Feminism Doesn’t Mean You Love Your Body All the Time


And when you're planning a wedding? Girl, please

woman with her feet in a lake

I was hoping that by the time I got here—to the days leading up to my wedding—my deep-rooted obsession with being thin would have magically evaporated. It’s humiliating to admit that lately I spend hours every day dwelling on this topic. It’s my own self-consciousness over how pathetic that feels that’s kept me from writing about it—until now.

I’m keenly aware of the fact that I am a cliché: a white girl who grew up in the suburbs with no medical reason to worry about her weight, yet who is narrowly focused on bringing the number on the scale (and around her waist) down as low as possible. Many of my friends growing up shared the same preoccupation, all to varying degrees.

The many ways I internalized the belief that I’m not thin enough could be taken straight from a trite teen movie. I am not unique, I am not interesting, and there is no special snowflake quality to my struggles with diet, exercise, and body image. Now tack on the part about getting married, and I’ve become a caricature of myself. You can practically hear me about to ask if this font makes me look fat.

When I first got engaged, I knew I would be hit with messages about “looking my best.” I knew it might knock me off my game a little bit—I had been in a pretty good place with my body image, content with my physical health, and not meticulously tracking the inches or pounds. As I’m wont to do, I figured I was too smart to be affected by the occasional bridal weight loss message because I’m a savvy feminist consumer of media. Ha.

“how much weight do you want to lose before the wedding?”

The first person who asked me if I’d be losing weight for the wedding was a female coworker. I remember being floored that she would ask such a question (though she wouldn’t be the first), and I also remember quickly snapping back that, nope, I do plenty for my health already—what’s there to change before my wedding? (Feigning confidence is my second-favorite coping mechanism, right behind making jokes.)

Regardless of whether the confidence was feigned, I wasn’t wrong. I am (knock on wood) in relatively good health. When I’m at my most levelheaded, I maintain good habits—habits that don’t veer into obsession. When I’m at my best, I’ll eat a mostly healthy diet and allow the occasional fried cheese curd or margarita without spiraling into some dark abyss of guilt. I’ll miss a workout and shrug it off, because it’s not a big deal and I recognize that. The rational version of myself understands these things.

The neurotic version of myself, at her worst, treats every workout like a critical life-or-death mission. She mourns every half donut, or to use a recent example, punishes herself for drinking a ginger ale mere days before her wedding. That’s what finally pushed me to start typing away right now: a rogue ginger ale, 230 calories. That’s all it takes for me to fall down the rabbit hole.

A very good friend once posed the question: what happens when a person gets down to her “ideal” weight? Does she find happiness overnight because she’s lighter than she once was?

the origin story

It seems like a cop-out to blame my insecurities on ~the media~ when there is a plethora of reasons I’ve spent life since age twelve (as first documented in a long-lost online diary) wishing I could be slighter than I am. But I’m not immune to third-person effect, and I’ve performed my own little study to keep track of messages I’m served related to weight loss and body image. My methodology for this very scientific work was to, uh, take screenshots every time I was served a message related to weight loss or body image. But then I ran out of space on my phone and accidentally deleted a bunch of screenshots, including all the ridiculous bridal boot camp ads I was getting on Facebook, so this is all I have left. It’s some of Pinterest’s recommended content for me:

When I’m not seeing things clearly, one of these dumb promoted pins that pops up as I’m pinning can escalate quickly. Similarly, I might see a before-and-after side-by-side photo of a woman on Instagram and think, “But her ‘before’ looks like me now.” Next thing I know, my brain is running laps around itself in panic.

Or: A coworker laments how skinny she used to be. I look at her and think, “But you’re skinnier than me now.” Once again, I become a dog chasing its tail. I can’t let go of this notion that I am not thin enough, even if the idea sprung out of a comment someone else made—a comment that had nothing to do with me. I have an ugly habit of benchmarking myself against others when my only benchmark should be myself, my health, and my happiness.

the tools to outgrow my insecurities

Self-awareness is tricky—I’m reminded again of how silly I feel for writing about this, because as a vocal, self-proclaimed feminist, shouldn’t I know better? In my late twenties, shouldn’t I have graduated from obsessing over my weight to caring about something more substantial, especially at a time when I should be focusing on just about anything but my hip-to-waist ratio?

Wedding planning has been an unwelcome reminder that these insecurities continue to require time and effort to untangle, even though they first sprouted in adolescence, and even though I theoretically know better than to use meaningless measures like my weight as a gauge for self-worth. Unlike what those terrible ads on the sides of websites will have you believe, there is no One Amazing Trick This Feminist Used To Finally Move Past Her Body Image Issues! I’m not there yet. For all my feminism and for all my knowing better, this is where I am right now.

