How I Learned to Love My Body | A Rose in Bloom

Can I make a confession? I love these pictures of myself. I mean, I love taking pictures of myself anywayfor obvious reasons (this is a personal style blog after all). Can I make another confession? I didn't always love my appearance. Yes, yes, I know what you're thinking. I am a young, pretty girl who has a lot to be thankful for. I just needed time to realize it.






Dress: Betsey Johnson (na)
Shoes: Green Day Converse 
Earrings: Handmade Peru Jewelry

In high school and college I was a performer. I did ballet and acting. As one would imagine, ballet was spent wearing leotards and tights in a room full of girls - most of whom were smaller than me. I mean, I'm 5'7" and 150 lbs. It's hard not to be smaller than me in a dance class. Regardless, it was never anything that should have been a big deal. Despite reason, I envied some of those girls with a dark passion that makes shame creep to my cheeks. I hated that I had been given big hips with a large butt and what felt like huge thighs while my friends had thin, graceful legs. To make matters worse, my hips blossomed way before my chest so, as I was so aptly told on many an occasion, I looked like a thermometer turned upside down where the mercury was my bottom end and the rest of me was one long stick. As a result, I  was ashamed and wouldn't dance without a ballet skirt. Unlike every other ballerina in the world, I never wanted a tutu because my parents told me tutus weren't for girls with giant thighs. Stiff tutus were for girls who worked hard to have slim legs and never ate junk food (which I didn't, by the way). Now, before we go further, I know what you're thinking. A ballerina with an eating disorder and body image issues? Say it ain't so! Yeah, yeah, I've heard it. But I really don't think ballet was the root cause my struggles. It went a little deeper.

The truth is, my mother's struggle with weight loss probably played more into my observations than ballet did. My mother has struggled with her weight my entire life and, while she meant well, it messed with my head for years.  She was constantly giving me clothes to hide my hips and exercises to slim my thighs. Mom made me wear long shirts to "hide" my light-bulb bottom. She would pad shorter blouses to make it look like I had a bigger chest "to even things out." She would point out other girls in my classes to give me body goals. Apparently, I just wasn't stretching my legs enough to lead to those slim, graceful tutu legs. Not only was this thinking blatantly false (when your hip bones are wide you won't ever have size 2 thighs at 5' 7" - sorry), it was damaging to my developing mind. It gave me unrealistic goals that eventually led to an eating disorder and depression - something I still struggle with to this day.*

Throughout my dancing career I continued to notice body characteristics of other dancers long after Mom stopped being involved in my extracurricular activities. I wanted those bodies so badly despite knowing that I lacked the strength and talent to ever be a professional dancer. I just wanted to be as close to a "real" dancer as I could be. If I could have have grazed my fingers across the clouds of dance, that would have been enough for my young mind. If only I was thinner there would be less friction and I could turn more. If I weighed less I could jump higher and come down lighter. If I was 25 pounds smaller I could do partnering. These are the thoughts that hissed in my mind as I routinely ate half of what I wanted and constantly measured myself. Yet, deep inside, I knew I would never be much smaller than I was

I don't know if I ever had a "real" problem, but fast forward to college and I was just so tired of it. So tired of being hungry. So tired of working out all the time. So tired of buying the smallest size top and making myself fit into it and going hungry to make sure I could still fit into it. I quit trying to be tiny because I realized that at 5'7" and 150 lbs, it just wasn't going to happen. Plus, I wanted to enjoy late night Taco Bell drive thru while sitting drunk in the backseat with my fellow actors. I'm being honest! I craved normality. So whatever, I moved out and started eating normally and didn't think anything of it. I was very fortunate that I had not progressed to the point of needing rehab. I really am grateful that I was mostly able to just make the switch to eating 3 small meals a day - even if it was highly portion controlled at first.  I was also blessed with a great support group through my friends and I will forever be grateful to them for restoring my golden years.

Fast forward a bit. I got married, moved away, found a new dance studio full of people like me (aka, dancers dancing for the love of dance despite injuries and age), and was no longer worried about my parents criticizing my weight because I so rarely saw them. Yep, I thought I was all done with my body image issues and eating disorders. It hadn't plagued me for years when BAM! I found out I was a D cup and my jeans were too small. I didn't know that it's actually fairly common to change a little past 25 - especially if you used to exercise 20 hours a week and drop to 5. Out of ignorance, I ate less, felt guilty about what I did eat, and constantly checked my pants size to see if I could squeeze into my old jeans. I hated that they wouldn't come up past my bum. I wouldn't even post outfit pictures from behind on this blog because I was afraid the world would snicker at my gigantic derriere! If I took pictures and thought anyone might call me fat, I didn't post them. This time around, my husband who pointed out how ridiculous I was being and offered to take me shopping for real jeans that fit me properly and to be proud of what I was given.

