Thursday, December 29, 2011

Struggling with Body Image: Part 3

I love my hazel eyes. They are not the beautiful green that I wanted them to be. They are not a gorgeous blue that everyone fawns over. No, but they have gold flakes near the center and a gorgeous blue ring around the outside, and they change color depending on my mood and, sometimes, my clothing.

I hope you've been with me for my first two posts. If not, you'll find links to both at the end of this post. Both of those posts have focused a great deal on me and my experience and opinion on this topic. And, while I LOVE to talk, which those who follow me on Twitter will no doubt verify, I do not want these post to be just about me. These posts are about women in general. They are for women. I have added my own stories, experiences, woven them into the posts in order to be true to the heart of my purpose. I'm not just trying to help women, girls, men...I'm trying to help me as well. I still struggle. As do many of you. 

However, I have exceptional people that I know who are willing to walk along this rocky path with me. Hand in hand. A dear friend of mine, Lou, a.k.a. @MonsterMaX3, a.k.a. Hashtag Queen, from Between the Covers has offered up her own story, her own struggle.  I am so honored to have her be here today to share with you. 

Take it awaaaay, Lou...

*pauses for dramatic applause to subside*

*  *  *

So, when I was younger I was really skinny. I mean REALLY skinny. It wasn't that I dieted...I definitely could have used a few more meals. It was my body. I have an insanely active metabolism which kept me very underweight. In this pic...

...I was topping the scales at 102 pounds. About 15 of that is probably the hair. *laughs*

I never dieted. As you can see, I didn't need to. But weight was never my thing, that wasn't the issue that I had. 

See... *points to young Lou* ... that girl? When she would look in the mirror what she saw was the quintessential ugly duckling... in the still ugly phase. 

She hated how she looked. Her nose was too big. Her teeth weren't perfect, despite braces. She had naturally pink cheeks, and OMG were they ever fat! She had freckles, and a chickenpox scar. She was too skinny and didn't have any curves. Boobs? What were those? (For the record, at 102 I was a B / C cup, which was completely fine for my body size.) She had scars on her knees and one on her chin. And her hair was the most B-O-R-I-N-G color of brown! *UGH*

I look back at that picture now and I still vividly recall how I felt when it was taken, how I felt when I saw it. I cringed. All I could think was "Oh, God... why do I have to be so ugly when everyone else looked so pretty?"

But now I have some time... it's none of your business how much.. and distance and, much more importantly, life experience, under my belt. I can look at that picture and see that I was damn cute. I wasn't going to stop traffic, but I was a pretty girl. My eyes and my smile were and still are my best features. *fidgets and gives the shifty eyes* I still think my nose is too big, but I've accepted that it's my nose and I'm stuck with it. *shrugs* I never claimed perfection. Well, okay... I did, but we all knew I was BSing. The point is that somewhere along the way I not only grew up, I grew comfortable in my own skin. 

I like how I look and think I look damn good for a woman of... an unannounced age with three children, one of whom is grown and of legal drinking age. (Do the math and I'll kick your ass. Or have Kyla break out the Krav on you.) I look back at that picture and wish I could go back in time and tell that girl that she IS pretty. Because she could have used the self-confidence.

I wouldn't undo my life. Nor would I do it over. But there are things I wish I could change and how I saw myself, how I felt about myself for so many years, is one of them. 

I'm now a mom with two daughters and I'm doing my best to raise them as confident girls / women. Some days I see I'm doing okay with that. Others I feel I'm failing them miserably. *shrugs* I don't hold the key to the answers. I'm also raising a boy who I hope never looks at any female and uses her looks or her lack of self-esteem against her. Judging by his girlfriends, I don't think I have. I'm calling that one a win. *laughs*

I suggested that Ky use this picture of me because I think it's important to show that body image issues don't always have to do with weight, that they stem from all different kinds of reasons. And from none at all. But most people would look at that picture of me and think I had no body image issues. Why would that girl have any? They would be wrong. Insecurity comes in all shapes, sizes and forms. No one is exempt. Not even skinny brainiac cheerleaders. 

I love...

*  *  *

Thank you so much, Lou, for sharing that with us. For allowing us to see yet another aspect of body image distortion. I would also like to grab the DeLorean and smack super, skinny, young Lou around a bit. But that's just me. I am sincerely grateful to you for sharing with us.

I'd like to transition now and include a couple more of my ladies, who, like Lou, have graciously provided me with pictures of themselves. Who have shared with me, with you, what it is about themselves that they love. Finding those things that you love about your body--no matter how small--can be a great start to helping you along this bumpy road.

I would like to leave you today with information regarding a website I stumbled upon while doing research for these posts. Healthy is the New Skinny is an incredible organization that uses natural models, has programs for schools, colleges, universities, reaching out about health, self-esteem and transformation.

