My Struggle With Body Image

my-struggle-with-body-image

I’m going to be very honest with you, it was very hard for me to write this post. I have never spoken (or written) extensively about my over-a-decade long struggle with body image. Enough is enough. There shouldn’t be a stigma around discussing body image, about struggling with body image, about accepting who you are regardless of what you look like. That is why I’m sharing my story. By reading my story, I hope that you make amends with your body, that you share my story with someone who you know is struggling and help them. I am not a licensed anything (other than a driver) and I cannot give any medical advice, but I can certainly share my personal advice and lend an ear to anyone who may be struggling. Here is my story:


My entire life I have been athletic. I started swimming at three years old and continued to swim through the 8th grade. I began hacking around a volleyball with my dad in the backyard at four. I began playing in a softball league and volleyball with the park district at ten years old. At school, I played basketball and football with the boys at recess. I loved sports.

That being said, never in my wildest dreams would I have referred to myself as thin or fit. I didn’t understand why my friends, some of whom played sports alongside me and some who cheered from the sidelines, were thin. I didn’t understand how amongst all of the girls in my class, I was the only one who had a tummy bulge over the top of her pants. I didn’t understand that as I was growing in all directions, I could no longer try to wear the same shirts that showed my tummy if I raised my hand in class.

Starting in the third grade, I was teased about my weight, called the “fat friend” amongst my group of girlfriends. And I felt like it, like I deserved it. I mean, after all, they weren’t necessarily lying, they were just telling the truth brutally like kids do. Rather than developing an eating disorder or self-harming or other means of self-punishment, I got mean. Very mean. I loved school and I loved learning, but I hated how the words of my classmates made me feel. What did I do? I teased back. I teased other girls for being smart or for wearing a certain shirt. I teased boys for smelling or for falling on the playground. I got mean. The worst part is that when I got home from school, I would feel guilty about how mean I was to my classmates and I would cry and cry.

I attended a friend’s birthday party in the 3rd grade. My friend was of a similar build as I was. Her dad came and chatted with us girls and he said that I, like my friend, would “even out” as we got older.

That was the first time I felt like I could change. Like I wasn’t trapped feeling overweight and angry at other people who pointed it out. I held onto those words like a life preserver through middle school. In middle school, everyone starts to act weird, smell weird, sound weird – it’s just an all around weird time. I was too engrossed with exploring my weird to really pay much attention to my body image. What a weirdly blissful time.

I will be the first to say that I hated high school. I had some good experiences, but I would never, ever want to go through any of it ever again. I played volleyball throughout high school and loved (still do!) the sport. Have you ever seen a girl’s volleyball uniform? Tight jersey, spandex and socks. My thin and very fit teammates rocked their uniforms, but I couldn’t help but feel inferior. Whenever people saw me in my volleyball uniform I assumed they thought, “She must be on the bench. No one who plays volleyball looks like that.” Dramatic and harsh, I know, but that’s how I felt. Once I made the varsity time my junior year, we had extra conditioning and weight lifting. I took what exercises we did there and carried them over into the off-season, hoping to transform myself into someone who looked like they should play volleyball. I did begin to tone up and be okay talking about my body and weight, but only in the context of how I didn’t want cellulite or stretch marks.

My senior year of high school, the summer that followed and the first semester of my freshman year of college I was focusing on having fun. Consequently, I gained about 25 pounds during that time period. I hadn’t realized how much weight I had gained until my friends began to post photos of us all together on Facebook. I kept thinking to myself “It’s the lighting,” “It’s a bad angle,” “I don’t actually look like that” when the truth was – yes, I did look like that. For the first time in years, I felt like the chubby kid on the playground again. Only this time, I was the only person making fun of my weight, no one else. Like I did in the third grade, I got mean. I was snarky, judgmental,my grades began to slip – I was not in a good place, I was sad.

At the end of my freshman year I met Tucker. I was still struggling with my body weight and how I viewed myself. I knew I had to make a change, I wanted to make a change, but change seemed too hard. It wasn’t until  the end of my sophomore year that I began to understand that whatever my shape or size, I was just fine. I realized that I was unhappy and that it was my unhappiness, not my weight, that was making me unhappy. I began to cut ties with those who were not adding positivity to my life and made my severance in November of my junior year. I didn’t realize how much these relationships weighed on my heart, dampened my personality and affected my psyche. It wasn’t until my mom mentioned that I seemed happier that I made this connection.

