Holt: Body image isn't everything
When I was a preteen and teen, there was no "thinspo" or "fitspo." There was no Facebook. No one had cellphones. Thank God for that. Most of my ideas about female body image came from magazines. First it was YM and Seventeen, then I "graduated" t...
When I was a preteen and teen, there was no "thinspo" or "fitspo." There was no Facebook. No one had cellphones. Thank God for that.
Most of my ideas about female body image came from magazines. First it was YM and Seventeen, then I "graduated" to Glamour and Cosmopolitan.
I grew up in a one-TV household with four or five channels. No MTV. Limited access to video vixens and others I might aspire to look like.
I don't remember what she said about them, but I know my mom mentioned the models on at least one occasion. I reassured her that they had no effect on me. I was wrong.
My body size was fairly normal until about my senior year of high school, but I established patterns of negative self-talk early on.
"You're fat." "You're ugly." "You're gross." I even wrote out some of those vile thoughts in journals.
I lay awake at night thinking about everything I'd change. Hair: Smoother and straighter. Eyes: Bigger. Longer, darker eyelashes. Skin: Clear and tan.
If I could pick a "perfect" body off a shelf, it'd be a svelte, toned and tight size 6 (or smaller). Even when I did reach a size 6, then a 4 and a 2, I thought my thighs were too big (ha!).
I remember being shocked and surprised when a salesgirl at Wet Seal suggested I go a size down when I was trying on pants. I had a "Who am I?" moment looking in the mirror, as I did at the opposite end of the spectrum.
I'm by no means shallow, and I don't judge others for their looks or size, but it's ridiculous how much time I spent thinking about my own looks and size, especially during my formative years.
Most teenage girls have hangups about their bodies, as do teenage boys, and grown men and women. This is nothing new.
Whether we have issues with weight or not, we all have things we don't like about our appearance. We're human, and we're imperfect.
The images we see depicting beauty are illusions, or enhanced versions of a very small percentage of the general population.
All we can do is strive to look and feel our best, and realize our bodies only represent part of who we are - the packages we happen to come in.
I've tried to use my weight-loss journey as an opportunity to change how I view my body. Fitness has helped me think of it in terms of function.
I may have flabby arms, but they can move furniture up three flights of stairs. My legs may be thick, but they can lift over 300 pounds at the gym.
Besides, even if I did look like my "ideal," formed back in the mid-'90s, would I really be happy? Would I really be satisfied? I think not.
Forum reporter Meredith Holt has lost 105 pounds since May 2010. She will share stories of her weight-loss journey in her column, which runs the first and third Friday of each month in SheSays.