Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Mona Lisa and Me: My Journey with Body Image

By Jen Evans

When I think about body image, the first thing that occurs to me is that women seem to have to deal with this more than men. But I’ve never chatted with a man about this subject so I don’t know how valid that is. On a daily basis, men and women are confronted with ideas and images about what they ought to look like on magazine covers and in the world of celebrity. In my thinking, all of these images are airbrushed and not realistic.

From the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, a larger woman was considered normal and of noble status because she could afford to feed herself. If we take a look at the Mona Lisa we can see that she’s no Twiggy. She’s full-bodied and buxom. That was what people considered attractive at that time.

Somewhere along the catwalk, I feel we went horribly wrong. Even in the Fifties here in America, women like Marilyn Monroe were more like an hourglass than a Barbie Doll. Maybe it’s because of ladies like Twiggy that the unrealistic body image manifested.

My journey with body image has been challenging. I’ve spent my adult life dealing with an eating disorder called binge eating disorder (BED). Until I was twenty-six I ate whatever I wanted and didn’t have to think about my weight. I was mostly happy with my body at this time. But around twenty-seven I started to use food to deal with complex emotions.

Looking back, a lot had happened to me before I turned twenty-six. I had experienced profound loss, from my parent’s divorce and my father’s abandonment of me, to the death of a beloved friend. And more poignantly, at that exact time in my emotional history I lost the guy I married. He wasn’t who he portrayed himself to be. He was someone else entirely.

At twenty-six I was too young to process all this. So I started to eat. Once I became a plus-sized girl I felt shame for my physical expansion. Also I was body-shamed with nasty stares by both men and women. I’d like to tell you it has gotten easier. But I can’t. I’m still a big girl and I still don’t like it. I body-shame myself all the time and I am not comfortable in my own skin.

There is a movement now where women are advocating for body diversity. It calls for acceptance of “fat” or larger people. I think that’s great. I do. But for me, it’s not simply a question of my weight. It’s not healthy for me to be bigger. I have two bad knees and when I’m big they hurt at times, specifically when going up and down stairs. I don’t like the way I feel when I’m big. I also feel it’s harder to attract a date when I’m heavier.

Really, I just feel bad about myself and that doesn’t help in any sort of way. If I could feel good about myself at whatever weight I was then maybe I wouldn’t think about it day after day as I do now. But it is a constant at this time, and so is my disorder. I’m hoping to truly deal with my food issues this summer. I want to be my best self and that doesn’t include weight, both physically and metaphorically. A healthy me will probably be a more grounded me, and that is what I will achieve.

 

3 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. I can totally relate. I gained a lot of weight when I moved to California and a lot of people are really judgmental. One woman even asked me if I was pregnant once...I saw this really nice looking young man at the gym today and I wanted to say something. I was wearing my favorite t-shirt that hides the pounds but I chickened out. I wish the world weren't so superficial. It's what is on the inside that counts. You are a beautiful person and so am I...thank you.

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    1. Hi there. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us. The struggle is so very real, isn't it? Thank you also for your bravery in speaking your truth. Perhaps, the more people speak up about this issue, the more consciousness we can create about it. I wish we lived in a judgement-free world. That would be ideal

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    2. No problem. I would be happy to share my blog with you privately. I have only done three posts so far and I need to work on editing them better before I post them. I am really proud of the first one. If you are interested please email me at cmriley2004@yahoo.com. I don't want to share it with the world yet because I am very sensitive to criticism so just a few people have read it. Martin has been helping me a bit. Thank you for your kind words. Take Care.

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