Jennifer Gilby Roberts

Women's Fiction/Chick Lit Author

Me and My Body

on July 2, 2014

I never used to struggle with body image.  I wasn’t skinny, but I’d accepted I wasn’t going to be.  Nature had made me curvy and muscular and even when I lost weight that didn’t change.  I never aspired to look like a super model.

But, in recent years, things have changed.  I’ve gained quite a bit of weight.  According to my BMI I’m obese, although I think I’m one of those for who it’s not wholly accurate.  I definitely have extra flesh on me, though.  And with it has come feelings of embarrassment and shame.  I’ve found myself feeling bad about eating anything not ‘healthy’ in public, even though all my (skinnier) friends were.  And that’s silly, because we all know people who eat crap and don’t exercise and are still stick-thin.  Equally, I’m willing to bet we all know people (though we may not realise it) who eat healthily and do a reasonable amount of exercise and are still overweight.  Nature does play a part.  So do age and health.

I’ve been reading a book about overcoming compulsive eating – emotional eating, to give it another name.  One of the things that it’s helped me see is how counter-productive it is to beat yourself up for being overweight.  Because, if you’re anything like me, feeling bad leads to comfort eating, which leads to more weight gain, which makes me feel worse about myself and so I start round again.  It’s crazy.  I think I’ve got the message now that I need to accept what I look like.

The book suggested a few things which I’ve tried.  The first was to get a full-length mirror and spend time each day looking at myself.  The idea is to look without judging and get used to how you look, rather than avoiding it.  Then, look for your best points.

photoI’m going to walk the walk here and share a mirror selfie of what I look like right now.  This is me.  No body-shaper underwear, make-up or anything else.  I’d be lying if I said I was entirely happy with my body, but I’m working on it.  What about my best points?  Well, I have boobs that many women would kill for.  I have a longish neck.  I have quite a nice face – I like my eyes.  I love the colour of my hair (not natural, I admit).  I have small feet, which means I can buy kids trainers which are cheaper.  I also have small hands and I like them too.  I like being short because it makes me feel feminine next to my husband, even with my less-than-delicate figure.

The second tip was to give or pack away any clothes that don’t fit or that you don’t feel you look nice in, and, if you don’t have enough left, buy some new ones.  The clingy jersey tops I used to wear now highlight every bulge.  I put something like that on and I instantly feel fat and ugly.  But I’ve got some gypsy tops and others in a looser fit – patterns seem to be good for concealing lumps and bumps as well – and in those I feel relatively attractive.  No outfit is going to take off three stone, but clothes that suit your figure really do make a big difference.

[If you don’t have much spare money, look in charity shops/thrift stores, discount chains, ebay etc..  If you’ve got none, maybe you have a friend you can swap clothes with.]

Now, of course, it’s summer.  Which means bathing suits.  There’s something to be done with different stylessummer size zero and cover-ups, but it’s still a lot of flesh to show.  I can’t claim I won’t feel envious of the bathing suit beauties on the beach, but I’m still going to be there enjoying myself.  Being overweight doesn’t mean I don’t deserve to enjoy the summer.  Worst case, if anyone gets into trouble, I’ll be much more use as a flotation device.

If nothing else, my little daughter will be with me on holiday.  What kind of message will I give to her if I hide away because of flab?  Should she be overweight at some point in her life, I certainly don’t want her to do that.  I want her to go out and live and tell anyone who doesn’t like it to sod off.  I saw a thing on Facebook that started ‘I was 7 when I discovered my mum was fat, ugly and disgusting.  Up until then, I’d thought she was beautiful.’  I sure as hell don’t want my daughter saying something like that when she grows up.  Admittedly, she’s only 2 right now.  But she’s going to grow, so I’d better start working on my body image now so she gets the right messages when she’s old enough to understand them.

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14 responses to “Me and My Body

  1. Bryn "The Mad Badger" Roberts says:

    You always have been, and always will be, the most gorgeous woman I know, and I’m incredibly proud to be seen by your side!