Healthy is the New Skinny is a multi-platform movement to bring a message of health, joy, and responsibility to the beauty and the fashion industries. Through bold and creative initiatives, HNS works with media, corporate, and modeling partners to create lasting change. -from 

By far, one of the most powerful images I have seen, is the one below. Katie Halchishick, founder of Healthy is the New Skinny, poses with an iconic figure of beauty. The photo appeared in an issue of O Magazine in November 2011. The dotted lines indicated where she "needs" cosmetic surgery in order to be "beautiful".

Below, Katie discusses the reaction to this picture from others and how it affected her. She is an amazing woman. She is absolutely gorgeous just the way she is and she has a wonderful energy that comes through in the video.
It’s really unfair to assume that anyone regardless of how they look don’t have issues with themselves on any level.

And, on the topic of Barbie. A young student creates a life-size Barbie. Sorry, Barbie, but I wouldn't want your body.

There are many ways in which women struggle with body issues. Lou is correct, it's not always weight. I also agree with Katie, that assuming someone that you view as beautiful, can't have issues, can't struggle...that takes away part of who they are. I have made that mistake, but more in an I'm-completely-shocked-you-could-struggle way. I'd never deny anyone their rocky road (the path in life or the ice cream). 

Thank you for stopping by. Please take a moment to comment, here or on Twitter. Men, women...anyone. I love to hear from you. Have you had similar experiences? Know anyone who has? 

Also, be on the lookout. I'll be continuing with this series as the week progresses.

Struggling with Body Image: Part 4
Struggling with Body Image: Part 2


  1. I also like my jaw line in that picture.

    To be truthful, I have always struggled most with my body shape. I have never been overweight, but my bottom half is decidedly bigger than my top half, and I'm still attempting to accept it.

    I really should have forced myself to submit a picture that showed my entire body.

  2. @Amanda @ On a Book Bender *clears throat* You may certainly submit another picture. What a great idea! Lol. It is your choice, your journey, Amanda. You are beautiful. You are *coughs* slightly, adorable insane. And I love you. If you want to submit another picture, hell if you want to write a novel on it, I'll post it.


  3. Thanks Kyla. I am really enjoying your posts. It is eye opening to me to see thin girls with body image issues. It totally blows my mind. My favorite part of my body are my smile because it is big and the same as my son's, and my muscles because they make me strong and shapely. I'm not yet able to love the fat rolls that cover my big muscles but I could work on that.

  4. I love these posts, Kyla. <3

    Lou, like you, I was super skinny when I was a teen. I had people actually come up and tell me to eat and ask if I was anorexic. It didn’t help that I was as pale as pale could be with hereditary dark circles around my eyes LOL. My 3yo daughter is already in 5Ts and I try not to get annoyed when people comment on her long legs and small frame :-/. I want my daughter to love her body and not feel ashamed of being tall and thin – I don’t want her to have the body issues I had.

  5. I know exactly what that's like...cringing at pictures...still do at times...we have our good days and bad days and it's hard not to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others.

    Great series, Kyla!

  6. @Anonymous

    As the skinny girl in question, I can tell you that I think all women must suffer from some body image issue. I don't think any of us are exempt. We all have things that we don't like about our bodies. It is one hell of a fight to reach the point that you love your body and recognize that WHO you are is and always was more important than how you look. And size nor shape matters in that equation.

    Much love for posting your fears and thoughts.

    ~ Louise

  7. @Janice

    Janice, I was 5'7" and 98 lbs. I can't tell you how many times I was called anorexic. I wasn't and never have been. It's just my body. And it was really embarrassing as a teen to have to change clothes in the locker room and look like a skeleton... my ribs always showed. I did look unhealthy, I know it. But it wasn't intentional. I ate like crazy, and while being athletic obviously didn't help me gain weight... burning calories like whoa... I don't think it would have made a difference.

    I was laid up for MONTHS last year after an auto accident blew out my spine. It was 7 months of forced inactivity. I gained 2 lbs. That is all. My body still has a very active metabolism... just not as much as in my teens.

    Part of me recognizes that I am lucky, especially now that I am at a healthier weight. But growing up, it was very hard to be different, and super skinny is very different.

  8. @Angela Addams

    I look at that picture now and I don't know what the heck my problem was. But then... I almost cried when I saw it. The way we see ourselves can be so destructive.

  9. @Angela Addams

    I look at that picture now and I don't know what the heck my problem was. But then... I almost cried when I saw it. The way we see ourselves can be so destructive.

  10. Another fantastic post! :) <3
    That woman is so gorgeous just the way she is. What do I love about my body? It produced my son. My body did what it was supposed to do, designed to do, and did it well. The rest is just window dressing. ;)

  11. Woop woop! Bloody awesome, just like the last two! It's about time that people spoke up about what REAL beauty is about, give's us hope and more importantly the young girls that are growing up in a world that is even more image obsessed that it was for us! xoxo



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