Pollyanna Battles the Body Image of Doom

Lyda here. I’ve spent hours and days and weeks working on this post. Bear with me. I’m going to post it even though it’s long and weird and… anyway, here it is. Scary, kids!

It started with this post on this blog. It included a link to this article about a study showing that some extra weight is not going to make you KEEL OVER AND DIE RIGHT THIS MINUTE. What a relief!

I know ya’ll needed to hear about this. We’re very public-servicey like that here at PRS Ltd. Oh, lordie, I’m digressing again. Seriously, ya’ll, I have been working on this post for days and days. Ya’ll can tell I’m freaking, because I just said “lordie.” Someone hold my hand.

And then, she posted this. With a link to this blog, Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose, and this post. Really funny. And since I was there, I also read Kate’s post on insane diet tips. Anna-Liza, you will love #5.

Some of ya’ll may remember a rant  polite missive about people who judge others by their size, and people who intrude on private matters such as an individual’s food and beverage choices. There may be something in there about these people being not unlike certain barnyard fowl.

I just read this article about fat in art. It lead me to artist Fernando Botero, and this painting titled “Woman Drinking With Cat”. That title says it all, doesn’t it?

And there’s Laurie‘s post about never dieting again.

So, I’ve thinking about all this. I’ve been thinking about my own Body Image of Doom.

I once wrote of a character in a story, “She carried the extra weight as if it was an awkward package that a stranger had asked her to hold it for a minute. She was just keeping it until someone claimed it. It certainly didn’t belong to her.”

I carry myself as if…

As if I am apologizing all the time. Trying to make myself more palatable. Trying to be invisible.

Pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain.

A psychologist once told me that adults who were abused as children are often overweight. Because in that child’s mind, being big meant being in control. Being big was powerful. Being big was safe. This really hit me between the eyes. I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

I have felt fat as long as I can remember. No matter what I actually weighed or what shape I was actually in, I’ve punished myself for not being “thin”.

I’ve either been on a diet, or thought I should be on a diet, or been rebelling from the last diet – since I was sixteen. I did the math. Thirty-two years.

I look at the pictures from the year I got married, and I see a too-thin young woman wearing clothes too tight for comfort. Misery is visible in her face. My face. I look back through the years, and see a woman who sometimes was at the “right” weight – but it shows on my face that I don’t believe it’s right. I don’t believe I’m right.

Along with the weight issues, I have middle-aged issues I’m 48 now, holy hell when did that happen?, skin issues,  and blah blah blah.

And I have fibromyalgia, which affects how I feel physically and in every other way – and interferes with my sleep, as if I needed more to interfere with sleep, what with the cleaning obsession and the TV addiction and the single momhood and all… but here I go, digressing again. Fibromyalgia really affects how I feel about my body.

At this moment in my life, I am not “too thin” by anyone’s definition. Except maybe Rubens.

Heh. I thought I was thinking of Rodin, but I wasn’t. (Get it? Thinking? The Thinker? Lame. So very lame.) And I couldn’t remember how to spell his name, either. I typed ‘Rodan’ – not the same thing at all. Although Rodan might prefer women of my current size, he’s usually too busy fighting Godzilla to stop for a snack. What a goofball I am. And oh, the digressing!

In keeping with this Pollyanna’s resolution to learn to be gentle with myself this year, I am resisting starting yet another diet, yet another round of my Battle over my Bulge.

In keeping with my intention of being gentle, I do not want to battle my fibromyalgia for control of my life.

I do not want to “fight the signs of aging” like the commercials say.

I want the war to be over. No more punishment, no more guilt, no more judgement.

No more using the fat as a shield, as a fortress, as an excuse.

No more endless search for the perfect meds for the fibromyalgia. No more hating my body for this condition.

No more freaking out over the gray hair, the age spots, the wrinkles.

Oh, see, now I’m thinking, “Geez, no wonder I haven’t had a date in so long.” Menz, call now and prove me wrong. Please.

I have cookies.

And tequila.

Oh, I’m digressing again, aren’t I?

