I learned to swim at 2 years old without any sort of floaties, so my mom would watch me from outside of the pool. My mom tells me that one time I was wading around and when I climbed out of the pool, a woman nearby laughingly said out loud, “Oh my goodness, I thought that little girl was a fat baby, but she is so tiny.” The truth is that I have always had a very round face and since my little body was hidden under the chlorinated water, my “fat” face was all she could see.
I now find it interesting that a stranger felt the need to examine and even scrutinize the body of a 2 year old girl.
I did not become insecure about having a round face until peers started making fun of me when I was 13 years old. When I was in high school, a boy that hated me found a picture of me in which I had a double chin, made photocopies of it, and passed it all around the cafeteria. I was mortified. When the boys at school wanted to torture me, they themselves would make double chins by pressing downwards on their necks as they walked passed me.
The interesting thing is that I was considered popular in high school, almost always on homecoming and prom courts, dated the “hottest” guys and was named “cutest” in my senior yearbook; yet, I learned at a young age that something about my face was noticeably repulsive.
My double chin became the physical attribute I was most insecure about. Even when I was at 120 lbs, I still had a little bit of a double chin when I laughed or turned the wrong way. It’s just how God made me.
The women in my family are “apple shaped.” This means that we carry our weight in our stomachs and have thinner thighs and behinds. In high school, I grew to hate my stomach too. When all my girlfriends were getting their belly buttons pierced, I refused. At 125 lbs, I thought I was way too fat for that sort of thing.
Boys at school would call me fat when they were mad at me for whatever and I believed them.
When I went to college, I thought it would be a good idea to eat ice cream and cookies for lunch and take naps every day instead of exercise. I packed on my “freshman 15” and reached 140 lbs for the first time in my life. At 5’2, this was a lot for me and I had to buy all new clothes. In college, my best friend was naturally thin and gorgeous, so this did not help with my self-esteem.
In fact, I will never forget it. I was infatuated with this guy (who was my best guy friend in college). He loved God, but he was a “bad boy,” and of course I thought I could change him. One evening we were cuddling as “friends” and I was on cloud nine, thinking he liked me back.
He leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Do you think your best friend would ever date me?” My heart sunk. Was it my double chin? Was my stomach too fat? Was I not pretty enough? I mean, why not me? We are cuddling right now for goodness’ sakes. Who knows his reason. I mean, we were kids. But it devastated me in that moment and I convinced myself that it must have been my appearance that made him reject me.
My junior and senior year of college, I started cheerleading again and dropped down to 130 lbs where I stayed until I was about 23. Around 24 or 25, my body changed. I became more womanly. My breasts, hips and behind got bigger and I gained 5 to 10 lbs. I didn’t get chubbier, my body simply became fuller – more womanly. My normal weight became 135 lbs to 140 lbs (depending on the time of the month).
I had a hard time with this because 135 lbs is the most a female my height should ever weigh on those stupid health charts. In the back of my head, I always thought that I needed to lose 10 to 15 pounds to get back to my teenager/early twenties weight.
Around the age of 27, I became extremely sick with daily migraines. The pain was unreal and I barely moved. I was on at least 10 different medications, severely depressed, and reached up to 180 lbs. My small frame was under way too much pressure and my feet were starting to hurt just from walking normally.
Now, at 31, I still have chronic migraine, but I spent about 4 years getting this battle under control. I am still in the battle, but things are more under control. As I have gotten better, I lost most of the weight and now I am at 145 lbs.
I need to lose 10 more pounds to be at a healthy weight for my small frame, but I am not obsessed. Instead of focusing on food, I focus on things that make me happy that are not food. I love good food though, and I will never give up what I love to have the body of a teenager.
Not long ago I would have told you that I should be 125-130 lbs, but I now accept that this is not the weight of my “woman body.” My woman body is sexier than it has ever been and my husband loves it. It is not perfect, but I am learning to love it too. It has been hard, but I am also learning to accept my round face. As I get older, I notice that people with fatter faces look younger and have fewer wrinkles, so I guess there is a rainbow at the end of my double chin. 😉
In my opinion, there is nothing sexier than a woman who is confident in who she is and comfortable in her own skin no matter what size she is.
Tell me ladies…What do you need to learn to accept (and maybe someday love) about your woman bodies?
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My ham hock thunder thighs! If I can learn get rid of them, I’d be fine. I don’t care about the gut and the butt. I’m top heavy but hubby acted like he was going to have a heart attack and keel over when I very gently mentioned the possibility of getting a reduction so what can you do? Oh, and my Barney Rubble feet. I can drive a car with these things!
But at the end of the day, I am what I am. I can’t complain too much. Girl, if I saw a 199.99999. on the scale I’d be so happy. You wouldn’t be able to tell me a thing!
