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.

Copyright Elizabeth Hisle. Powered by Blogger.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...