No more blaming my body. No more judging my body as…

Ugly. 

Damaged.

Broken.

Wrong.

No more Body Image of Doom.

Time for the war to be over. Time for peace.

I want to learn to like my body, just as it is right now.

So, how does this start?

Baby steps. One does not enter a toddler in the New York Marathon.

As Anna-Liza says, we don’t want a plan that goes:

“Step 1: You are a monster. Everything you’ve ever done was wrong. Everything you are doing is wrong. Change it all. RIGHT NOW. OR DIE.”

and ends:

“Step 3: A miracle occurs.”

What the hell would Step 2 be like!??!!

I suspect we all have an inkling. I suspect we’ve all been there. I suspect we’ve all gotten embroiled in Step 2 until we ran screaming away. And then sat in the corner eating our hair.

And an entire tub of ice cream.

Or is it just me?

So, here are some gentle ideas. In the first person, because I am not the boss of you. It could be argued that I’m not the boss of me, either. But let’s not open THAT door at this juncture.

Juncture. Doesn’t that sound like something Foul Ole Ron would mumble… “Millenium hand and shrimp. Juncture of boobls.” Heh. Wait, how did we get into this? Oh, yeah. Digression, thy name is Me.

Anyway, here are some gentle ideas. Feel free to add your own in the comments; I can use all the help I can get.

* Once a day, say something nice about myself to myself. I love my hands. When I look at them, I see all the terrific things I can do with them.

* Notice small fabulous things about my body and about me. Right now, my fingernails are shining in the light.

* When someone complements me, TAKE A BREATH AND SAY NOTHING FOR A SECOND OR TWO. Let the complement get inside my head. Then say, “Thank you.”

* Say “thank you” to my body too. Thank you, hands, for typing this.

* Play music loud and dance around to it. Remember when we used to do this? So what if I feel dorky and stupid? Who is watching but the cat? 

Masters level: Dance around in front of the people who love me. They already know I’m a dork!  PhD level: Dance around in the presence of strangers. They’ll be wondering how dorky they look, anyway. 

Note to self: Do not attempt to start at PhD level.

* Sing along. One night, I was singing “Shiny happy people holding hands…” on the way home and laughing. Shiny! And I now laugh every time I hear “You got the best of my duh.” Thanks, Marin!

* Spend more time with people who think I’m great. They may be delusional, but then again, maybe not.

* Spend more time resting and relaxing. Doing stuff I like. Wine optional. Talking to BFF on the phone. Napping. Watching funny movies. Quilting. Knitting. Laughing…

Reading your blogs.

You know.

The good stuff.

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5 thoughts on “Pollyanna Battles the Body Image of Doom

  1. mintlatte

    Well, all I can say is I am no lightweight either, and I completely identify with a lot of what you are saying. It can be so hard to just believe we are actually OK, and it is darn hard to find a corner of the world where you can just feel safe in your own skin…..

    Reply
  2. Kelly

    I carry myself as if…

    As if I am apologizing all the time. Trying to make myself more palatable. Trying to be invisible.

    Pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain.

    Lyda, this is SO me! I’m right there with ya my sistah. I’m going to do the non-diet thing like Laurie. I’m sick of being fat, but even sicker of trying all the diet crap, ya know? Yes, of course you know!

    XOXO

    Reply
  3. lyda Post author

    Ya’ll are so awesome. I was so scared to even write about all this!

    mintlatte – To be safe in my own skin – yes! I guess this blog is part of my corner of the world, where I can feel safe.

    Kelly – Sick of the diet crap – oh yes, I do know! How much time have I wasted standing frozen in the grocery aisle, trying to figure out what food to get… arghhh!

    Marin – I agree! And I think you are FABULOUS too!

    Stupid pointy mountains…

    Reply
  4. Kerri Adair

    I don’t know you, and have never “posted on a blog”, but from one witty, sardonic, ironic and unabashedly honest woman with FMS and “issues” etc. to another, I think you are brilliant! Keep up the great work and know you’ve touched people in places and ways you don’t even know! – Kerri

    Reply

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