Good post. Women are always so critical of ourselves, especially in our Western culture where white, blonde hair, lollipop head, stick legs, and giant plastic boobs seem to be the standard of beauty. Even though people are talking about how that needs to change, at the end of the day, that kind of thing seems to sell better than big hips, round faces, dark skin, and a thousand other variations of women reflected in the country.
Thanks for the being transparent!
HAHA, you are so funny girl!!! Just love our talks on here and you are gorgeous darlin’!!! Xo
Body struggles…I was 330 pounds with pcos in high school, then through starving myself and over exercise to the point where my finger nails and hair fell out I lost to 140pounds on my 5foot 7 inch frame, I kept it off for a few years by bringing and purging. Managed to date…horrible experience. Then while taking care of my dying father (he had pancreatic cancer) when i was 23 to 25 I put it all back on through stress. List it again, working at the grand canyon hiking everyvdayvafter he passed away. Then in a terrible abusive marriage I regained to 340 pounds…divorced. Finally at 49, I got a roux-n-y gastric bypass and now ivweigh 145 pounds for the last 6 years. The longest in my life. I also had an abdominoplasty to remove a large flap of excess skin last year, finally I feel at peace. I realised itcwasnt the weight it was removing the area of my body that had been terribly sexually abused most of my early child good. I cannot tell you the relief I feel. I literally cut off the places where the abuse happened. From age 5 tob9. I feel free and peaceful. My weight is stable for the first time in my life.
So happy things are stable for you now. Thank you for sharing!
First of all, I’m going to come steal your boots because they are awesome.
But in all seriousness, this hits home for me. I was always a relatively thin/average woman up until I hit my 30’s and marriage and babies. And then my 40’s, ohmygoodness. It is a constant, daily battle to remind myself that I DON’T have to look like a 20 year old because I’m NOT one. I think that what I am learning to love is that my body is aging, and it will continue to age, and that’s ok. I’m learning to focus more on holistic health instead of fretting about how many calories I burn. I’m learning to be GOOD to my body. So I’m not going to fret if what I really want instead of an all-out cycling class is really a slow walk in the woods. And I’m going to look around me at all of the women of various shapes and sizes and how they glow and I’m going to let myself just glow with happiness too. And I’m going to do my best not to freak out every time I catch sight of the wrinkles on my neck and sagging jaw line reflected in my tablet or laptop screen.
I love your focus on holistic health. You seem a very wise woman! 🙂
Thank you so much for being vulnerable and sharing this. I can tell you that at 5foot 1inch and 100lbs., charts tell me to gain weight and I still struggle with body image. I don’t think it’s a weight thing I think unfortunately it is yet again unrealistic and oppressive expectations our culture places on women.
You are stunning and your confidence shines through. Thanks for being such a beautiful example inside and out!
Awe, thank doll. You are stunning yourself!
Also, I agree…I blame the patriarchy! 😉
Love this post. I believe it is every woman’s battle. I always thought you have the prettiest face! I remember when you taught at CCA most of us agreed that you are one of the prettiest gals to walk the planet.
I personally have been struggling with accepting what wasnt perfection in my mind. I started doing internediate pilates at 13 and 14 and would exercise everytime i ate something.
It became a nasty obsession. Last year when my stomach tore i became annorexic thin and i couldnt exercise and it was there where i realised to take care of our bodies for health and not looks.
So today im still fitness mad but i do it for health too not just to look good…
And i think if people get that the obsession will stop and health and fitness becomes enjoyable.
Amen sister and thank you!!! I think you are perfect as you are!!! Xo Love you and so proud of the woman you have become!
This super hits home for me. I was super skinny all growing up and through high school thanks to two to three hours daily of competitive martial arts. When I went to college I naturally gained weight, and was frustrated with how much I weighed (my lowest weigh-in for a competition in high school was 124lbs (i’m 5’10”) which now seems insane). I went up to 150 or so in college and felt overweight. Then I went to law school where a crazy schedule and no working out led to a weight gain in 170. I felt so fat. I managed to lose 15 pounds one year, but gained it all back once I started working at a law firm with crazy hours. I’ve pretty much stayed there ever since and it’s only gotten harder to manage after two kids.
I purposefully didn’t look at myself in the mirror this morning because I didn’t want to see my stomach. I guess all this is to say that I still really struggle with what is normal on me post-baby and what is something I need to work on. I haven’t figured it out yet. I know that I need to learn to accept and love my jiggly stomach (which will never be not jiggly) and stretch marks from my babies. And I need to find some way to make sure I take care of my body and treat it well without obsessing over a number on the scale.
I think it is a journey…nothing more powerful than loving ourselves right where we are. Thanks for being vulnerable. So many of us have these same thoughts, but don’t say it outloud.
Love this post…thanks for sharing! I’m curious what you are doing to manage your chronic migraine?? My 18 year old has been suffering with that 24/7 for close to 2 1/2 years.
Finding triggers is key. I have to wake up at the same exact time every day. If I sleep in one minute, I get a headache all day long. If I sleep in an hour, I get a migraine all day long.
