I was talking with some friends the other day when something horrible hit me.
We were discussing at what weight we felt beautiful. I realized that I have never felt beautiful. There has never been a point in my life when I appreciated my body without reservations.
When I was a teen, I was very athletic and I had a tight muscular body. This was before the fit body was thought of as a beautiful thing, so I felt ugly and masculine.
In university, I gained a few pounds and got up to a size 8. I had some boobs and some hips, and it was such a drastic change for m that I felt fat. I was horrified to see the scale creep over 130 pounds. (Keep in mind I am 5'8"!)
Later, I got into some swimsuit modeling. Everyone else thought I looked beautiful but I spent time picking myself apart, scanning myself for cellulite and groaning in despair at the slight, natural, feminine protrusion of my belly.
Then I had a child. I gained 50 pounds and couldn't see the beauty of my body supporting the sweet little life within it. I felt huge, ungainly and unattractive.
After my daughter was born, I was dismayed at the changes in my body: the stretch marks, the saggy muscles, the loose skin. I couldn't fit into any of my old clothes and felt hideous and fat. In my personal life, I discovered that my husband at the time was cheating on me, which of course, made me loathe my body even more.
Later, after the birth of my second daughter, I dieted ferociously and got back down to my university size, an 8. I was sick, I was cranky and I was hungry. Everyone else told me I looked great but I hated the way my breasts looked like droopy empty pockets on my chest. Everything about me looked sunken and saggy. Again, I was miserable with my body.
So I gained it all back. And then I gained some more. I reached my personal maximum density of 212, and I definitely wasn't happy with my body then. I hated the largeness of myself, the way photos of me pointed out that I was truly larger than people I used to find quite heavy. I hated the multiple rolls of fat that traveled down my torso, the cellulite that dotted my legs and the fact that my calves were too big to fit into boots.
And again, I lost weight. Most recently I've been as low as 165, a size 10, and after 41 years of hating my body, I still picked myself apart.
I regained some of the weight and I am trying to take off the regained pounds. I want to remain at a healthy body weight. I look in the mirror and cringe at the muffin top that rolls over my waistband.
I actually don't know what it feels like to look in the mirror and feel beautiful. Why do I focus on the ugliness? Why can't I find some trace of beauty that makes me feel good? What would it feel like one day to love myself and see the good points and blur over the rest?
I can look back now and wish I looked the way I did when I was 17, or 21, or 33. But would it make me happy? It didn't when I was 17, 21, or 33. Would I feel beautiful? I didn't when I was 17, 21, or 33.
Is this just a personal thing? Have the rest of you felt beautiful? Can you look back on a time in your life when you were really, truly, happy with yourself? When you looked in the mirror and felt beautiful? I can't imagine what that must feel like.
I want to find out.