My disgust for my body came at a young age. I think I was about four-years-old sitting and staring at my fat rolls as I sat cross-legged on the ground. I remember wanting to cut off the fat with a pair of scissors. Now, as I look back at pictures of my little self . . . I was NOT fat by any means. But the constant bombardment of images on 1980s and early 1990s television and magazines forever ingrained in my mind of what a woman should look like plagued me for years, especially the teenage years.
It didn't help that one of my Dad's nicknames for me was "gorda," which means fat in Spanish. Thanks, Dad. I have finally rid myself of your voice in my head calling me fat. My Dad was pretty sedentary at the point in his life, except for being active in the garden. My Mom, on the other hand, was always active doing at home workouts or riding her 10-speed bike through Griffith Park. She never said anything negative about her body in front of me. She seemed to have a healthy self-image when it came to that. Thank you, Mom.
During my teenage years, I always felt larger than all of my friends; wider hips, bigger thighs, wider shoulders, etc. The fact that most of my friends were five-feet tall and I was closer to five-foot-five never played into that fact; of course I would be larger than them in some areas. I always hated some part of my body, either my hips, my stomach, my boobs, something. I was never happy and always wanted to change just that one part. As I have learned, when you workout and eat better, the whole package shrinks, not just the "problem" areas.
So, what I've learned is that marketing is geared to make us, women, feel less than. Like we need their products to be better, prettier, sexier, or more desirable. Don't like your lips -here's an injection or some product to get DSLs. Don't like your boobs - here's a push-up bra from Victoria's Secret. Want a fitter body - here's some Hydroxycut (ugh, that shit made me feel terrible and shaky all day.) Don't like your curly hair- here's a Brazilian blowout for a million dollars. Get my point? It's all marketing. We don't need it. We don't need your products. We are perfect just as we are. There is no magic pill, supplement, or bra that will fix your brain to accept yourself fully and completely. These people are marketing geniuses who want us to buy their junk because they want us to we feel inferior. And they've done a great job. After I stopped buying and reading Cosmo, Seventeen (many years ago,) Health, and Shape magazines, I began to notice I didn't feel like I needed all of these products!! Amazing, right? And most of those products are loaded with bad chemicals, anyway.
It has been a long, long journey to get where I am today in terms of my body acceptance. At 38 years old, I have fully and completely (most days) accepted my body for the way it is. I always judged my body by whether or not it had carried and nourished a child. I would say to myself, my body is ok for someone who had a baby, but I hadn't had a child. So, why do I look this way? It wasn't acceptable in my mind, to look how I looked, yet not have a child. I shouldn't have an excuse to be out of shape. I always felt I should be thinner or more fit. Now, I see that was a ridiculous standard to judge myself by. There are women with multiple children with rocking bodies. And women who have no children who are morbidly obese. It is what it is. I always thought that after I had a child I would be more fit, I would do my yoga teacher training, and I would do this and I would do that. Four years ago, I decided to stop putting my dreams and goals on hold based on whether or not I had a child. I've come to accept my body for how it is. For all the wonderful things it does each and every single day. It keeps me alive. It keeps my heart pumping blood to the rest of my body. It heals and repairs itself as I sleep. It fights against viruses and disease. These legs have walked me through this life and these hands have hurt people, yet they have also helped to heal people.
Since starting this wellness journey seven years ago, I may or may not have lost much weight (at my highest after my miscarriage at 165 pounds- lots of alcohol- see pics above; currently anywhere between 141-144 pounds.) My body may not look different on the outside, but I can feel a difference at my cellular level. I can look at myself in the mirror and be happy. This journey has allowed me to look at my body in a way that I hadn't been able to see it before. It is strong. It is healthy. It is miraculous. I have healed most of my body issues, but yes, they pop up sometimes, I'm not perfect. What has changed immensely is my perspective of my body. The body may not have changed significantly, but the mind has and that's what yoga has done for me. I stay active by doing things I enjoy. I love my asana practice whether it is Yin or a vigorous Vinyasa Flow. I enjoy snowshoeing in my new home state of New Hampshire. I hit the weights at least twice a week, sometimes three. And HIIT workouts are always a part of the fitness plan. And I've re-discovered my inner ballerina. Finding ways to move your body that you enjoy will ensure you keep active. And it keeps my brain from going into that negative space with my Dad's voice calling me "gorda."
This process has been just that. A process.