I want to share something very close to my heart with you all tonight. I have battled with body image my entire life. My best friend/sister from another mother, Lucia, and I had a conversation once in 2005 about what to wear to a party. I don’t remember exactly what we were discussing, but I clearly remember her telling me I should wear something sexy. I laughed her off, saying yeah right. And she responded, sounding shocked, “Jenny, you don’t think you’re sexy?” And I truthfully, and sadly, answered, “No.”
Sometime in the middle of high school when I eventually hit that wonderful time in my life where boys all of the sudden become VERY attractive, I went a little ballistic on myself. I didn’t get the attention I wanted, and immediately went into a spiral of self loathing, believing wholeheartedly that if I was thinner then I would be happier. I crash dieted. I stopped eating. I took endless doses of diet pills. I exercised for hours on end. Hell and back, my friends. And I know I’m not the only one.
I am 5’9″ and I have been 195 pounds, and I have been 140 pounds. And incredulously, even at my thinnest, I still hated the way I looked and still thought I looked fat. My friends told me I looked too thin and I took it as a compliment. I dressed very modestly, nothing to draw attention to myself. I am sorry to admit that the great running feats on this blog, my marathons, were inspired by losing weight. Weight that didn’t need to be lost.
I’m writing this tonight because I have turned a corner. And I am never looking back.
My journey back to self-love and making peace with my body began after I discovered Crystal Renn, a plus sized model. She is 5’9″ and says she fluctuates between 165 and 175 pounds, and between a size 10 to a voluptuous size 16. I am also 5’9″, am currently 175 pounds, and am a size 12 – that’s right, I said it ;) So by the great art of deductive reasoning, we figure out that this absolutely beautiful, gorgeous, full-figured model is the same size as me :)
She went into the modeling industry at 100 pounds, got very sick, lost huge chunks of her hair, and couldn’t even think anymore from starving herself. Her agency dropped her when, even though she wasn’t eating more than 50-100 calories a day, her body began to hold on to every last morsel and she gained weight. She was a size 2 and they said she was too fat for high fashion modeling. Well, she proved them wrong in a big way ;) She went to a plus size agency, and though she was told she would never be more than a “fat girl” model in catalogs, she now works almost exclusively in high fashion artistic modeling. All at a size 12.
I fell in love with this particular part of her book, Hungry, where she talks about a photograph of herself after gaining weight:
It shows the naked back of a curvy woman, her dark hair curling into tendrils at the nape of her neck… She looks like a Greek goddess or an old Master painting – a Vermeer, a Titian. There’s an eye-catching weightiness to her. As she leans slightly to her right, two modest folds of flesh collect at her waist. (If you were a snarky sort, you might call this lush abundance “back fat.”)… The objective was to show beauty and strength, to offer hope of a healthy future for all women… The woman in that photograph is me.
So there you have it, ladies. We all know that beauty is more than skin deep, but I’m finding that once you learn to love and accept yourself too, doors begin to open. We cannot punish ourselves for being the size we were meant to be. It’s not always easy, but I’m working on it every day.
So let me leave you with a quote from another of my favorite books-turned-film, Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. At this point she has been in Italy for several weeks indulging in all of the heavenly food in that place.
Let me ask you something, in all the years that you have…undressed in front of a gentleman has he ever asked you to leave? Has he ever walked out and left? No? It’s because he doesn’t care! He’s in a room with a naked girl, he just won the lottery.
I am so tired of saying no, waking up in the morning and recalling every single thing I ate the day before, counting every calorie I consumed so I know just how much self loathing to take into the shower. I’m going for it. I have no interest in being obese, I’m just through with the guilt.
So this is what I’m going to do, I’m going to finish this pizza, and then we are going to go watch the soccer game, and tomorrow we are going to go on a little date and buy ourselves some bigger jeans. — Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love
I’m done with the guilt. I flat out refuse to degrade myself or compare myself against smaller thinner women anymore. I’m happy just the way I am, as me. I’m smart, I’m tall, I’m beautiful, I’m curvy, I am sexy, and I know it! So all that being said…
I’m bringing Sexy back.
Eat. Knit. Run. BLOG.