But I have the tools to start moving past this. Eventually. Slowly. I recognize that it’s useless to shame myself for my own insecurities—that’s not productive. But it is helpful to be able to recognize when I’m being destructive and to gently remind myself that the ginger ale calories are inconsequential, and the missed boxing class this week isn’t going to hurt anyone, least of all me. I may not fully believe these things yet, but I know them to be true, and I’m convinced that counts for something.

Lauren Sieben

Lauren Sieben is a writer living in the Midwest. By day she works in public relations and by night she writes on feminism, fitness, feelings, and other f-words.

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  • idkmybffjill

    Ugh this is so real, thank you for sharing.

    I had no aim to lose any weight for my wedding, and bought my wedding dress at the size that I measured for when I tried it on. Our engagement was/is about 18 months (getting married in just over 2 weeks!), I bought my dress about a year out, and my weight fluctuated. At one point I got pneumonia/took steroids – which made me gain weight, and there was a fitting at which my dress didn’t fit.

    As a person who thought she’d overcome a history of disordered eating… there was straight up no worse a trigger than owning the most expensive dress I’d ever owned, and knowing that my only option was to lose weight in order to wear it. While I am deeply grateful I didn’t spiral out of control – if this had happened maybe 4 years ago? I’m not sure I’d have made it through without a relapse.

    I thought I’d beat the game by not ordering a size down, etc, etc and I still ended up in a place where I had to lose weight for my wedding. And the disappointment in being “that girl” was the worst. But also taught me extra empathy for any stories I’d heard of brides slimming down. I’d always sort of thought, why would they do that! Why wouldn’t they just want to look like themselves! None of my business, is the answer.

    • Shawna

      Oh god that last fitting. My mom and sister came with me on the day we were to pick up my dress and…it didn’t fit. My mom looked at me and said, “gained weight, huh?” And that was all it took. I knew she would say something at some point, but I was trying so so hard to not put pressure on myself about the fact that I had gained weight and was still gaining weight thanks to grad school and the insane stress of planning a wedding while studying for boards and preparing to start a business aka come to the conclusion that I would be facing a mountain of debt for the first time and as the foundation for my marriage. Yay. Somehow I didn’t cry.

      Turned out my wonderful dressmaker had just forgotten to take into account what adding the bra cups would do to the circumference of the ribcage area. Oops. She was able to let it out and I went back to pick it up by myself in two days (with absolutely no pomp). But those two days were crazy because I started to spiral about what would happen if my custom dress didn’t fit the week before my wedding.

      I’m still not happy with my body’s appearance, BUT I am glad I was able to (mostly) put aside the pressure of changing the added weight situation during wedding planning. There was just too much going on. Instead, after the honeymoon I joined the gym my husband goes to and got a personal trainer for two months. The expense was hard to stomach, but my husband said to think of it as a gift from him and not part of our shared finances. He saw that I wanted to feel better about myself and my fitness ability. I returned to dance, testing out the waters. Most days I can go twice a week (unless my foot pain prevents me). And now, I just finished my last personal training session this morning and I feel like I know my way around a gym again, I have a series of workouts I can repeat on my own, a buddy to go with (my husband who will get me up in the morning to go with him before work), and, most importantly, I can feel myself getting stronger. My body hasn’t changed yet – still the same weight, but slight changes in measurements that indicate some muscles. However, I can feel the difference when I dance and walk. I can hold plank for a bit longer, actually do a few push-ups, know I’m using the right muscles when I go up stairs, etc. That’s the feeling of accomplishment I’m here for. I still have really low days where I feel terrible about how I look, but thankfully going to dance or the gym makes me feel strong. Especially when I blare Britney in my headphones while doing ab work or bicep curls. Highly, highly recommend.

      I can’t thank my husband enough for being the one who makes sure I eat, even if it’s not the healthiest option we’re both trying to choose over alternatives. He tells me he’s proud of me after every workout. Having a cheerleader at home quashing all the negative voices and helping me through this mess means so so much.

      • idkmybffjill

        Mannnnn moms. I’m so impressed you didn’t cry. Mine was with me during my appointment where it didn’t fit too, she handled it really gracefully during the appointment, but afterward was like, “Did it feel so wonderful having it back on?” – and I had to be like… no I it was really devastating.

        Then she sent me diet pills and meal replacement powder, which is her way of being helpful but she can’t seem to connect those things as parts of our life and my former ED. My fiance just threw them right in the trash for me and I was able to just focus on zeroing in on mindful eating, and luckily had several months still to go before the wedding.

        • Shawna

          *hugs*

          • idkmybffjill

            Thank you! :)

        • flashphase

          oof. i’m so sorry!

          • idkmybffjill

            Thanks! It totally worked out, and honestly was a pretty awesome reminder of how good for me my brand new baby family is.

