In 2010, I lost 30 pounds in about 3 months. The weight loss was significant, especially because I am not a tall person, and I felt a confidence I hadn’t felt in years. Physically, I felt like I could do anything. I rode a bike with a child strapped to the back up hills with ease. I ran six miles and felt like I could run six more. I danced all night and woke up to Charley horses in the morning. Being skinny made me feel powerful. At the time, I had just graduated from college, just broken up with my first love, and was finding out who I was outside of these two frameworks. I felt strong emotionally, and put myself out there every chance I got.
This was not the end of my story (fortunately or unfortunately). Weight loss is not a silver bullet, and it’s not the thing that cures your lack of confidence or sets you on the path to enlightenment. I was still me, and that meant I was still growing and making mistakes and changing. I started drinking for the first time, and with the drinking came an increased appetite for bad food. I struggled with mental illness, and with that came an ever greater appetite for bad food and therapies that led to weight gain. I started working a 9 to 5, with limited time for taking care of my body in the way I was able to in the days of nannying and school. All of these things – drinking and socializing, mental illness, working – were important parts of becoming my adult self and discovering my talents and my path to happiness. They were also important parts of becoming less physically healthy and gaining a significant amount of weight.
In light of these new developments, I strived to celebrate the power of my body in its updated form. It could lift the heavy things that it needed to in order to do my job as an archivist. It had the nutrients to fight off illness. It could run – slowly. I hopped on the body positivity movement and celebrated that my body takes up space, that it cannot be ignored or tucked away or overwhelmed as it could have been in its previously small stature. But lurking beneath the surface was insecurity – I have had a small body and I have had a big body. I knew that the way you are treated with each is significantly different from the other. I knew that men talked to me differently, I knew that I was served differently, I knew that strangers thought of me differently. My body insecurity slowly became an emotional and intellectual insecurity. Who would listen to me? Why? I had to be 100% certain when I asserted a point or expressed my opinion that I was ready for negative backlash. This became so exhausting that I began keeping more and more things to myself. The insecurity snowballed.
So where am I today? I’m writing this blog. I’m speaking my mind about what I think. I’m sharing this experience with anyone who will listen. I love my body, but I do not 100% love my body. We are like best friends who have started to outgrow each other. We need a long weekend together in Nashville to rediscover what we have in common – or, we need to come to an understanding about what health looks like and what it weighs. In the next two posts, I’m going to talk about tracking what I’m eating and tracking what I’m drinking. This is a personal journey to me, something that is extremely difficult to write about, but something I find comfort in sharing. I’d love to hear your thoughts on body image and self-confidence in the comments (the new blog has COMMENTS) – where are you now? Where do you want to be? What makes you feel powerful in your body? What makes you feel vulnerable in your body?