I live hours away from my loved ones, and only get to go home a few times out of the year. Every time I go home, I feel as though I am on display, but not in a good way. I feel as though before my family truly sees me and asks about my well-being, they see my weight – how it may have fluctuated, how I fit in my clothes. Their subtle and not-so-subtle comments either approve me or shame me, and it is has become tremendously unsettling.
I live a fairly healthy lifestyle. I enjoy running, hot yoga and intense boot-camp classes. I eat well and love to make green smoothies, but I do like my side of fries and sometime have too much coffee. I am 5’11'' and have a strong frame. Some weeks I excel in my workouts, and others I struggle to find balance. I avoid the scale because it often diminishes how I feel about myself. I struggle with hypertension and am very intentional about remedying it. I have always straddled between what society deems, a larger, “regular- sized” girl and a smaller, “plus-sized” figure. That itself has at times made me feel unsettled, as I did not always know where I “belonged” when it came to shopping and fashion. I am not a health guru by any means, and my weight does fluctuate like many women. Managing my weight, wellness and happiness is a constant effort because these things do not necessarily come easily for me. Overall, I have a healthy body image, but I do have my moments and places of insecurity.
Recently, I went home and decided to go shopping with my loved ones. As I looked for outfits, I was met with questions and comments from them like, “you shop in the plus-sized section, right,” “these pants will cover your gut," and “are you sure you don’t want an extra-large in that?” Prior to that, in church, another loved one who has not seen me in almost a year immediately said to me, “it looks like you’re finally getting a butt." It wasn’t until those incidents that I realized how damaging and problematic those comments were to me. I came home from that trip, scrutinizing the very things that they zeroed in on. I tried to explain to one of my loved ones how hurtful and offensive her words were, but she did not seem to get or accept what I was saying.
I gently tried to explain that no one has the authority to open up a conversation about my body. I do not welcome loaded “suggestions” or questions that shame, criticize or project others’ insecurities onto me, no matter how “normal” those comments may be to them. My body is my temple, blended and filled with magnificence, sensitivities, strength and insecurities. I am already aware of all its rolls, blemishes, and cellulite. I will never need someone else to point them out to me. I choose to surround myself with people, women especially, who love (and know) me enough to choose their words about me wisely. I am a woman, complete, multi-faceted and whole. It does a disservice to me to not see me in my totality.
I lovingly and regularly engage in affirming my body, wellness and happiness. “No negative self-talk” has been my ongoing affirmation. I’ve come to realize that women who often diminish their selves and their own bodies, are more inclined to do that to me and to others, even if unintentional. Insecurity breeds insecurity. I refuse to allow the remarks of others to undermine the wholesome journey that I am on with my body and myself.
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