            My mom is a fantastic, wonderful, kind, generous person – she just never really learned how to eat healthfully and passed that on to me. Her solution growing up (while my dad was in the picture for sure, they’re divorced, so 90% of meals were just the two of us) to weightloss was to just… eat less. We had a lot of rice-a-roni only meals. I remember her doing “fasts” pretty regularly. She later learned about supplements, etc, and so genuinely sees those as a healthy means to an end (as opposed to eating more vegetables, less sugar, etc), that it would genuinely never occur to her that it wouldn’t be a kind thing to send me. Obviously I could tell her but she gets so so emotional when we talk about my ED that sometimes it just isn’t worth it to make it a thing.

      • Kalë

        On moms: I think I’ve said this on here before, but semi-recently, the topic of weight came up casually. My mom asked me how much I weigh right now (148 lbs – perfectly healthy for my height) and then goes, “Oh, that’s how much I weighed when I was pregnant with you!” -_- moms, man

        • AP

          *headdesk*

  • Jess

    Solidarity.

    I had to practice looking very bored when my mom/MOH/Bridesmaids talked about wanting to lose a certain amount of weight “for my wedding” because if they were losing weight, they clearly were implying that I needed to (they weren’t).

    I reported weight loss ads as “not something that interests me” on both Pinterest and FB. I saw significantly less of them as time went on. Not that seeing them was awful, but a million paper cuts add up, and repeated five second flashes of, “I shouldn’t have had that extra pizza slice” hurt. I’m glad I had the anger present the first few I saw to make that happen.

    I signed up for a half marathon that took place the week before my wedding because I feel best about myself when I’m using my body for something. I straight up told R when I was struggling and asked him to make sure I ate.

    I had to find my own strategies to limit how much I let my thinking go back, and it was worth the effort.

    • Cellistec

      I love the mental image of practicing looking bored as preparation for dealing with other people’s inane comments.

      • Jess

        I’m sure it was hilarious! I would practice sighing and flat delivery at home, or take mental notes of my body language in meetings I was bored in.

        Because obviously practice makes perfect!

    • LittleOwl

      Yes to blocking on Pinterest and FB!! I did that recently and it has improved my life so much.

      • Lisa

        I downloaded an adblocker to get rid of the Facebook ads. It looks so different now when I view the site on browser’s without one installed!

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      What also helps with Facebook is removing your gender. (They may have taken that option away, so it’s possible your best option is changing it so something more neutral or more male. Ha.) If they don’t know for sure you’re a ladytype person, they send you adverts for camping supplies instead of diets.

      • Jess

        Camping supplies are actually relevant to my interests!

  • LittleOwl

    I felt so much pressure to control everything about my wedding- the weather, my skin, my weight- because we are unfairly messaged that we CAN and SHOULD try to control those (uncontrollable) things. It’s too much!

  • Anon for this

    Thank you for sharing. I didn’t really deal with this for my wedding, but am now really struggling with my shape and how fit (or not) I feel while looking ahead to pregnancy in the near future and thinking oh my god, what will happen to me then? How much harder will it get to look the way I’d like to? It gets really depressing because it feels like I am just a liiiiitle bit outside what I’d be comfortable with (I’m not looking for washboard abs, here), and yet I don’t have enough control to tighten it up just that much (how much would I ever be satisfied with? I don’t know). I distinctly remember things my mom used to say about her body when I was a little kid and I can hear them in my head about my own body…the same tummy fat that we wish we could just “cut off with a pair of scissors.” Ugh. And so there’s another thing…trying to get in a good enough headspace that I’m not saying that sort of thing in front of future children.

    • Jess

      Yeah, it really upsets me when I think about all the ways my mom passed her insecurities on to me. I don’t know how to be in a great headspace, but I do know I can not verbalize the things I think at myself.

      I’m hoping that helps the young people in my life have a better relationship with their bodies.

      • idkmybffjill

        This is one of my fiance & I’s most important things for future kids. Teaching them healthy eating habits and not mentioning body insecurities. I’m sure we’ll fail along the way, but I hope I can end the cycle of ED in my family with me!

      • Elizabeth

        My mother very carefully and very deliberately did not say anything negative about her body when I was a child — it wasn’t always completely hidden that she didn’t like everything but she was careful as she could be — and it really did help. She’s more open about it now that we’re adults which is somewhat difficult, hah, but nowhere near as much so as it would have been when we were kids, so I really appreciate it.

        • sofar

          My mom was the same way. Bodies were all about what they could DO rather than what they could look like, and I am SO SO SO grateful for that.

          And then I met my MIL, who has made me cry several times about my appearance. Talking about weight and hair and body flaws are normal small-talk to her, like talking about the weather. These days, I usually respond with some variation of, “Well YOU look so lovely! I wish I could pull that color off like you can!” or “Well, that’s what my hair looks like. I’ve had 30 years to get used to it!” Or I just laugh and say, “Your feedback has been noted!”

