Conquering body image fears

Me, last summer, doing my best Stevie Nicks impersonation at Venice beach.

It’s no secret that I have body image fears and body issues.

First of all, I’m a woman so that is kind of a prerequisite. Also, I grew up with a slew of daddy issues stemming from my parent’s divorce. Strike number two. Lastly, I was the girl that developed early…the girl with thick thighs and hips in a sea of classmates with “little girl” bodies…the “chunky” one in the group of skinny friends, the big girl, the fat girl, etc. etc.

It wasn’t until I got married and became a mother that I truly accepted my body for what it is: strong, healthy, capable of carrying six lives in my womb and birthing them in a powerful squat during the early morning hours inside a birth tub. In my kitchen, no less (you’ve got to love homebirths). Forget worrying about cellulite and arm flab and a squishy stomach — I was in awe at the miracle my body performed over and over again. It was amazing.

How could I possibly hate the flesh that my children loved to snuggle with, the body my husband has loved and caressed for the past twenty years?

My body issues have come a long way. At least, I thought so.

After perusing Facebook a few days ago, I came across this lovely photo of Carol Cain from Girl Gone Travel, zip-lining into a cenote somewhere in Mexico and looking like she was getting her life in the most incredible way.

I always wanted to experience a cenote, the magical turquoise pools the Mayans used for religious purposes. It’s totally on my bucket list.

Doesn’t Carol look like she is having the time of her life?

Those old insecurities piped up with a quickness.

Before I even commented on this photo, I had talked myself out of ever going to Mexico and experiencing something as amazing as swimming in a cenote after I heard that she had to be zip-lined into the cenote because it was in such a remote area.  Before I even got on a plane to Mexico. Just like that, with a few clicks of my keyboard. I knew my insecurities were on full display as I left her this comment:

“Swimming in a cenote is on my bucket list although I’ll admit my fear is the zip line. Sadly, I think the zip line would have scared me away from the idea entirely. Methinks they’re not big girl friendly.”

I mean, seriously. Big people and zip lines just don’t go together. I’ve often contemplated what it must feel like to fly through the trees, wind my hair and strapped into one of those safety belts. I bet it’s amazing. But that nagging voice of fear and self-doubt wouldn’t shut up: girl, those cables would not be able to hold you. You’d have to lose about fifty pounds before you could consider getting close to a zip-line.

Carol wrote this lovely post titled: My Tips for Empowering Yourself by Defining Your Own Identity and she confirmed what I had been doing to myself for years and still struggle with: placing borders and limitations upon myself based on my size, my age, my financial parameters, and my “situation” (whatever it may be at the time).

Fear has a lot to do with it.

Not believing in myself.
Thinking I am too big, too slow, too poor, too weak, too ____ to do anything.
Feeling like the security of being a SAHM and my family safety bubble was enough.

I’ve experienced so many moments in my life where fear threatened to dominate me. And I’ve put on my big girl chonies and told myself to BUCK UP.

Blogging has caused me to travel to different places over the past couple of years. That may not seem like a big deal, but flying across the country alone (several times) was pretty major for me. Going to Arizona and Utah, hiking to a national monument in a hundred degree plus heat was also major. So was carelessly jumping off a boat into Lake Powell for a swim with my amigas. And finally, squeezing those luscious thighs into a kayak…that was major, too.

Kayaking on Lake Powell was easy with Captain Maggie doing all the paddling.

But I get what Carol is saying. I remember what it felt like each and every time I accomplished something I didn’t think I could do. Something that was bigger than myself.

I felt ten feet tall.
I felt like I could conquer all of my fears — like they no longer had a hold over me anymore.
I felt…amazing!

I want to feel that way again. I know I will.

Conquering my body image fears may take a lifetime, but I’m okay with it. There is so much to learn in the journey.

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There are 7 comments

  1. Tracy /

    Nodding my head along with your post. Our bodies are capable, amazing, powerful – I try to remember to talk to myself the way I’d talk to a friend. We are often cruel to ourselves. Life is too short not to enjoy everything that is there to be enjoyed and to thank our bodies each day for performing what we ask. I’m in my mid-thirties now so my body doesn’t always perform what I ask without complaint, but in a way that reminds me to appreciate it all the more – in honor of the years I wasted degrading it and not enjoying it to its fullest potential when it was in even better shape than it is now. I don’t want to be 60, 70, 80 and look back on my 30’s with the same regret. It’s a constant process – learning to hush the negative voices – real and imagined. (Abrazos!)

  2. Chris / What I Run Into

    Thank you for posting such a personal story about body image. I love that you got out there and just made it happen. And yes, your body is not just – your body is STRONG. Don’t forget that.

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