My history with body confidence is a checkered one.
As a kid, I was constantly underweight and this apparently caused concerned for my mother. I was an active tomboy so I'm sure hours of running around the neighborhood was a factor. I was simultaneously made fun of my chicken legs at school and praised for my svelte figure by relatives.
In high school, I barely made it over 100 pound by the time I was 16. I did basketball and tennis and loved gym class. I ate like a wolf. Despite being thin, I had acne so bad it was painful to wash my face.
I constantly fretted about how I looked. My hometown was pretty superficial and even in my church looks were important. I never had confidence that I was attractive and it was easy to dismiss my looks compared to the popular pretty girls.
Mike came along and was most helpful in telling me otherwise, but it takes a long time to unwind long-standing behavior.
I filled out more in college and achieved what I consider a healthy weight for several years (150lb at 5'6"). I was confident, felt care-free about my body, and made efforts to dress it appealingly.
During grad school, I became less active and the scale started climbing. My confidence began to slip. Teaching completely destroyed any exercise plan and I officially became overweight.
Now a year and half into a sedentary desk job, I am 191 pounds. That's really embarrassing for me to admit, but I'm doing this publicly to move past being ashamed of my body.
Yes, I used the word ashamed. I feel self-conscious about the excess I carry, how clothing fits me poorly, and that I still have acne at 27. I deliberately dress in ways that cover my figure.
I was recently in a Victoria's Secret with a friend and thinking back on the days when I was a VS junkie (they don't carry a bra size that fits me anymore ... big boobs are not a blessing). It dawned on me that it's been a long time since I bought something for myself. Afterall, sometimes lingerie is for the wearer, not the viewer.
As we continued to shopped, I realized this wasn't just an issue of sexuality, it was a problem with body confidence in every aspect of my life.
In recent years, I have consciously denied myself anything that would draw attention to my body. I have no fun tops for a night out on the top, no dresses that I would wear to a bar but not work, no outfit that makes me feel like a million bucks.
I've always been a believer that attractiveness radiates from within. But I'm beginning to think that playing down the outside isn't a solution to body dissatisfaction.
The crazy thing is, I would be horrified if one of my girlfriends confessed to me the same thoughts that I have about myself.
Most people make a New Year's resolution to lose weight. And while I'm certainly keen to see that number go down, I'm going to start working on my confidence. I'm not sure how I'm going to reclaim it, but I need to work on.
My 10-year high school reunion is this fall. I want to walk into that room and own it. The last thing on my mind will be my body. Let's see what I can do in 9 months!
Do you struggle with your appearance? How do you chase away negative thoughts?