    • Ashlah

      To be honest, I’m a little worried about pregnancy too. I got to a good place with my body, then I lost weight, and I don’t know how it’ll feel to gain that weight, and more, back (in addition to all the other changes that come along with pregnancy). The actual act of running and using my body in a powerful way makes me feel good, so I’m hoping I’m able to continue doing that throughout pregnancy and after, but what if I can’t? And yeah, what if I continue working out the same way, but I don’t get close to the body I currently feel good about? I fear I’ll be starting my body acceptance journey from scratch, which is just a bummer. But I guess at least I know it’s possible?

      • Mary Jo TC

        Sitting here after having my second baby, I can say–it’s a mindfuck. Being pregnant and watching yourself gain more weight than you ever have and knowing it’s good and ok and healthy, then watching it either come off or not, while settling into a shape that might be totally new. My baby is almost 6 months old and I’ve plateaued with about 5 pounds left to lose, but I also don’t fit into about 1/3 of my prepregnancy pants and am a cup size bigger in the bra. I know most of it is because I’m not eating right, but lactating makes me hungry all the time! And this is something I know to watch for from last time–I have to be sure to adjust my eating when I stop breastfeeding in another 6-12 months, or I’ll instantly gain 5-10 pounds. My body image is bothering me more now than it did after the first baby because I think I wasn’t in as great shape going into my second pregnancy and exercised more when I had only one kid to keep track of, and I’m that much older. I wouldn’t say I’ve had to start my body acceptance journey from scratch, but that I’ve always already been working toward body acceptance, and the times when I’ve felt like I’ve gotten somewhere, those moments have been as fleeting and as they’ve been relieving.

        • Jess

          I am so concerned about all of the things you talk about, and in my more honest moments I recognize that vanity is one of many things holding me back from fully embracing the idea of one day trying to conceive.

          Not that it’s not important to prepare for the inevitability of body changes, but… getting to the point where I’m comfortable how I look now is a daily battle. Adding all the sudden changes from pregnancy and I’m just not confident in my emotional fortitude to handle it.

          • anon

            Vanity and body image are big reasons why I’m afraid of conceiving. The mothers in my life don’t help because all they do is harp on how their bodies changed for the worse due to pregnancy and say things like “enjoy your body now, it won’t last much longer!”

            My husband doesn’t help because part of him believes that talk about a woman’s body changing drastically during pregnancy is blown out of proportion, and women who can’t lose weight after pregnancy just aren’t willing to do the oh-so-simple work of losing weight. (Like it’s just oh-so-simple for everyone!)

            Which means I can’t get any level-headed, understanding feedback about my worries. I guess the only thing I have to look forward to is becoming yet another mother who hates her body and whose husband resents her for not “trying hard enough” to lose the weight.

          • Amy March

            Man, that is a serious empathy issue with your husband. And possibly something worth discussing in marital counseling before trying to have a baby, if that’s a thing you want to do.

          • anon

            If not counseling, then some very serious convos are necessary soon. I can tell he thinks his attitude is helpful – like, he’s negating the narrative that a woman’s body is automatically destroyed by pregnancy and she has no power over that. But he clearly doesn’t realize what a terrible job he’s doing.

          • idkmybffjill

            This is maybe one of those things that because he won’t (and couldn’t) experienc, he just doesn’t get to have an opinion about. I try to be very mindful of not cutting people out of conversations, but I kind of think this is one of those where he doesn’t get a vote.

            I’d compare it to a woman saying that getting kicked in the balls can’t possibly hurt that much or something. Like, that’s just not a thing I get to have an opinion about.

          • Jess

            This was an actual discussion we had once. I laid out the following:

            Not so Helpful – This thing you’re worried about probably won’t happen and can be easily mitigated by simply doing X.

            Helpful – You know what? Maybe this thing will happen. It’ll be ok if it does because you’re still you, and I love you.

            (Not sure if that helps you, but this was what I said!)

          • Her Lindsayship

            This is perfection and I think everyone should have this on a flash card on their person at all times.

          • Jess

            For what it’s worth, I do know mothers who feel pretty comfortable with their body afterwards (and @disqus_X3RPxk4odE:disqus above has a really good story about both dealing with some of the feelings and coming out mostly on top).

            I think sometimes it takes some real work, and supportive people in your life, to get to that point emotionally.

            I do hope that your husband can learn to appreciate what a huge change pregnancy can be, even if you never go through pregnancy yourself, because every pregnancy is different.

            Also? I think those fears are ok to have. It is a change, and it is scary to think you may not feel like your body is your own any more.

