I am totally disappointing my feminist-self.
For years and years, I struggled with my body image — in high school, I actually used to fake sick to skip school just so that I could spend the day popping in different aerobics tapes into the VCR in my parents’ basement. I threw on my black and hot pink spandex, pulled my hair into a side-ponytail, and anticipated all of the 2-second cues before each move with Jane Fonda, Gilad, and Kathy Smith. On weekends, I ran miles and miles up to the local track and back again. I laid on the living room floor, listening to songs on my yellow, Sony, waterproof Walkman, and tuning out the world as I finished Side A doing nothing but crunches.
College was much of the same. I dated athletic men who made me feel like they only wanted to be with a woman who had an athletic body. So, I continued the obsession. And, compulsion.
Then, in my senior year of college, I began dating a man — now, husband — who fell in love with how smart I was, how well I sang, and the way my confidence stopped a room. He saw me through my own destructive behavior, my own defeating thoughts, and helped me appreciate the power I had to turn things around. He never once made me feel that I needed to be a certain weight or a certain type of body. And, after carrying and delivering our first child, I began to believe that my body had power, too. The year I was pregnant with our first child was the year I stopped hating, viciously, how I looked. And, two years later, when that little girl’s body began to betray her with cancer, I knew that I needed to fully come to terms with how my own body was designed to look, behave, and feel. She needed me. She needed to hear that our bodies are sometimes judged by others, but that we must be strong and help others be strong, too.
But, old habits are hard to break. For the majority of my life, I’ve hated my body. And, slowly I’ve been chipping away at that wall. With messages all around us, still surrounding us, there are days when it just isn’t easy. Lately, I’ve been thinking about going back into the operating room to have a revision done on my reconstruction. Bras just don’t fit me at all, my breasts just look so out of proportion to the rest of my body, and I’ve become very self-conscious about how they look. The revision process is actually easy; but, I find myself fantasizing about having liposuction to reduce the fat around my middle, or a gastric bypass to finally help me in a way that diet and exercise just aren’t doing. For the past few weeks, I’ve been obsessing about a thinner — a better — version of me.
“Liza, why is there a half-cut lemon and a tin of cayenne pepper doing on the counter?” asked a confused husband when he walked in the door. Rightfully so.
Yes, yes, friends. I admit…. if the Lemon-Pepper-Water diet worked for Beyonce, then it was worth a try for me, too. Shit, girlfriend lost 20 pounds in like two weeks! I have a fancy dinner, a rock show, my college reunion, and summer bathing suit season coming up! My obsession was turning into action.
But, unfortunately (or, thankfully?), I just can’t bring myself to behave the way I used to. By 10am, when I had already had my first 32 ounces of Lemon-Pepper-Water, I realized how stupid this all was. Sat down. Had a talk with myself (I was home on a vacation day, so it wasn’t all that weird to be talking to myself). And, laughed at the absurdity. Then, I grabbed a bagel, smiled, and went about my day being productive.
It was today when I realized that my mind might actually be changing. That, finally, after nearly 10 years since the day I got pregnant, and 10 years of telling myself that I’m good, I’m smart, and I’m strong, I might actually be believing it.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t try to hide my stomach rolls when I sit down in a chair. Doesn’t mean I don’t do the “skinny arm” pose when I take pictures or make sure that people shoot me from “my good side.” Oh, yea. I’m not giving that stuff up! But, it does mean that a part of me is letting go of the hatred, the meanness, and the belief that “If I were just 10 pounds lighter, I’d be a better person.”
My body isn’t perfect. Neither is my mind.
But, like any good work of art, it’s definitely going through some revision.
Peace, love, and constantly editing,