As we went to fitting rooms to buy new pairs, he pointed out that no one was looking to see if I had a light-bulb butt, and if they are then screw 'em for being judgmental pricks. My husband has a total "don't give a crap" attitude that I love and respect and am slowly learning to adopt for myself. Anyway, that day in the fitting room led to tons of progress, but it was not the only thing that made me stop caring. Nope, I got a rude awakening when I realized that my pant size is one size away from what is apparently plus sized in most fashion stores. For the record, I'm a 31. Most fashion stores don't sell past 31 or 32. This is unacceptable, but that's a rant for another post. The point is, learning that fact changed me. Instead of depressed, I got angry in the store as I stared in disbelief at the shelves of neatly folded denim rejecting people who had been born differently.

You see, body frames are dictated by science and genetics. You can't change the width of your bones anymore than you can change your height. Instead, learn to love and care for the gift you received. Looking at shopping racks made me realize that I am the one who can change my mindset. I don't care what anyone else may or may not think about my body anymore, least of all the fashion or dance world. For the first time in my life, I am proud of what I have. I am proud of my natural curves. I am proud to wear a size 31 jean. I am proud that my thighs touch and my rib-cage has spread. The fact that many brands top out at my size is not my problem. It's theirs.

So today, I've moved on from that point in my life. Today, I choose to beautiful. I choose to be proud of who I am. Forever and always, I will choose to  feel beautiful. Let's do it together! Will you join me in being proud of your natural body?




*My mother is not a bad person and she didn't mean to hurt me. I personally think she may have her own, unrealized image issues that she passed on to me because she deemed it as normal. This post is not intended to make you think ill of her or to present her as a negative person. She has many truly wonderful qualities to counter act the bad ones as we all do.

P.S. Thank you if you read this whole thing. I was actually really difficult and really painful to write and I think I rewrote it 5 times. So thank you. I've never publicly admitted these things before today.

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18 comments

  1. Yes, I read the whole thing, and I must say thank you for being so honest. Your words touched me, and I want to remember them next time I look in the mirror.
    It's the beauty on the inside that really counts, and I want to say: you are beautiful.
    I only just discovered your blog, and already I've been blessed. Thank you. :)

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    1. Thank you so much. I sent another heartfelt thanks on your blog. I'm just so glad that people are not bothered by a personal but, in my opinion, important topic. I hope you remember to have self confidence each day!

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  2. Really wonderful, heartfelt post. Thank you for having the courage to write about this. I think that so many women unfortunately are made to feel bad about their bodies. And I agree. I am sure your mother is not a bad person - I am sure she was exposed to the very same media that we are that teaches us that a woman's worth is found in the size of her pants. It is so wonderful that you have managed to find a happy medium where you can look in the mirror and love the person staring back at you.

    Rae | Love from Berlin

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    1. Regarding my mom: exactly what you said. She was taught you needed to look a certain way so she passed it on. It's time for this generation to kick that to the curb. Thank you for reading.

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  3. Thanks for writing AND publishing this post. I think it's something that many people deal with but do not necessarily want to talk about. I know I have attempted to write a "deep" post before and I never published it--I don't think I really have the courage to share my feelings if they are not light or positive on my blog, so I commend you for being able to tell and like it is, and I'm happy to see that you have come out on top and love yourself for who you are!
    I used to dance when I was younger and I remember feeling the same way in a leotard. I was never thin as a kid (I later became thin in high school probably due to all of the sports I did and my crazy diet plans) later gained weight in college (hello freshman 15, maybe even 20) and after college have had fluctuations due to whatever reasons. I've always been self-conscious of my stomach and wasn't always pleased with my bigger thighs/butt. Maybe only a few years ago I started feeling better about my body image and I think I can thank two things...one of them is understandable and the other is kind of crazy and I'm sure you'll laugh but it's the truth! So the first one was my husband who makes me feel like I'm perfect the way that I am. As much as approval from others shouldn't matter, it is nice to know that the person you love loves you just the way you are. And the second one....the Kardashians......When I arrived to Argentina, I spent the first few months sitting around in my then boyfriend's apartment, pretty depressed, not knowing what to do with myself. Well instead of trying to be proactive, I binge watched every available season of the Kardashians. Seeing them be confident in their own skin and embracing their curves made me start to think differently of myself. Obviously I don't look like a Kardashian haha but you see where I'm going, and at that point in time, that helped me.
    Now, after all this can I say that I'm 100% confident in my body image? No, but I feel much better than I used to. I no longer weigh myself constantly like I used to...(Now I weigh myself about once or twice a year when I am in the US and trying to figure out if I my suitcase is overweight to travel haha)
    I also don't count calories...Well until recently...not to say I count, but I did do a food journal after my doorman told me it looked like I gained weight (but I did stop after a week )... here we go again! Anyway...