        • KateP

          Just dropped in to add a second vote for body image mindfuck. My first is 6 months too and yes, the scale says I have just a few pound to go (maybe my giant awful boobs?!?) but most of my pants still don’t fit. Add some birth injuries that prevented me from much exercise for awhile and now, it’s hard to start because I have never been so out of shape in my life! Skinniness has never been a goal for me, but I’ve always thought of myself as strong and athletic and running was my stress relief, so that’s made it hard to even see how to get back? And how to feel like a sexy person again when I feel so unlike me in my body is even harder. Although my husband still thinks I look hot and doesn’t understand how I feel very disconnected to my body. I mean, it’s amazing what my body did to make this little person and she’s awesome and it feels wrong to complain but it’s slow going to get comfortable with and feeling strong again in this new version of my body.

          • Mellie

            Hey, 6 months postpartum here too! High 5! I’m also having body image issues, and the fact that I’m having issues is bugging be even more than the issues themselves because I have worked SO hard for good body esteem. I’m used to being stocky/plump but I really have come to like my shape. I gained on the low side and felt awesome about my body during pregnancy (look at it doing it’s thing!) and everyone said I only looked pregnant from the front. I had an easy delivery and was able to get back into exercising quickly (I just did a weightlifting competition) and I guess I just assumed my comfy shape would come back, but nope, I still look like before but with a big lump on my tummy. Kind of look 4 months pregnant and I still weigh the same as my 6 week check up in spite of healthy eating and exercise (I refuse to actually diet beyond healthy living while breastfeeding or in general, really). My point is that I had a story in my head of what my body would do after birth and it was false and I need to get used to the reality and I thought I had better tools for that. Acceptance/positivity will come in time, and my body will continue to change, but I guess I just wanted to say that rooting out stories and expectations you have can be tricky even if you’ve done it before. Also, my daughter is SO COOL and it’s so worth it and she gives me motivation to get my head on straight so I can teach her to love herself.

      • Alexandra

        Pregnancy and childbirth effed my body up but good. I was a very athletic person before I had a kid, but the first one gave me a mild bladder prolapse that made my more hard core working out (crossfit and marathons) inadvisable. So now I can only walk/elliptical/swim. I really miss super hard workouts. And I miss my old, trusty athletic body, which has been replaced by this weird middle-aged flabby/wrinkly/pregnant body that I don’t recognize.

        Well, what are ya gonna do? I know things are going to get worse before they get better, because I’m in my third trimester. I’m going to a physical therapist for the bladder thing; hoping it won’t get too much worse after #2. I’m pretty sure we’re done with kids after #2. And one thing I learned with kid #1 is that a lot of the most drastic, unpleasant stuff that comes with having a kid is actually only temporary. I have faith that my body will recover and things will eventually get back to more or less normal. Maybe no more marathons. But some sort of exercise that is challenging and fun for me.

        In the end, I keep telling myself that my body was going to disintegrate in some way, shape, or form over the years whether or not I had kids. Gonna get wrinkly. Boobs gonna sag. Looking 26 was really fun, but it wasn’t going to last. And having kids was worth it to me. And I’m thankful that my healthy body was able to do that.

        Also, one thing my friend said once has always stayed with me: “I wish I were as thin as I was the first time I looked in the mirror and thought I looked fat.” Yep, yep, yep. And I will always wish I were as young as I looked the first time I looked in the mirror and thought I looked old.

        • Danielle

          Diane von Furstenburg has a great quote about trying to love every picture you take of yourself now, because you will think you look great in 10 years (or something to that affect).

        • Mary Jo TC

          Great point, it’s not so much pregnancy as aging that has a bigger impact on your looks, and it’s not like anyone can avoid that (except I guess by dying).
          I will say that baby #2 was easier for me because I’d already been through it once and my recovery was faster. #2 didn’t mess up my body any more than it had already been messed up. I hope it’s the same for you. And if you’re done with kids after this, you have your whole life to slowly build back that strength and stamina that you miss!

      • Chris

        So, I may be unusual in this respect, but I thought I looked pretty awesome post-partum (especially with kid 2), and here is why: as I gained the “on the high side of normal” amount of weight in my pregnancy, I also really tried to acknowledge and accept my pregnant body as how I was supposed to be at that time, even though I felt huge. And then, when I had the baby and lost like 20 pounds in a day, between the baby and placenta and fluid and all that stuff, it was easy to think back on how I’d looked three days ago, and say “damn, I look amazing!” It was about comparing my postpartum body to my pregnant body, not my pre-preg body. And then, over the next couple of weeks as my uterus shrunk and my core muscles started to retract a little bit, it was easy to see how quickly my body was rebounding back to a more normal shape, and that felt pretty darn awesome.