Through healthful eating, lots of walking and a more positive mind set, I have lost those 25 pounds and have come to be proud of this body I was born with. I’m not rail thin, I’m not overweight, I’m happy. That’s not to say that there aren’t days when I need to check my attitude a little more often than usual or remind myself that the comparison game doesn’t do any good, but these instances occur far less often than they once did.

For those who are struggling with their body image, I challenge you to take a look at your life: the people in it, your feelings, your loves, everything. As you’re thinking through all of these things, make note of the things that make your toes curl, skin crawl or make you roll your eyes -it might be time to part ways.

Like I said before, I’m not expert. I can only share what I’ve learned through my personal experiences. That being said, I can listen. If you need someone to talk to, want advice or want to exchange dog memes, I’m here for you – mylittleboxoftricks@gmail.com

What has helped you overcome your struggle with body image?

 

 

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50 thoughts on “My Struggle With Body Image

  1. Mackenzie says:

    Thank you for such an honest post! I feel like body image is such a complex thing for girls with all these expectations placed onto us for what we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to look like. I find that I am only truly happy with myself when I am able to exercise and be active, which is why it’s such a huge part of my life!

    • My Little Box of Tricks says:

      You’re exactly right! I feel as though there should be a movement for women especially to just, I don’t know, do something that they’ve always wanted to do – for the sake of it making them happy. I’m curious to know what would happen. Happy Tuesday!

  2. Colette says:

    I applaud your courage and strength. Sharing this, this is a gift. I understand and I empathize. I understand body image issues and know they reside in the very core of your being. Other people can’t fix it or even assist. But let me tell you what I see and have seen since our first meeting; a beautiful young woman with an eye catching smile, glorious hair, eyes that share her soul, a strong, healthy body and legs for days! A caring soul that supports and loves deeply, a patient woman, a bonus in my life I would not want to live without.

    • My Little Box of Tricks says:

      Thank you for your incredibly kind words, Colette. It’s not an easy time for anyone figuring out how each of us (and our bodies) fit within the larger world. It’s weird how much our physical appearance and our feelings about our physical appearance can have so much impact on our behavior. What has helped me more and more overcome my insecurities and frustrations has been the wonderful company I keep :)

  3. Tiffani says:

    Kristine, I absolutely love this! And I love you for sharing it! My story is SO similar to yours! I’ve struggled for as long as I can remember with my body image, and growing up an athlete only made it worse because so many of my friends were super thin too! I love how positive you are, and this post is so great, I think you’re beautiful and I know Tucker does too!

    XoXo,
    Tiffani

    • My Little Box of Tricks says:

      Thank you for your sweet words, Tiffani. As you know, no struggle is an “easy” struggle, but what makes it worth struggling through is the company that you keep. I love seeing how happy traveling, Tommy, your family and Sophie make you. You are beautiful on the inside and out <3

  4. fairyprincessjord says:

    I love that you felt brave enough and open enough to share your struggles with body image here. I think all women/girls no matter what size struggle with body image at some point. I know I felt too awkward, ugly and gawky for the longest time. I started to gain confidence in high school but it wasn’t until college that I truly became comfortable in my own skin. I think it is so great you are able to love yourself and your body. I don’t believe in an “ideal body type” because everyone’s healthy weight is different. Focusing on living a happy and healthy life is what I see as ideal! Great post girl!

  5. Savannah Ward says:

    Kristine,

    Thank you so much for opening up and sharing this post!! <3 I recently found a great quote that says,

    "Those extra 5-10 pounds, that place where your body naturally wants to be – that's your life. That's your late night pizza with your man, that Sunday morning bottomless brunch, your favorite cupcake in the whole entire world because you wanted to treat yourself. Those 5-10 pounds are your favorite memories, your unforgettable trips, your celebrations of life. Those extra 5-10 pounds are your spontaneity, your freedom, your love."

    Be kind to yourself, beautiful! You've got this whole blogging world right behind you :) Especially me. With lots of GIFs. I wish I could put them in comments.

    xoxo Savannah

  6. Annaliese says:

    I always love posts from bloggers which dig a bit deeper and aren’t afraid to discuss the real issues! Go you for sharing what is on your heart! <3 I haven't personally struggled with body image very much, but I have had lots of other personal struggles. What I have learned as I've gotten older is that we all have our own struggles behind closed doors, whatever they might be about you. Beautiful writing!

    xoxo A
    http://www.southernbelleintraining.com

    • My Little Box of Tricks says:

      Annaliese, you are so right. Although topics of struggle may be different, it’s important to remember that everyone struggles. I’ve found that keeping that notion in mind when interacting with others has helped me become more compassionate and open-minded.

