Body Perception (Part One)

I’ve been thinking a lot about my body lately.  I’ve spent much of my life hating my body, seeing its flaws, seeing its fat.  I could see only its flaws, what it couldn’t do for me. I’d hear in my head all the names people (children and adults) (strangers and family members) would call me because of my body size.

When I was maybe 16 or 17 I clearly remember being at a birthday party for my uncle, and I overheard several of his friends refer to me as “Walter, the refrigerator, Perry”.  These were ADULTS, and no one stopped them or told them their comments were infantile and inappropriate.

Then there was the time I was at the mall and these teenagers, probably 16 to 18 years old, followed me around taunting me with some pretty hideous comments.  I could go on, but you probably get the point.  It didn’t really matter where I was, someone could be trusted to be there to berate me because of my body size.  Or look at me with abject horror–no I’m not exaggerating.  I wish I was.

Given all that, is it any wonder I’ve had a skewed perception of my body, of myself, of my SELF worth?

But there’s something inside me that is changing.  Watching my father struggle to do simple things, like go to the bathroom by himself, is profoundly affecting the way I view my body, the way I view myself, my SELF. Thinking about him motivates me to push myself to SAFELY explore where my body can go–to understand that my mind limits me more than my body.

I’ve also learned to appreciate my body more for what it can do during my Bikram yoga classes.  Two weeks ago I decided to try taking two classes back-to-back, and you know what?  I not only survived.  I thrived, so that’s become my new habit: three times a week I go to two back-to-back Bikram Yoga classes, and that effort has paid off immensely. Last Friday, for the first time ,I discovered that I could, with help from my instructor, grab my foot from behind while doing standing bow pulling pose.  Also, with his help I can now grab my ankle while doing bow pose.  When I first started two months ago (yes I’ve only been doing Bikram for two months), I never imagined I’d be able to reach these new places so soon.

This makes me LOVE my body for what it can do, for where it can go.

It’s not that I have always hated my body.  Even when I was at my highest weight I’d be seen in public in a bathing suit, and I’m including a pic here to prove it. And when I’d travel, I’d always go dancing in public (but only in hotel fountains:)).

But there’s a difference now. I don’t see my fat with hatred, with loathing.  I’m learning to see with new appreciation, and I think I’ll save that for another blog post, one that is fully about loving my body for where it’s taking me and how I’m learning to perceive it.

For now though, I leave you with this: it’s hot; it’s really hot.  IF you want to wear a bathing suit, wear one.  If anyone else judges you, that’s their problem.  If you judge you that’s a judgment you’ll live to regret.  Have no regrets.  Live.  You’re worth it.  You always were, and you always will be.

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4 thoughts on “Body Perception (Part One)

  1. Another most excellent and inspiring post! Thank you so much for your bravery and honesty, and for caring enough about others to share your journey.

    Bullying is ugly, no matter the reason for it, and alas, adults are often no better about it than children — where do you think the kids get the idea from? We moved around a lot when I was a kid — by the time I started 10th grade, I’d been to 13 or 14 different schools — and so, by virtue of always being “the new kid,” I got bullied. There were a couple of schools I attended where some of the teachers were as cruel to me as my fellow students.

    Your zest for life and your pursuit of finding ways to wring as much enjoyment as you can from every moment are so inspiring 🙂

  2. Yes! Another poignant and inspiring post. Thanks for your honesty and depth of thought. Congrats on your Bikram Yoga success!

  3. “I’d always go dancing in public (but only in hotel fountains:)).” This sentence made me giggle–it is a playful image that reflects well how I see you.

  4. For as long as I have known you, which is approx. 23 years now, I have always viewed you as a unique, smart, and vibrant woman. After reading your blog today, more so than ever, I would also like to include brave and courageous to that list. Not only for sharing your story in this blog, but also for not allowing your body size to define you or your life’s choices. More importantly, for not allowing ignorant and distorted perceptions of others, adults or children, get in your way of what you want in this life. I have always known you to appreciate every opportunity given to you to take command of your life, despite the hurdles you have encountered. You said it best when you stated, “Live. You’re worth it. You always were, and you always will be.” This is the motto of your life! Remember it every day and use it as a force, pushing you forward towards the happiness that you deserve! :0)

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