        I mean, I’m human: baby 2 is now 3 months old, I fit into some of my pre-preg pants but not all of them, I’m close but not at my pre-preg weight, and exercise and working out are so far down on my list that they might happen by Christmas if I’m lucky.

      • Anon Preggo

        I am just a few weeks pregnant (yay!!!) and am pretty tired and hungry a lot (except when I’m nauseous… fun!), and eating what my body craves. Not all of it is healthy. And I’m also not exercising much bc I’m so darn tired!

        All of which is to say… I may gain a good amount of weight during this pregnancy (if it does, which I truly hope for, come to full term). In fact my mom gained over 50 lbs with both me and my sister. So, could very well happen to me too!

        Usually I try to make healthy choices about eating and exercise — and being completely honest here, a large part of that is because I WANT to be thin — but it doesn’t seem viable right now. I’m just trying to take care of myself in the most basic ways possible.

        So… maybe I’ll get kinda fat. That will suck. But then I’ll have a gorgeous baby!?!

    • Gina

      I had an eating disorder throughout high school and college, and it took me a long time to get to a good space. I always dreaded getting pregnant, honestly. So I was really, pleasantly surprised by how well it went. I was able to believe myself when the number went up on the scale every doctor’s visit and I told myself “this is good, this is healthy”. Weekly yoga helped me stay connected with my body in a positive way even when it was changing a lot. I read a lot about the physiological changes caused by pregnancy to instill a healthy respect and awe for how badass my body was for growing another human. I was able to birth the way I wanted to and feel like I had control and was respected and my body was strong. And I worked hard with a lactation consultant to ultimately be successful at breastfeeding, which has instilled a whole new awe for how badass my body is for keeping another human alive.

      I definitely have moments where I’m like “oh wow, I do not look the same”. But mostly I have told myself I don’t care and I’m proud of my body and the things it does and I want to instill that pride and positivity in my daughter so much that I’ve started to believe myself. Kind of a fake it ’til you make it thing. All in all, pregnancy has been a really good experience for my self-image, so I just wanted to share that perspective.

      • Gina

        And yea, I remember the same comments from my mom about her body. And I’m determined never to pass that onto my daughter.

        • LittleOwl

          I just read about the actress Kate Winslet, and how she makes an effort to consistently say positive comments about her own body within earshot of her daughter. I thought that was amazing! Even though it may not come naturally to us, we can try and make it second nature for our daughters.

          Congratulations on your inspiring journey to motherhood!

          • idkmybffjill

            I have to hope that half the battle is just being aware of it! I know my mom would probably be horrified to know just how much of what she has said about her own body and my body lead to my ED. We may have to cross that bridge once I have kids/she’s watching them without me.

          • Gina

            What an awesome way to be conscious of little listening ears! And thank you for your kind wishes.

  • NolaJael

    Great post. So so true. I’m the short-haired, makeup-less raging feminist in my social circles and even I spent way more hours than I’d like to admit worrying about body image and pictures of our wedding. I did a lot of self-talk trying to prep myself (“your people love you as you are” and “you don’t worry about being conventionally ‘pretty’ any other day, so don’t put those expectations on yourself, be you”). Our wedding was two weeks ago and because our photographer was a family friend he showed us the photos *the day of our wedding.* My husband and I both went to bed upset about how we looked (yay for body image expectations affecting dudes too?). But now, about a week later, I love them. Curating was essential to finding the ones I love (because I look good) and the ones my husband loves (because I’m happy). Put them side-by-side and the whole is lovely.

    • idkmybffjill

      I felt this way about our engagement pictures! We last minute picked out outfits that… aren’t outfits we normally wear, and we ended up looking just not like us and also not as attractive as we wanted to. Luckily we had done the first 30 minutes in our favorite outfits in our house with the dog. I basically just deleted all but one of the fancy outfits pictured and now our at home comfortable ones are some of my most treasured!

  • Arie

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am also stuck in this feedback loop of feeling negatively about my body, and then beating myself up for even thinking about it. I thought I fixed this! But if I’ve learned one thing in the past year, it’s that the wedding is going to bring up just about *every* issue I thought I had under control, and make me deal with it again. I’m trying to think of it as some kind of constructive hazing that is somehow better preparing me for marriage. I love my dress, and I love my people. But when I no longer have this event where I have to fit into the dress and be stared at by all my people, I am going to be so relieved.

    • idkmybffjill

      “I’m trying to think of it as some kind of constructive hazing that is somehow better preparing me for marriage.”

      I think this is brilliant and has applied in so many ways to wedding planning for me. Dealing with unexpected family stress, fights we’d never had before, etc etc. I’m all for the idea that a marriage ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT need a wedding, but planning one sure has helped us put all our business under the microscope!

