Body Image

@postaday 296; #postaday2011.

Ever since my mom put me on my first diet at age 13, I’ve been self conscious about my body. I didn’t know I was a chubette. I remember a week or two of salad, hot dog omelets, and no bread. I lost 13 pounds in 10 days. I was surprised. She was happy. Thus began my tumultuous relationship with food, the scale, my mother, and my body image.

When I went to basic training with the U.S. Air Force at age 18, we ate three meals a day, were in bed by 10 and up by 555 a.m., we marched for miles, and we also had to run 1.5 miles in less than 20 minutes. I gained a pound a week in the last three weeks. It floored me. It was muscle, but it was also a number, which disturbed me very much.

Just 20 years old and I thought I was a fatso. What a waste of time it is to beat ourselves up!

I look back at photos from when I was younger, and I see this healthy looking and very fit young lady who believed she was a big fat pig. What did I miss out on with such a preoccupation getting in the way?

Check out this Facebook page, This is My Body Project. It’s about getting a grip on the reality of your physical self and accepting it. Still, it’s hard to rewire one’s sense of self.

There are three camps:

  • You can look in the mirror and think how fat you are and let that work for you. You can let it keep you from eating or drinking too much. You can use it to motivate you to work out a lot.
  • You can look in the mirror and think how fat you are and say there is no point in trying to change, there’s no point in cutting back. I’m old, I’m over the hill, I’m invisible, what does anyone care?
  • You can look in the mirror and think OK, this is what I’ve got, what can I do about it?
It is very difficult to think positive about ourselves when there are so many messages about beauty in our world. Models are skinny beauties made skinnier and more beautiful with software. When I look at magazines and see perfect teeth, six-pack abs, poreless skin, and smooth, silky hair, it’s hard not to let the unreasonable expectations bleed into your psyche. It’s so easy to go on a diet with Photoshop, as this video explains.
Now that I’m a mom to two daughters, I do what I can to help them see themselves as complete packages, young women with talents in development. It’s my hope that their talents will precede them, and that their looks, because I do think they are quite lovely girls, will ease other aspects of life for them. Let’s be truthful. Brains earn people their success. Beauty opens doors. I think my daughters possess both.

By lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer survivor. English Language Arts teacher, English Learners Coordinator, and Paraprofessional Tutor. Super sub teacher. Dormant triathlete. Road cyclist and Masters swimmer. Gardener. Mrs. Fixit. Random dancer. Music Curator. A teenager trapped in an aging body. Did you know 60 is the new 40? It is.


  1. It’s definitely clear how much the media has distorted the concept of beauty, it’s so sad to think of girls growing up with the all the pressures of society. Good post, thanks for sharing!

  2. Paula, I have to admit, this post made me cry. I had/have the exact same experience. Even at my ‘skinniest’ at age 17, I thought I was a “cow”. An interesting story (maybe): After explaining to my very fit husband the background of my body issues, several months went by and we were at my folks house going through pictures of me as a teenager and 20 something (the time in life when I really hated how I looked most). He didn’t really say anything until later when he asked “so where were the pictures where you were fat?” or something to that effect. I think my jaw dropped, and I said something like, “Hello? Did you not SEE the pictures we looked at today?” then he looked at me like I was the crazy one. Powerful moment for me. Made me realize I still had and have such a distorted view of myself thanks to all that “good intentioned” mothering and dieting. Oh, this journey is an interesting one. SO glad your girls have YOU 😀

  3. It’s called Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Basically you think your fat or ugly or whatever despite what you see in the miror. I struggle with my weight now and didn’t when I was younger. I’m slowly learning to just deal

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