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The Uphill Battle

My struggle with loving my body.

By Alexandria StanwyckPublished 2 months ago 7 min read
The Uphill Battle
Photo by Fabrizio Conti on Unsplash

I was eight years old when I started to hate my body, triggered by an onslaught of change--puberty. Although I wasn't naive to what was happening, I was still confused and at war with, well, everything. People, males specifically, suddenly treated me differently, as if they noticed my femininity for the first time. It seemed for the most part was either a fragile porcelain doll or something to drool over. But thankfully, the ones whose opinions I cared the most apart treated me the same. In part, I'd like to think they are why I didn't feel overwhelmed by negative thoughts. They were like guards who keep the negativity in one area of my mind, trying to keep them from taking over.

That changed when a statement of a genuinely concerned family friend destroyed those defenses about two years later.

"Your shoulder blades are showing."

By Emiliano Vittoriosi on Unsplash

I didn't truly understand the damage words could bring until I heard those words. What's more, I learned how certain statements can affect you differently when it comes from someone who cares compared to ones who wants to cause you harm.

"You are so skinny, dear. Your shoulder blades are showing."

I wasn't. So skinny that is. I was incredibly active, yes, but I also ate a lot, so it all balanced out. To add to that, having prominent shoulder blades wasn't a sign of an unhealthy body. But to my ten-year-old brain didn't know that.

So, I started to eat even more, hoping, praying, I wouldn't be skinny. But with my metabolism and physical activity, I barely gained any weight. Though I hid it well, I despised my body for being so stubborn that it wouldn't change in the ways I wanted it to. In time, I shoved those words deep inside a box so they didn't completely control me anymore. They still did to some extent; loving my body was a dream so far out of my reach it might have well been another star in the sky.

"A piece of meat to devour"

By Usman Yousaf on Unsplash

It wasn't the first time I experienced sexual harassment. (Isn't that sad? That a sentence like that exists.) - Him, by Alexandria Stanwyck

As I mentioned before, boys, men, started to look at me differently when puberty started. Not that I didn't deal with it before, but it got exceptionally worse once puberty started. Or maybe it was because I was less to naive to it.

The anger at being objectified, just a piece of meat to devour, dulled the effects of other emotions --fear and shame. Certain instances chipped at my self-confidence more than others, leaving me ashamed. Although I was far from a fashionista when I was young, I started to wear more baggy clothes to hid my figure, thinking it would discourage men from looking. (It didn't.)

What was worse is I felt I couldn't talk to anyone about it with anyone, not even another woman. Sexual harassment was one of those things you knew happened, but nobody talked about it. It was one of those horrific side effects of being a woman. The #MeTooMovement changed that, but that started in 2017, the year after I graduated high school.

Instead, all the disgusting looks and words played over and over in my head like a string of tornadoes, destroying whatever headway I had with reclaiming the love of my body. Many years passed before I pulled myself from the wreckage and stopped living in fear, dressing in what made me feel comfortable and beautiful.

"Suddenly, I was 80 years old"

By nikko macaspac on Unsplash

Before the year I went started tenth grade, I always held out hope that things would get better in regards to how I felt about my body. That summer was bright and not just because of the long days in the sun; things were starting to look up.

Then I started school, seemingly triggering something latent in me. Despite a decent sleep schedule and an underwhelming amount of schoolwork, I would come home exhausted. Excruciating pain tormented my body, rivaling anything else I had ever felt, except cramps. Cramps never left in me in tears because I tried reaching for a cup on the table. Along with the stress of the new school year, I felt like I was drowning. Overnight, I was 80 years old, trapped in a continuous cycle of agony and frustration.

To add insult to misery, I gained weight quickly, thanks to a newfound comfort in food and an inability to move without wanting to scream.

All because of a stupid tick.

Lyme's disease, even after the round of antibiotics, forever altered my body, giving me more reason to hate it.


By Jason Leung on Unsplash

The way I felt about my body seemed ingrained into my DNA, a permanent fixture to live with for the rest of my life. The rare moments where I loved my body were surprises since I felt incapable of any other emotion.

After my weight gain, I fell victim to the "losing weight will make me happy" attitude. I went through years of trying and failing to lose more than five pounds with each time leaving me more depressed and angry. The scale became my enemy, mocking me as I religiously checked my weight. (It was so bad that I was weighing myself three times a day at one point.)

It took a trip to the doctor for me to realize how bad my self-hate was. They told me I had lost 25 pounds from my last visit, though I knew it was from three weeks ago since it was the last time I had weighed myself. "Congratulations," they said. Since I had an audience, I smiled and thanked them, when really I felt exhausted and guilty.

I didn't tell them how I lost the weight or how quickly I had lost it.

To say my job was demanding would be an understatement. It was so bad that I was working 12 hours since we were understaffed. My lunch break was nonexistent, mostly spent running around with a few bites in between. The stress was so bad that it destroyed my appetite some days. I had lost weight in one of the most unhealthy ways ever.

It was the wake-up call I needed.

"Love is acceptance"

By Darius Bashar on Unsplash

It has been almost four years since that day.

For the first time since puberty started, I am in love with my body, completely and fully. Seeing that statement makes me cry with joy. It isn't a rare occurrence anymore, but a constant thought that goes through my mind.

The big lesson I've learned is this: love is acceptance. There are things I can't control about my body. Genetics gave me a curvy body and a bit of a pouch, even with the perfect exercise routine and diet. And they are beautiful. (God, I can't stop crying.) Finding that acceptance wasn't easy. There were times in the beginning where I wanted to give up, but something inside of me wouldn't let me. I couldn't tell you for sure what it is, but I am thankful for it.

It has been an uphill battle with loving my body. As much as I wish I didn't go through all the things that destroyed that love, in some ways I'm glad I did. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? I know what I lost before and now, I know I will do everything I can to keep that love strong and alive. I've gone through too much too lose it again.

Things to keep in mind

  1. Failure is not the end. It is a pause. Readjust your path and keep going.
  2. The perfect weight is different for everyone. Most ideal weight and BMI charts don't account for a person's genetics, which play as big of a role as your height and age.
  3. Exercise according to your limits. Overdoing it only will leave you miserable. With my Lyme's, I have to learn to be balanced with it comes to physical exercise. If I overdo it, I can be laid up in bed for days. I try for at least 15 minutes a day, but some days I can handle longer.
  4. A healthy diet doesn't mean you have to give up the foods you love. Sweets have often been my downfall and trying to cut them completely out only made me crave them more. When I finally got my hands on some, I would binge. Now, I make sure I eat smaller portions so I don't fall into that trap.
  5. The clothes you wear can help with your body image. Learning to dress according to your body type and what makes you feel great can help with your confidence. I make a point to go through my closet every so often and get rid of clothes I don't like myself in, even if they are clothes I've had for a while.
  6. Self-care is not selfish; it's necessary. Taking time out of your schedule to do extra things for yourself not only benefits your body physically, but also psychologically. It took a long time for me to realize that and doing so has helped boost my confidence. So make sure you set time aside for it.

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About the Creator

Alexandria Stanwyck

My inner child screams joyfully as I fall back in love with writing.

I am on social media! (Discord, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.)

instead of therapy poetry and lyrics collection is available on Amazon.

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  • Ashley Shiflett2 months ago

    "Love is acceptance" . So true and very well said. Thank you for writing this! ❤️

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