body image

29 Jul

I just read this article (blog?) by professional female runners who have body image issues. (Side note: There are also some interesting articles by them about the serious lack of women participating in ultras.) Wait…women who are crushing ultras, who are 5 feet tall and barely 100 pounds, women who are solid muscle, some of the strongest PEOPLE in the world…they have body image issues, too????

 

I’ve always had some pretty deep seated body image issues.  From hearing as a kid that I should stop running around so much because my legs were too muscular and not “feminine” enough.  From overhearing the popular girls at school saying that I was cute but my legs were too thick.  From forever being the “skinny Minnie” because I wasn’t really skinny (and then subsequently having my body compared to other girls’ bodies).  From growing up and watching the beautiful women in college diet and point out their flaws.  From watching TV and flipping through magazines and seeing what “beauty” was and realizing it wasn’t me and never would be (no matter what, I’ll never be 5′ 10″ with long legs…)

 

Infertility has compounded that in a thousand ways.  There are a bunch of different meds and they can be combined in a bunch of different ways.  They can make you gain weight.  They can bloat you.  They can make you break out.  Basically anything that can make you feel uncomfortable in your own skin, like you’re a teenager in high school again…  Every night that Eric has had to pinch my belly fat to give me my shot, I thought, “OMG my husband is pinching my stomach fat right now. This is humiliation at its finest. Why is he even with my disgusting self anymore?”  It’s easy to get caught up in those thoughts–my body is a flawed, unlovable mess–especially in those moments injecting drugs on the couch, especially when things aren’t going well and the only results of all the stomach-fat-pinching are more stomach fat/bloat to pinch.

 

I hate seeing myself in running pictures.  I always look terrible–I forever have bitch face (because I’m concentrating, I suppose), my legs look short and squat (especially if the picture captures that moment when your foot is touching down on the ground–NO ONE looks good right then) and my stomach is always fat.  I. Hate. Them.    Every now and then I see one that is not the worst picture ever and am all “maybe the tide is finally turning and I’m going to start looking good in running pictures.” Then another one comes out, and I’m like, “welp, there it is…back to square one.” I’m working on getting over it.  I mean…not many people look good running an ultra, right?????

 

But as much as I hate seeing how I look in pictures, the truth is, I can’t hate my body when I’m actually in the moment, actually running.   I can’t hate the body that has carried me up, down, all around some pretty beautiful places and accomplished some pretty awesome things.  I’ve seen amazing things because my “thick” legs have brought me to them.  We’ve done an awful lot, me and this “flawed” body of mine.

 

It’s just one more reason that I love running.  Because running has taught me that I’m not just “thick.”  I’m strong.  Super strong.  I can hike a 46er (fast), I can run 50 miles all at once, I can hike with a 20-30 pound pack on my back all day long, I can swim, canoe for miles, ride a mountain bike, lug around a sobbing kindergartener until she knows that she is loved and going to be ok and can stop crying for her mommy…

body image

This quote was in my head a bunch on Saturday.

I’ve been trying really hard to be better about body image.  I’ve toyed recently with throwing out the bathroom scale–it’s been bothering me too much lately.  I’m trying to care more about how I feel, who I am inside, how my clothes fit, getting faster, going farther, climbing more, rather than the number on the scale.  For some reason, Mendon made me really think a lot about this, and the quote about Mother Theresa went through my head about a million times…it’s one of my favorites all-time.  Power hiking up some of those hills last Saturday, hands on my thighs, I realized how solid they have become–I could feel the muscles with every step, pushing my body forward.  And instead of feeling sad that I didn’t have “girly legs” (whatever that means) or ashamed that I was “too muscular,” I was proud of the hard work and adventure that has built my body (and mind) into what it is–and excited to see what new adventures are waiting for us.  Because the truth is that every body is flawed, even the beautiful superstars in the magazines.  And if I had to choose between having my flawed-but-strong body or being the girl in the magazines, I would pick me.  Every single time.

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3 Responses to “body image”

  1. mallory November 12, 2015 at 11:13 pm #

    Love reading your blog. I’ve been tall as a freaking palm tree since 3rd grade so i can’t relate to squatty legs, but as far as skin goes i am slowly dying inside. I’ve had perfect skin my entire life, until i went off my birth control in November of last year (how the hell is it already a year?) my skin has gone crazy (and painful) even a year out. I have no idea what the hell the birth control did to me to make this happen, but it seriously hurts! I thought it would be temporary (my plan was to get pregnant, but i didnt/havent, and then go back to birth control which now that ive been off it a year it seems more like a sedative) and my doctors cant do anything to help. i feel like wearing a paper bag over my head most of the time! I’ve even thought oh yayyyy its dark outside now so no one in the running groups can see my face and it will be my only time in the day without makeup! why is the body so complicated? Feels like my own is against me. Your posts help me feel less alone, hugs 🙂 (ps. youre a hero for lugging the crying kindergartner around)

    • shmeruns November 12, 2015 at 11:23 pm #

      ughhhh skin issues are the worst! i’m sorry. 😦 I think you’re beautiful (inside and out). and I think we always notice “flaws”, even when no one else can see them.

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