a Las Vegas vacation
It's true that Carter always tells me I am the perfect size. I don't believe him. He tells me I don't need to lose any weight and I still don't believe him. At first, I thought he was lying to keep me happy. When he convinced me that, in fact, he really believes it, I thought, "How can he not see what I see?" Cognitively, I know overall health should be the goal rather than losing weight; I even strive for it by exercising and eating moderately. And yet, I don't really believe it.
I never thought I had body image issues until I married Carter. I thought I was normal. I mean, I wasn't extreme dieting or throwing up in bathroom. Ultimately, the problem is that I am normal. When I think about where this 'normal' mode of thinking came from, I think about the girl in high school who only drank water at lunch to lose a few pounds, the middle school acquaintance mentioning that she liked lying on her back because it flattens her stomach, or the college neighbor who said all her problems would go away if she were skinny. Of course none of those girls were overweight, in fact they all looked just like me. Cue internalization.
People like to blame body image issues on Photoshop and Barbie but I played with and stopped playing with Barbie long before I thought about what I looked like. For all I knew she looked just like me. I didn't even realize people could visually tell I was a different race until middle school. And I started feeling fat long before Photoshop and the Internet were a thing. I think the fact I have several explicit memories of girls I knew talking about their body speaks volumes as to how society really perpetuates body image issues. Reading this letter to a mother about body image helped me understand it even more.
And so I guess this is a call to all girls to change, if not the way we think about our bodies, then the way we talk about our bodies. If all mothers and sisters and friends talked about the things they liked about their bodies instead of the things they didn't like, we could change an entire generation. Of all the things I want to give my baby, a healthy body image is a definite priority.
poolside, Las Vegas