    I admire your confidence and I think this post is so inspiring! It is true that we all need to learn to love ourselves. So, THANK YOU for sharing this.

    For someone who just said they don't like to share too many "deep" things, I feel like I just wrote a novel here haha

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    1. Haha, and what a great novel it is. I totally agree with your points though. Having a significant other who reassures you is very helpful. It's just plain nice. Also, super funny, but the Kardashians totally helped me too! I haven't seen much of the show, but they are prominent enough in pop culture for everyone to know that they don't really give a damn what you think - especially Kim, who is not a small lady. She wears what she wants! Besides a few weird moments (grandma's couch dress anyone?) Kim has a solid style that does NOT revolve around body shame. She embraces what she's got and rocks it. Plus, it's so inspiring to finally have someone famous that flaunts high fashion and isn't the size of a pencil. I actually love watching her outfits because it's hugely inspiring for me to see someone dress curves so well.

      And... I just realized that the Kardashian fame has spawned something positive on society. Oh wow. I think the Apocalypse may have just started lol.

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  4. There is an odd (and romanticised) beauty here: I've only started following your blog a few days a go, and the second post I read from you is this, something I have, as an irrationally insecure eighteen year old, deal with. I've got so much I want to say, but all I can think of saying right now is thank you. Sharing this must've been a huge step for you, so thank you. You've helped a girl out a tiny bit here, so thank you.

    For the record, I think you're absolutely beautiful, and your grace and elegance as a dancer definitely shines through in your photos. Have a lovely September, Liz.

    May | THE MAYDEN

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    1. I am so happy to have helped you, even a smidge. We're all irrationally insecure sometimes so I feel like it's important to encourage each other. You are very welcome, and thank you for your kind words. Have a great week, dear. :)

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  5. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I love that your embrace your body and these photos because they are beautiful.

    http://www.racheldinh.com

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  6. Thank you so much for writing this post! I've always struggled with self esteem and body image issues. When people in my class were complaining about their bodies and I joined in, they would always get mad at me. "What are YOU complaining about? You're so skinny" they'd say. I don't think that it matter's what your body looks like, most people don't like the way that theirs looks. There's no perfect body, and comparing yourself to other people can be so harmful. I struggle with it a lot, and I really appreciate you writing this post ♥
    Amy xx

    Little Moon Dragon

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    1. I think it's pretty crappy when people makes comments like that. Calling someone skinny is not nice either... Saying you have nothing to complain about because you are thin is a slap in the face. Everyone has something they don't like and we shouldn't judge or belittle anyone! Thank you for sharing you thoughts and I hope you begin to feel amazing in your own skin.

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  7. I loved this post so much and I, although my story is different from yours, could identify with what you say quite well.. I was diagnosed with purge anorexia at age 14 and only 92lbs at 5'9" – I'm recovering really well from it but I still hate myself at some days, fall back into old habits and think I'm weak for having gained a lot of weight back since then. It's so frustrating and hard, especially when you realize that thoughts are something that is probably never really completely going to stop.
    But I think you can be extremely proud of yourself for having been strong enough to get over it and recover! <3

    Micky♡
    http://princessfromjupiter.blogspot.com

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    1. Firstly, I am so sorry you had to go through that. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Secondly, I definitely know what you mean about the thoughts. Yes, they do lurk in dark corners waiting to grab you when you're most vulnerable. You are right in that these monsters never fully go away. We just have to get better at caging them. I hope your recovery continues to be successful and you begin to find your own pride. You can do it!

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  8. This post is really inspiring. I can relate to you in some way because I struggled with my weight for a long time. I was always ashamed because of my belly fat and I never felt good enough. At one point of my life I realized that my depression and self hate doesnt help me or makes me skinnier. After that I started working out and surrounded myself with positivity. I didnt lost much weight but I learned to love my body and be proud of it and I think it is the most important thing. After reading what you wrote I am sure in the one thing and that is that you have a really beautiful mind and that is priceless. I hope your story will inspire a lot of girls and teach them how to love their body. One more thing, even if your size 31 I think you look compleatly stunning and you are really photogenic. Stay strong and have a great day.xx :)

    http://iamlena92x.blogspot.hr/

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    1. Thank you so much for your kindness - I appreciate it more than you can know. I hope everyone learns to be happy with themselves and, while I admittedly was nervous at first, I am really glad I shared this story. If it changes one person's life then every word was worth my time. Good luck on your journey and you also stay strong!

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