      • Arie

        FOR REAL. For better or worse! In sickness and health! I wasn’t wild about the idea of having a wedding, so for me these are tangible things that I can point to as being useful. Look how much we were forced to learn in a year – how can that not help us? But also: I am so, so ready to nap for an entire month when this wedding is done.

        • idkmybffjill

          Haha I know!! I want to cut my hair (and that’s another thing I said I wouldn’t let my wedding dictate, turns out I want that updo though!), and I want to not have to talk about my wedding to coworkers all the time (they mean very well, and it’s just the easiest small talk device, and honestly most of my wedding planning has been breezy), but I’m just so ready to step out of performing the Bride role.

          • Elizabeth

            Haha, meanwhile my hair’s been various lengths, including super long, and I think I might do the ‘shave half’ hairstyle because I really don’t want to have to deal with an updo.

          • idkmybffjill

            Get it girl! Do you. When I got engaged I really wanted to wear it down or half down, with medium length hair (a lob). Then I was a bridesmaid in a friends wedding and wore my hair down and mid-dancing was like CAN I GET A RUBBER BAND. So updo it is for me! :)

          • Elizabeth

            I’m trying to get up the courage! I’ve cut my hair before (gone from butt-length to close-cropped in one move) but this does feel like a Bigger Deal because of the Wedding. I hate that, and at the same time it seems like half the people in my life who would usually encourage me are like ‘…are you sure you want to do that before the wedding’ and it’s not like I want a haircut I dislike to show up in 8 million pictures.

          • idkmybffjill

            One of my dear friends cut her hair from chin length to a pixie and died it PURPLE the day before her wedding, and she looked AMAZING. Seriously so so amazing. And walking down the aisle was the first time alot of us had seen it so it was this extra GASP moment that was so great.

            I WOULD say if there’s any way to… fake it? I would try that. Maybe braiding half back so you can see how it all looks? But in general, I doubt you will regret doing something you really wanted to do!

          • Elizabeth

            Thanks for this. I’ve loved this hairstyle for probably five years and I couldn’t do it then because it wouldn’t have been good for my work environment. That’s no longer an issue. I think I’ll honestly regret it more if I don’t do it than if I do, so maybe after engagement photos (which are scheduled for this weekend so I’m not making major hair decisions right before them) I’ll do it. I’m way more sure I’ll like how this looks than I was sure of the pixie, and that turned out great.

          • idkmybffjill

            I’m of the opinion that if you can pull off a pixie there’s nothing you can’t do.

          • Ashlah

            Been there! I wanted a pixie cut, but I was afraid to try something so drastically new for the wedding, so I grew it long. Chopped it off the next day, and to this day wish I’d had a pixie cut for the wedding. Oh well!

    • Sarah

      “But if I’ve learned one thing in the past year, it’s that the wedding is going to bring up just about *every* issue I thought I had under control, and make me deal with it again.”

      WHY DID NOBODY TELL ME ABOUT THIS?! For real, my engagement and first 5-6 months of my marriage were absolutely miserable. ‘Honeymoon phase’ my ass.

  • JC

    Thanks so much for this. I have so many feelings on the topic, and I’m not even getting married yet. Lately, I’ve been doing a really good job of judging my health on two factors completely unrelated to weight: how my stomach is feeling and how often I go to the gym. I have horrible digestion, so if my stomach aches are minimal, I’m doing great, and I also have arthritis, and working out is key to keeping those joints healthy for the long haul. When both of these factors are present, I know I’m taking care of *my* body and its needs.

    But…the weight thing is always there, in the back of my mind or the front of a billboard or a phone call with my mom about how she noticed a friend has gained a lot of weight. It’s both a private number on the bathroom scale and a public persona to be commented on an scrutinized. Like you, I’m trying to find the tools to move past it, “Eventually. Slowly.”

    • idkmybffjill

      Solidarity and good vibes to you!

      • JC

        Thanks!

  • Ashlah

    Can I get some suggestions for how to be supportive of someone who is in a bad place with their body image, while also setting firm boundaries about what kind of language I’m okay with listening to? I’m very fortunate that I’ve been pretty content with my body for the past few years (I was actually at my heaviest at our wedding, but I felt good). My mom, on the other hand, seems to have gotten more and more upset with her body, to the point where negative body talk is expected every time I’m with her. It’s just constant, and because I’ve recently become more active and lost weight, and she regularly compliments my body, it just makes me feel…almost guilty? Like my weight loss has triggered her feeling bad about herself? It feels like there’s no appropriate way for me to respond to her.

