I really like Tina Fey - I think she's done tremendous things for women in comedy. And I love her view on body image, because I feel that it's so spot on regarding women in our culture. With all this talk about women's birth control and a recent article by Katie Bolick in the Atlantic that I had a hard time reading, I've been thinking a lot about body image, dating, and settling down.
I've struggled with my own body image for my entire conscious life, and I have never been satisfied. The earliest memories I have of this are of the fourth grade when school kids start to get mean. I have always had a little stomach pooch, and one day some of the girls in my class informed me that I looked pregnant. As a little kid who didn't know how to distance my emotions from cruel words like that, I started to dislike the way I looked and realized that looks mattered. I remember struggling trying to be cool in junior high by wearing make up - and failing (side note: never wear purple eyeshadow as eyeliner). In high school, I tried to limit the amount of food I ate to be skinner - but I got grumpy and couldn't handle always being hungry. I tried to exercise, but failed this too since I didn't realize my asthma limited my athletic endeavors. I dreamed of being able to wear heels, a slinky skirt and some sexy top to amaze my friends and snag a guy - and as most high schoolers, hated myself for what I actually was.
But then came college, and college was a different world - it didn't seem to matter. I wore my hair down and lived in a t-shirt and jeans. I found a guy to date, and things seemed alright. But the relationship and my confidence didn't last, and with tremendous stress, becoming 21, and not taking care of myself as a senior - I gained a bit of weight. I hated myself for it, thought I was unable to attract a guy because of it, and the only way out seemed to do a lot of cardio. Years went by like this, until - magically - I seemed to drop some weight at the beginning of graduate school. My confidence built up again, and I managed to go on a date or two. But, once again with stress and life, this too didn't last.
Coming to Iowa, many of my habits have radically changed. I don't eat out much at all. I get a healthy amount of sleep every night. I walk most places. I eat less (I think this is due to sleeping more and paying better attention to what I do eat). I eat more vegetables. And most of all, I drink a lot less - maybe one drink, once a week. And I've lost a lot of weight, and I feel amazing. I can look at myself in the mirror at any point in time, and I really like what I see.
The point, however, is not that I've lost weight and that I like this about myself. It's what I do with this. And for me, the most important takeaway is how much I've related the size of my body with my ability to attract a guy. Did you notice that in my narrative? And now that I find myself at my optimal confidence building size, I am still quite single. I now have more confidence to move forward and date (helpful now that I'm in a rural town, right?), but I've really begun to separate my ability to attract guys from my weight. My emotional health was reflected in my body image - and I've spent several years severely emotionally unhealthy. With my 'Life Changing' time spent truly discovering myself, I now understand so much more about myself, what I want and what life means to me. In fact, I can't imagine anyone attempting to date me successfully before I began my self-discovery and personal-growth ventures. Emotional health is vastly important to health and well being in life and relationships, I've found.
I don't speak of my reasons behind this emotional health and well-being much, but take it as this - I started to see a counselor in 2010 to deal with a lot of heavy emotions I didn't understand. One thing led to another, and I've found myself a completely different person in so many wonderful ways. The journey has been difficult and it's very much far from over, but a small part of this journey has helped me realize that my body isn't everything. I like to be the weight I am right now, and it helps boost my confidence and support the emotional change I'm experiencing. But it's really about me, and learning to love myself, that really matters.
I wrote this poem last night to reflect the 'Life Changing' of 2010 - and hopefully, it makes sense to you.
"Forward flung, life came full force
and crashing, downward, landed
Upon a life I do not know, and never really asked for
But light was life, and life was lit, and I could see what really made it
And pain, I saw, inside me hid, and shut those doors I needed
But pain, it hurts, to feel the surge
of years of bottled anger
and pain, with sadness soon to follow, of things - a past, unmended."
HOLY SHIT, you just read some Christy Poetry. Consider yourself lucky. I have never been comfortable enough to share my 'poetry' with other people. This poem may not be very good or in its final state, but regardless - very few have read what I have wrote, and never before would I be okay bearing my soul like this. Maybe I was inspired by the Poetry Slam I attended last night? Or maybe, with all this other introspection, I have nothing else to lose? It does not matter - I must continue to go forth now and conquer because I feel unstoppable.