heart.

  5. Beautiful! And bravo. I too have suffered with body image issues and every eating disorder in the book. Instill struggle but through yoga I also know that my body is my temple (although of course I sometimes forget). Thank you!!!

  6. This is so well said! And I couldn’t agree or relate to this more. “…I soaked everyone else’s up like an insecure sponge.” This is so true. And I make it a rule in life to NOT engage in negative self-talk, especially when I’m around others. And I always try to change the subject if a friend starts in on herself. I refuse to reciprocate. The sad thing is, it happens quite often.

  7. This couldn’t be a more timely post for me to read. After years of punishing myself for just never being able to get as small as I “should,” I’m fighting my way into a season of appreciation and gratitude for my body. I keep repeating to myself the the mountains never wake up and decide that they need to be the ocean and work to flatten out their peaks; therefore, I should never wake up and demand to be something I wasn’t created to be. This post was beautiful. Thank you.

  8. It’s so interesting to hear when people first became even aware of their body/weight. I didn’t think twice about my body, food, or even health until high school. I credit my mom for that – we were still healthy/normal as kids, but it was just never an issue or main priority in life. Honestly, as much as I think it’s important to be healthy, it disturbs me a little bit how soon society is telling kids to “be active! eat healthy!” – even if it’s with good intentions. I’m probably being ignorant for saying this, but maybe it’s an instance where ignorance is bliss…

  9. Love this, Katie!!! Thanks for sharing. And, now totally disregard my email from yesterday. I think this is the answer I needed. Oh, and no more reading blogs that make me feel bad about myself in some form or fashion! Hope to see you around the studio soon!

  10. You are right, it is LEARNED… it has to be. I need to try and un-learn it and your words will inspire me “this hate is not my own.”

  11. Wow. This really touched me because I remember, as a young girl, hating the “fat” that pooled out under my thighs when I sat down. Warm months at school were kind of hellish, because I was extremely aware of my “pools of fat” that were exposed in my shorts… there’s something wrong when a seven year old hates her thighs with such fervor.

    “It breaks my heart to hear people talk like this, not only because of the havoc they’re wreaking on their own psyche but because of where else those powerful words might land–on the ears of an otherwise confident child or on the heart of an already burdened and insecure soul.”

    This is so true. For years, I was too absorbed with my own hatred of my body to realize that my negative self talk could negatively impact others. I’ll be thinking about this all day today. Thanks for this post.

  12. This is everything. Thaaaaaank you.

    And I couldn’t agree more with your mom: I see nothing but perfection. (I’m working on getting to that perspective about my own body.)

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