  7. Bria | Tendril Wild says:

    This is so good, Kristine. I’ve struggled with a negative body image from a pretty young age – around 12, I think. I’ve felt uncomfortable with and in my body, and I’ve definitely been a part of the “comparison game.” And it sucks.

    But over the last year, like you, I’ve started making healthier changes, and I’ve lost most of my college weight. Am I 100% satisfied where I am right now? Not completely, no. Am I in a better mental state? Absolutely.

    I’ve come to realize that it’s more about how we feel, how we treat others, what we do with our lives, etc. that matters – not how we look. And, the way others see us is so vastly different from how we see ourselves. Others don’t usually notice our flaws at all; that’s something to keep in mind. We judge ourselves so harshly when we really just need to be proud of ourselves for trying and doing our best.

    Great post! :)

    • My Little Box of Tricks says:

      I wish I could frame what you wrote, hell, maybe I will. SO much change can come from simply how we treat ourselves, others and how we think. It still baffles my mind how being more positive and purposeful in my actions has a HUGE ripple effect on how others interact with me and how I physically feel. I wish you nothing but success as you continue to navigate this crazy thing called life :)

  8. tcmdisqus says:

    I loved this post. I can relate to SO much of it! I was the “chubby” kid too and “developed” and went through my smelly weird phase starting in fourth grade! I was seriously teased for it! I started to have some really disordered eating habits (read: starving myself) by middle school… Magically I “evened out” in high school, but then went through some other stuff and by sophomore year in college had gained a lot of weight. It was through regular walking and a positive mindset that I finally learned balance and am SO HAPPY I did!

    Rachel | http://www.theconfusedmillennial.com

    • My Little Box of Tricks says:

      I can relate so much to your story. We all handle and fight through our insecurities differently, but what matters is that we each find our own happiness at the end of the day. I’m SO happy to hear that you found yours :)

  9. jennyblaisdell says:

    Kristine – I loved this post! I have struggled with body image as well – more so in the recent years. I loved how you were able to share your heart with us. <3

    xoxo, Jenny

  10. bendersk says:

    Thanks for your honesty and vulnerability, because I think there are a lot of people who may need to hear this kind of story and know that they aren’t alone. Way to go for taking care of yourself physically and emotionally!

  11. adriana says:

    I am sooo glad you shared this! It’s such an important topic; I’ve always been self conscious but as I get older, I’m beginning to grow out of it a little bit. It’s rough, but it’s amazing people like you who share their stories and such that help out so much!

  12. beautynerdbynight says:

    Thank you for sharing this post! Like you, I’ve done so much but have never been “thin”. I finally accepted that and I feel so much better about my body. Eating healthy and exercise makes me so happy now. I’m glad you’re happy about your body now, as you should be! This is an amazing post!

  13. aluiza__ says:

    This was really lovely to read. I was the same growing up in that I was always the biggest out of all my friends. I was never overweight but I was always chubby. Once I hit middle school is when I realized that it. Funny how as kids one doesn’t have the same self awareness about looks or being thin. Since high school, I’ve struggled on and off with various eating disorders. I think that what you say about happiness really is spot on! At both ends of the scale (thinnest and heaviest), I was unhappy with other outside factors in my life. I think it’s time that I re-evaluate my life and look for the things that are causing me stress/joy and change my focus.
    Thank you for sharing your story. It really means the world to hear that others struggle with the same challenges that I’ve had for about a decade.
    xo – Ana Luiza

    • My Little Box of Tricks says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. I also find comfort in knowing that I’m not alone in my struggles. I hope that you continue to find happiness in each day in spite of all of the curveballs life throws at you <3

  14. Kelly says:

    Body image is such a tough topic. Hearing my boyfriend’s very thin 13 year old daughter call herself fat is heartbreaking. Thank you for your honesty in sharing your struggle!

  15. ciarasebecke says:

    Wow! This is so powerful. I can really relate to this. I think most girls go through a similar struggle in middle school/ high school. Unlike you, I didn’t turn mean but would skip meals or do other things to prevent gaining weight. Now, I am so confident and love my body (usually), although it is the same body I had back then. I think I realized that I was the only one who cared that I wasn’t stick thin. No one else saw me as chubby but myself. This is so encouraging and I wish that everyone else who went or is going through the same struggle can find their inner confidence and acceptance.

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