Saturday, December 13, 2008

I feel so stereotypical

I've never seen myself as the type to write a reflection on body image, and yet here I am.

I've been reflecting a lot lately on how much my body shape has changed over the past couple of years. I guess it's hard to avoid when you're looking forward to replacing your whole wardrobe on Boxing Day, because you only have two pairs of pants that fit comfortably. I've also been reflecting on it because my friend Brandy recently scanned and posted on Facebook a bunch of pictures from her wedding day, and so I've been looking through pictures of a twenty-one-year-old me. It's amazing what a difference seven years makes.

Now, this conversation isn't really headed where you think it is. Okay, I am still adjusting to the 25-30 lbs I put on since I got married, and I'm finding that I'm still figuring out how to dress for my body. It sure used to be easy to grab a size 4 item off the rack at Old Navy and buy it without trying it on. (It also was a lot cheaper, back when I could fit all the clothes I wore in high school.)

But mostly I've been reflecting on how weirdly relieved I've been now that I've gotten some curves on my body. (I'm still thin, but my body has a shape now.) And not relieved that I'm now considered a "healthy" weight: I've been relieved that now people will stop commenting on how weird and skinny I look.

I'm getting fairly sensitive when I hear people making joking comments about other people's thin bodies, because do you know what? The words "It disgusts me how skinny you are" do kind of give you a complex. They really do process into your brain as "I look disgusting," even when you're aware that it's a back-handed compliment. It really is not enjoyable when the only comments you hear on your looks are the words "disgusting," "frightening" and "bony." I still feel a little nervous about excusing myself to the bathroom during meals with groups of people, because of the number of times I've been (jokingly) accused of being bulimic.

Yes, I made jokes about myself being boy-shaped and weirdly skinny, with razor-sharp hips and ankles that were oddly thick for the rest of my body. But a little too much of that was about deflecting how awkward I felt in my own body. (Well, I think some of it was also that I somehow felt like I was supposed to be apologetic about not having "real woman" curves or something.)

And so it's taken me seven years to look at those pictures of myself as a 21-year-old maid of honour and see that I looked really good. Well, I could have stood up straighter and learned how to use blotting papers on my forehead, but I was pretty. And (even though I could use a haircut and some more clothes that suit my current rather than former shape) I look good now.

And let's all watch ourselves when we're commenting on other people's bodies, hey?


Anastasia said...

duly noted. I would be very unlikely to say something like that directed at a very thin person HOWEVER I am fairly likely to make statements about very thin people as a group from time to time, possibly in the presence of very thin people and I should not do that. Thanks for the reminder.

Ky said...

My girl. I'm sorry for all the horrid things I said about you being skinny when I was a teen.
You were hot then, and you're hot now.