Body Insecurity: The Holiday Edition
It’s that time of year again! The holiday season has come around, and with it the five or so relatives you hear saying, “I’m really going to cut back this year so I can look good for the Christmas party.” Getting together with family means eating, but also trying to impress your relatives and hunt for comments like, “You look so nice! Have you lost weight?” And so the holiday round of, “Oh god, I need to hit the gym more” hits you over the head.
It’s not that I’m really trying to impress anyone this year, or even that I think I ate too much at Thanksgiving. It’s the Christmas shopping that is starting to get to me. Picking out clothes for someone else to give to me is great for a number of reasons, but this year it’s starting to drag. I see all of these really cute dresses, begging me to spend more money than I should, and think, “Well maybe….” and then I’m stopped in my tracks. I can’t buy this dress. Why would I ever think I could actually wear something like that? My body looks NOTHING like that model’s, and my hair could never pull off something so glamorous. It’s too tight, it would show my muffin top and my back fat (which, who knew that could even be a problem?), and my legs are not that long. My boobs could never squeeze into that, my stomach would show up like a giant neon sign, I have no waist whatsoever, and my arms will never be that toned. So what do I do? I tell myself I must find a more flattering style. Only you know what’s in style? Bodycon dresses, shift dresses, backless, strapless, cut-outs and short short short. Nothing for me. So instead I opt for a modest sweater and sigh at what could have been.
I used to be skinny. Not skinny, skinny, but skinny enough. I’ve always had a bit on cushion on my stomach, but it would hide under sort-of loose shirts and would stay sucked in whenever I’d wear anything else. I was able to wear size four or six, and I felt like I was passing in the golden crowd of girls who could always find their size and wear trendy things. But then I went to college, and suddenly I kept gaining more and more weight. My boobs added on a whole other cup size, my hips started to show, and suddenly I was kind of curvy. While I was sort of concerned, I was also okay with this. It was nice to feel like I looked more grown-up than I did before, like I could actually push out a baby if I wanted to or something. But then fat showed up in the weird places, like my sides and back, not to mention under that strange place in your armpits that emerges between your bra and arm when your arms are at your side. (Here’s the visual aid: http://www.colormebrave.com/2014/04/get-rid-armpit-fat.html ) And then I couldn’t wear some of my
clothes because they didn’t fit or look good anymore. Shopping started to become less fun, because I had to find everything in a size or two up, and even then, it usually looked too big in some places and too small in others. While I knew before that the fashion world was unkind to anyone who didn’t fit into their mold, I had never realized how sad and difficult it made finding clothes.
My self-esteem went down, naturally. And it’s been a struggle to regain it ever since. It doesn’t help to be constantly surrounded by a culture that praises thinness, or people who go along with it. It doesn’t help that my roommate is thin and beautiful (as with the rest of our friends), that my motivation to work out (or time to do it) has shrunk exponentially, or that I’m constantly reminded by adults that “The habits you make now will either help or hinder you later in life”. It does help, however, to have a boyfriend who loves me and my body, just how it is, and to have supportive friends and family.
I hate diets. I hate those little comments relatives make about your weight, because my body isn’t a decoration to be altered or shared in discussion. I want to look like me, but I also want to be healthy, and what’s really unhealthy is my attitude about this weight I’ve gained. I don’t know what to do, because I don’t have all this extra time to work out and I hate salads. (A LOT). Plus I don’t have tons of money to spend on healthy alternatives to cheap meals.
It’s a vicious cycle of hating your body, desperately wanting to change it, and wishing you could just find some peace with it. And unfortunately, most women are stuck in this cycle for a long, long time.
All I want for Christmas is to stop wishing I was thinner and to stop comparing myself to other people. I want to start appreciating my body more and start taking care of it more, and most of all I want to do it in a killer dress that knocks the socks off my boyfriend.