I’ve been every size from a zero to a ten. I’ve been every cup size from an A to a D. Maybe that doesn’t seem like a lot to a guy or to anyone, really, but it’s a range. It’s a range that literally shows; I honestly can’t tell the different between the stretch marks and the de-stretch marks, the ones you get from losing the weight that you gained, like a final, “fuck you, you still are not as healthy as before” from your body. Throughout all of it though, I’ve maintained a relatively ‘thin/used to be thin’ kind of appearance thank’s to my lanky 5’10” frame. I could never call myself ‘fat,’ but I did, over and over again until it just became a state of being. If I felt shitty, I felt fat, no matter if I weighed 110 or 168 pounds.
That’s the thing about my weight: I’ve never actively tried to be healthy and actually achieved ‘skinny.’ My skinniest moments were the most unhealthy and depressed ones of my life. When I graduated college, I had lost 40 pounds in less than four months. I wouldn’t let my boyfriend touch me and I cried every day. I was 128 pounds and my clothes had never fit better, honestly. My friends who hadn’t seen me in a while told me I looked amazing, chic, thin, awesome, etc., until I actually believed it. My closest friends asked me whether or not I was eating and sleeping. My dad forced me to eat half a sub in front of him after he surprised me and drove me home from my internship. Somehow, through every time I lost weight because of drastic circumstances, I loved that I was smaller but hated looking at myself. I loved the way I could hide behind my body, but I hated the body I saw.
This might not make sense to anyone, and truthfully, that would make the most sense, because I imagine we all feel entirely different inside of our own bodies. It’s a unique struggle to come to terms with your own self. Some people don’t struggle with it at all. Others, like myself, take years to understand that we’ll only have one body in this life. For years, I treated my body like it would one day retire and I’d get a new, hotter, fitter, more capable one without knock knees or stick-out hip bones, or one that was just better at sports, for God’s sake. Overall, I just felt like I was waiting for something new to happen to it so that it would be the body I finally wanted.
Something did happen, but it wasn’t sudden, and it was nothing I did. I didn’t change my lifestyle. I still drink and smoke and eat more than I should. I still don’t run outside enough or take as many vitamins as an adult woman should consume. But I started to look at my body longer in the mirror every day. Honestly? I took some damn selfies. I looked at the way I looked standing up, lying down, slouched, running a sprint, laughing, changing my shirt, even in the horrible light of a fitting room, trying on an ugly dress. I just looked harder. Eventually I began to look at myself as a landscape, something that I could see every day in a new light, sometimes overcast, but other times breathtaking. I felt lucky to be in my body. Even better than feeling lucky, I felt good.
I used to hate my body. It sounds corny as hell, but I love it now. I love that it exists and lets me exist. I love what it can do, I love that other people can love it or choose not to do so. When you love your body, you start to love other bodies too. You can appreciate the dude with arms that are lankier than yours, even when you used to resent that, or the cute short girls who are curvier than you who used to make you feel envious in fitting rooms. There’s no contempt left. It’s like all the harsh lines disappear. The only way to stop hating your body is to look at it and be happy that it exists. The only way to start loving your body is to get up and show the world that you exist as more than a body, too.