It has taken me more than 30 years, to finally figure out, and admit, that I had been fighting a war with myself.
From birth, I was taught that my life revolved around my Father’s career. I learned to sit with my legs crossed, standup when someone else enters the room, to write thank you notes, what utensils to use, and of course, the art of never letting anyone in, or ever knowing who you really are on the inside.
My Mother, Grandmother and Aunties, were all preoccupied with weight. To the point, that much of their discussions revolved around their size, covering up, and diets. From a young age, I knew my Mother had a distorted view of her looks. She constantly went through starvation periods, only drinking coffee, and then catching her doing ballet exercises. She frequently commented on how proud she was of her flat stomach, especially after 3 kids.
My sister, who took after the voluptuous side of our family, had breasts, hips and the amazing height of 5’10. At 17, on our way to Asia, she bought this amazing hot pink bikini. She was so proud of it, that when we were at my grandparents house, she put it on to show my Mother and Grandmother. I remember sitting at the kitchen table, my grandmother got up, and said “oh, how nice, it will look so much better when you lose a few pounds.” My Mother smiled on, and agreed, maybe she should think about going on a diet. I remember how crestfallen my sisters face looked, she was absolutely gutted. I piped up “you look gorgeous, I hope I grow breasts!”, I was 9, and I really wanted to look like my sister.
My Sister spent every minute on the beach, with a massive t-shirt covering up her beautiful curves. She was nowhere near overweight, she had such a hot body, it is sad she couldn’t enjoy it.
I on the other hand, never grew my curves, I was a competitive gymnast, my body was flat, and muscular. My Mother saw my body, and desperately wanted me in ballet, thinking I could then lose my muffin top. I just loved to run and tumble, and was not interested in ballet. While my sister began to turn to food as comfort and a way to hide. I used exercise and lack of food to have control over the various things I had no control over. I had a very distorted view of my body, but funny enough, I never felt insecure putting on a gymnastics leotard because my head was truly happy running, moving and flipping. No matter how skinny I was, I just hated my body. I never had the curves I wanted. When I grew 5 inches in one year, I had to quit gymnastics. So, I turned to running.
My Mother, to this day, will tell me how she feels if I wear something inappropriate, or tells me that I can no longer dress the way I could, because my body simply didn’t bounce back the way it did for her after giving birth. I realize, she isn’t really commenting on my body, but her insecurities. I am 15 pounds heavier than I was, and I am way healthier. I still workout, run, bike and practice gymnastics. I just nourish my body, and have embraced my muscles.
In my house, we don’t talk about weight, we don’t own a scale. I have a rule, that when my Mother visits, she is not allowed to utter anything about what any of us are wearing, or bodies, or weight. I don’t want my son to grow up with a distorted view of his body. I don’t want him to grow up with my obsessiveness of working out, or teach him that food can comfort you.
It has been a battle, but a battle worth fighting. I have won, not my distorted view.