Body talk


This summer, I am reaching a milestone: I have maintained a healthy weight for 5 years.

Most people in my current everyday life did not know me between the years of 2000-2002, when I gained not the freshman 15, but literally, close to the freshman 50. I moved away from home, had access to a surprisingly palatable college cafeteria, went to Taco Bell almost every night, and hated to exercise. Period. It was that simple – and before I knew it, my face and my fingers and my waistline had ballooned up to form a person I couldn’t recognize. I was completely uneducated about health, and calories-in versus calories-out. I quickly spiraled into a depression, and hated myself for being fat. And until I finally got my act together and was empowered to do something about it, I lived a reclusive and self-loathing existence.

Through the difficult, old-fashioned method of decreasing my calories and increasing my exercise, my body is now very, very different than what it once was. But my mind is the same. I look in the mirror and criticize my form. I live in fear of the number on the scale creeping up. I feel guilty every single time I eat a cookie. I exercise as punishment for over-consuming. I beat myself up for what I am, and what I am not.

And I know that I am not the only one.

Due to the media or the culture or the devil, our minds have a skewed expectation of what we should be, and what we should look like. While I know that it affects certain men, I am confident in saying that women have taken on the lion’s share of this curse.

I have heard some of my most beautiful friends refer to their bodies as “disgusting,” “heinous,” and “foul.” I have used similar words in reference to myself, too. This both angers me and breaks my heart. Everywhere we look, there are cruel reminders to hate our legs, to hate our hips, to hate our _____. You name it. It feels like a hopeless situation and a vicious cycle – will it ever end? What’s it going to take?

I honestly believe that it’s going to take an entire generation of women saying, “Enough is enough.” Changing our way of thinking. Doing the hard work of taking each negative thought captive, and transforming our self-talk. Vowing to never use harsh and hateful words to describe our bodies. Step by step, learning to love and care for what we have been given. Refusing to teach our daughters to hate their fleshy arms or stomachs or thighs.

But before an entire generation can do this, it has to start with individuals.

This is my hope and my prayer for myself. I do not want to spend the next 50 years condemning the body that is so faithfully getting me through this life. I want to be grateful to it, and take good care of it, and find contentment in less than perfection. Wouldn’t life be easier if I could be kind to myself? If you could be kind to yourself?

I’ve always known that thinking highly of oneself is vanity. But recently, I have been realizing that thinking lowly of oneself is another form of vanity. Because in either case, we are giving ourselves too much credit.


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  1. Christina on June 9, 2008 at 9:02 AM

    This was the post I needed to read this morning – i.e. the morning I started a new diet. I will re-read your words again, I’m sure, as I struggle to take off the exact same 10 pounds I shed/gain pretty much on a yearly basis. Exhausting!

  2. Allie, Dearest on June 9, 2008 at 9:37 AM

    Great post, Annie.
    I went through the same thing, and go through the same thing.

    Thanks for writing this, you darling.

  3. Meridith on June 9, 2008 at 10:53 AM

    I will join you in this battle because I believe it is something worth fighting for. I identify with the struggles of self-acceptance and the always-destructive comparison game. Let’s join together in replacing the lies we tell ourselves with the truth that we each have a unique beauty to unveil.

  4. Shannon on June 9, 2008 at 11:51 AM

    Cory (the hubby) and I just had a serious convo about this exact same thing. Blah. I STRUGGLE with it. Especially after having a baby. It’s absolutely devastating how the lies of satan can sink in kill your self worth. But like Meridith said… its totally worth fighting against.

    I love your words.

    “I want to be grateful to it, and take good care of it, and find contentment in less than perfection.”


  5. Sarah Kate on June 9, 2008 at 5:34 PM

    My problem is that if I start loving my body, where’s my motivation to work out?
    Actually, I’ve become better at loving my body over the past couple years. The problem: 10 pounds and too many clothes that I can’t fit into.

  6. Hope on June 9, 2008 at 5:44 PM

    seriously, girl. something i’ve been dealing with on a consistent basis since i gained my senior weight. (hello, stress eating!) i lost it and am healthy, but still look in the mirror with unfairly harsh criticism. no good.

    it is good to see someone shares the struggle, however.

    here’s to loving ourselves!

    (’cause i’m good enough. i’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me!) ;)

  7. Annibelle on June 9, 2008 at 6:36 PM

    I heard it said that high fashion models NEED to be rail thin because designers want their clothes to hang on their bodies like they do on hangers. Designers LITERALLY want the models to be invisible! And they don’t bat an eye when telling an already thin and beautiful girl that she needs to tone this, and shed that…

    Disgusting, no?

  8. I am Kate Maxwell and home is in on June 10, 2008 at 2:54 PM

    i think three things about myself…

    thinking of yourself too much in any way is pride
    thinking of yourself highly is generally truth :)
    thinking of yourself too lowly is sad

    and i mean this in any way, not just the body thing, but i wouldn’t post it on my own blog, so i commend you.

  9. Krissie on June 15, 2008 at 4:07 PM

    Great post! I read you often and couldn’t remember if I’ve ever commented. I have now!

    I like the thought that being too harsh on myself, although opposite of pride, is still placing too much focus on me. Gives me something to think about.

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