    Long live curvaceousness! 🙂

  2. You have a pretty face and you’re right you got curves. I prefer curvaceous body… looks sexier than pure bones and skin. I share the same sentiments about getting more weight and thinking what might our kids think ocf our appearance once they understand stuff like that. After I had my first baby I “ballooned” as my friends tell me. I successfully to dropped few kilos recently after doing regular long walks and exercise. Good luck to you!

  3. Lisa says:

    well I have had recent issues with body image and the being “overweight” but for me I have quite a difficult time to loose weight of course 16 years and 3 kids dont help either but I have started to be comfortable in my own skin again and not rely on what others tell me unless I want to hear from them.. nice to know there are others theat suffer the same as me.. 🙂

  4. Mark Gardner says:

    Body image was what prompted me to write Body Rentals. (I still reread your Amazon review when I’m feeling down.) Personally, I find the stick figure supermodel look to be sickly. Women are supposed to be curvy, especially after having children. As long as you’re healthy, you shouldn’t care what you think others think about your body.

    • The trouble is that ‘healthy’ still isn’t what’s promoted by the media. All these celebrity mums who don’t eat enough while they’re pregnant and then diet back to their former figures in weeks promote practices that aren’t good for mother or baby.

  5. Becky Monson says:

    Sheesh, you and I have so much in common, it’s getting a little scary. 🙂 I too suffer from the hating-my-body syndrome and I really appreciated this post because it reminded me that I need to take a step back and find the positives instead of beating myself up like I did tonight after my 3rd piece of pizza. 🙂 What is the book you are reading? Reminds me of Geneen Roth – she has fantastic advice on breaking free from dieting.

    My go-to outfit this summer is large billowy tank-tops with short-sleeve cardigans over the top. It’s flattering and I’ve noticed that when I don’t dress frumpy, I don’t feel frumpy. I also like to wear fun jewelry – makes me feel feminine… and shoes. I do love shoes.

    Here’s to loving our bodies more and setting good examples to our children! Thanks for this fab post! xoxo

    • The book is called Overcoming Overeating. I’ve only read the first part so far, but I’m finding it helpful. First day of our holiday today and I’ve been feeling pretty good about being out in a swimsuit. When you look around, there are plenty of other people with less than perfect bodies. The important thing is enjoying yourself.

  6. I thought this was a lovely, brave piece and I was so happy to see the first comment. I think, in most cases, our partners don’t care what we look like, as long as we feel good about ourselves and are willing to flaunt what we have when the time is right 😉
    As a society, we’ve definitely seen too many pictures of women who are unnaturally and unhealhily thin (and then photoshopped some more) and I do indeed know of people who can run marathons but are then told they’re overweight.
    I don’t hate my body, and like you, I have a little list of bits I like, but I don’t think any woman whoops with delight when she’s out buying a swimsuit and looks in the mirror. I think, though, as I get a little older (and have started to experience problems such as creaky knees), I can be more grateful for a body that’s strong and functional, rather than one which would win a bikini contest. I’m fitter now than I was 20 years ago and that’s good enough for me.

    • I wish I could see myself through my husband’s eyes. At first I thought he was just being nice, but over the years I’ve had to accept that he really does find me permanently sexy and gorgeous. Seriously, NOTHING puts him off. If I could bottle that, I’d make a fortune.

      And I agree with you about health being more important. If I was given the choice, I’d choose new knees over a flat stomach.

      • Bryn "The Mad Badger" Roberts says:

        And would you like to take a wild stab in the dark about why I find you so sexy? BECAUSE YOU ARE!

        I would love you, and find you gorgeous, irrespective of any changes to ypur ‘outer’ shape, because the sexiest part of you is inside your head 🙂

        … doesn’t stop me thinking (and, generally saying) phwoaar whenever I see you, though 😉

  7. […] remember that I talked about working on having a positive body image.  I’ve even started up a Pinterest board with some inspiration on it.  I had been feeling […]

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