Also, familiarize yourself with “medication overuse migraine.” Doctors put me on too much pain meds over the years, and things got much worse due to this.
Is your 18 year old on a prevention med? I am not because hubs and I are trying to get preggers, but if I were not, I would be taking a prevention medication. Talk to her/his doc about nortriptyline or topamax. 🙂
Exercise and lots of water helps, although I suck at both. I don’t eat MSG at all or drink anything with artificial sweeteners. Also, she/he should try not to skip meals.
“Migraine brains” hate inconsistency or any sudden changes. Managing stress is KEY.
Would agree that handling stress is absolutely important. The last couple of years of high school (yeah, back in the dark ages), I would regularly get a migraine every 4-6 weeks or so. Really bad news. When they suddenly stopped at about 18 or 19, I realized there was some connection to a trigger. Yep. So it’s important to look at stress and what seems to trigger. I would, however, also advise against meds unless you absolutely can’t function without them, and you’ve done your own research, and you have a VERY good physician who is advising you. Now that I am 50+ years past migraines, I can say that–and that’s partly because I just hate to take meds unless I’m near death! LOL Best wishes to you! I know you know what I mean when I say (for the sake of non-migraine sufferers) that a migraine makes you feel like you’re going to die, and then you’re afraid you’re not. I don’t know how else to describe it.
YA, meds are tricky. It depends on how chronic the pain is…but I agree, meds should be last resort for a young woman. But sometimes nothing else works.
PS….I forgot one thing…..check the amount of sugar you’re eating….not just candy bars and colas and pastry, and the obvious stuff. It includes potatoes, pasta, fruit, breads; i.e., much the same as a diabetic diet.
I used to be so skinny. And then I turned 30 and quit smoking, and before I knew it, I packed on 20lbs. I was still in the military at the time so there was a decision to be made since that 20 lbs put me within 3 pounds of my max weight. Do I buy new uniforms and risk being put on the “fat girl program” or do I put in the effort to lose some pounds? I only had a year left in, and was NOT going to buy new uniforms. I worked my butt off every work day at the gym, and by the time I got out, I had hit my goal weight. But as a civilian? Yeah, I just bought bigger clothes once I stopped working out. Gained back that 20 + 40. Then I fell into a “bad crowd” who got me into running. Also discovered I am gluten intolerant and had to bread my pasta/bread addiction. Managed to lose the 40, and decided that I was ok at that weight. But then my best friend pointed out my drinking problem in the midst of a huge family/life crisis. Throughout that first year and a half of sobriety, I managed to gain that 40 back, and with it the double chin and the gut. But all that said, I think it’s the rounded face that I have now that I didn’t have 60 pounds ago that bothers me almost as much as my pot belly.
Thanks for your honest share!
As a father of a teenage girl, I have tried my best to instill in her that her worth is so much more than her looks. As a fat guy trying my best to improve my health (in my 40’s), I have tried to instill in her the value of exercise/good eating habits for HEALTH, not for “looks.”
As a Christian male, I apologize for all of the times the church and society have made women feel that their value is in what they provide to my gender.
You are all beautiful & creative & created.
Awe that is very kind Jonathan! 🙂
I was very skinny as a teen and hated the song “Skinny Legs and All” that became popular in the late 60’s. Remember that this was a time when the “Marilyn Monroe” voluptuous kind of figure still reigned. I tried and tried to gain weight to no avail. I hadn’t even broken 100 lbs. when I married at the age of 24. Fast forward through the years of no discipline with regards to what and how much to eat that was established during those early years, giving birth to children, sitting at a desk for as much as 10-12 hrs./day, and menopause. I also ended up carrying too much weight on my 5’2″ frame. Once I quit that desk job and got serious, it took me almost 3 years to lose nearly 30 lbs. eating just 1,200-1,300 calories/day with daily exercise. However, I haven’t been able to maintain that level of discipline, and didn’t look forward to watching every bite that goes into my mouth for the rest of my life. So I relaxed a little and began eating at a healthy and moderate level I feel I can maintain, and, of course, I put almost 10 lbs. back on. I’m self-conscious about those 10 lbs. and would like to lose them, but not enough to go back to letting a diet rule my life.
Btw, I also have a round face and a double chin, and, yes, people always think I’m younger than I am. 🙂
Yes, I am with you. I am about 10 lbs overweight and would love to lose it, but I am a foodie in my heart of hearts and still deal with a chronic health problem, so I figure I will get there when I get there! 🙂
I have something called PCOS. It causes me to gain weight easily and have a hard time losing. I have been dealing with this for 9 years and have been anywhere from 145- 200+ lbs, I am a 5’1″ girl.Right now I am about 175 and struggle with that. The only way for me to lose weight and keep it off is to be extremely strict with my diet and not only is this exhausting, but does not always work. I am working to accept myself where I am not where I want to be, but it is a daily struggle. This post is very encouraging. So thank you
So sorry and I know how you feel to some degree.