    I know the effect negative self-talk and a focus on/moralizing of body size has on my own self-esteem, and it’s important to me that it’s not a part of my life. It stresses me out when she says about a fellow runner in a race, “She needs to work on her inner thighs” or when she says, “Of course you can wear just a sports bra” or talks about her “fat clothes.” But I know that I can’t just tell her to just stop feeling insecure. I’ve been there. I know body issues are hard and deep and complex. How do I support her without becoming her sounding board for all the mean things she says about herself? I don’t want her to take, “I can’t be a part of negative body talk” to mean, “You can’t talk to me about your insecurities.” I’ve told her about my experience, and I suggest she be kinder to herself, but I worry it’s just condescending coming from me.

    • Amy March

      “Mom, talking about my body is really stressing me out. Can we change the subject?”

      I appreciate that you want to be supportive, but it’s totally fine to just say this isn’t a subject that you’re interested in discussing. Just because she needs support doesn’t mean you need to be the one to provide it.

      And for comments like “she needs to work on her inner things” you can always tackle that as a rudeness problem. It’s not necessarily “gosh mom I hear you are insecure about your body” it can also be “wow mom that’s mean and rude stop it” depending on the circumstances.

      • idkmybffjill

        Great suggestion. Sometimes moms just need to be told like everyone else!

      • Ashlah

        Thank you. I know you’re right. It’s easier said than done, but I know it’s probably better for both of us in the long run if I’m less delicate about it. She’s an incredibly blunt person, so she’d probably actually appreciate it, despite my concerns about hurting her feelings.

        • Amy March

          If it helps, and as one who doesn’t know your mom, maybe try approaching it from a place of she is my mom, she loves me, she would never want to be repeatedly hurting my feelings, and she really would appreciate knowing she is, so that she can stop. Assuming, of course, that you think she isn’t trying to be hurtful, which is a whole other bag of worms.

          • Ashlah

            Nope, I don’t think she is, thankfully! I think it really is coming from a place of insecurity, and she probably doesn’t realize how much it gets to me, especially because it’s such a normalized topic in our society. I have to remind myself that despite being my mom, she can’t read my mind.

      • Alexandra

        I have literally said that exact sentence to my own mom, who body shames every woman she sees. “Hey mom, that’s mean. Let’s change the subject.”

    • idkmybffjill

      Ugh yes, my mom and I have a very similar relationship. We also really look alot like each other so sometimes I have this feeling that she almost sees me as an extension of herself, and so feels comfortable talking about my body too.

      This isn’t the best tip – but I just change the subject. Or I bring up other tangential things. “I hate the way this dress looks on me, ” –>, “That’s an amazing color, let’s find you something you feel more comfortable in.”, “No it’s because I’m fat” –> “Let’s give another cut a shot, clothes are weird.”

    • Eve

      Your mom probably feels like she knew how to care for her body, and is now at an age where her body doesn’t react to diet and exercise like it used to. Maybe she is realizing she can’t wear certain things she used to wear. She’s may feel at a loss as to how to deal with this new situation and is expressing her frustration.

      • Ashlah

        That absolutely is a big part of it. No question.

        • Eve

          And the worst part is that she knows it’s a permanent change, unlike a younger person. Think about it; she’s never been her age before! What can prepare a person for it?

    • AP

      I go through this with my mom. After my divorce a few years ago, I moved in with my parents for a while to get myself back together. Part of getting myself back together was going to the gym every day, mostly to help with my anxiety. But I had also put on weight during the shitty end part of my marriage, and as I got more active and started sleeping again and eating better, I slowly started to return to my normal weight. And hot damn, was my mom a jerk about it. She absolutely made me feel guilty for the time I spent at the gym (less than an hour a day) and made comments about how she could lose weight too if she had as much free time as I did (did I mention I got divorced and laid off within a 6 month time span?) The negative talk/moralizing about her body and other women’s bodies was a problem too. In my situation, I had to learn to tune it out because I lived with her and didn’t want to escalate conflict. After I moved out it got easier to deal with, and now I do the Captain Awkward ‘broken record’ response and change the subject any time she mentions bodies, weight, exercise, diets. “Mmm hmm, so what’s new with work/friends/church?”

      • Ashlah

        Oh, that sounds hard, dealing with that while living with her, and going through everything else! Ouch. I’m glad you found an okay way to cope at the time.

    • Jess

      I posted below about practicing being bored. This is when I used it most, because the dynamic between your mother and your body is very familiar.

      I didn’t have the energy to police my thinking and someone else’s comments. I found that most of the time, people are just putting these negative things out there. They weren’t looking to me to validate their opinions or contradict how they feel, they were just making conversation.

      Any attempt at soothing them or trying to make them feel better went unacknowledged and they would just forge on with their ruminating.

      So, I just started being bored with the subject. Talking about it made me feel insecure and defensive and guilty all at once, but pretending to be very bored with the whole conversation and hurrying it along helped.

      The less engaged I was with conversing the less the topic came up and the shorter it lasted. This meant I gave no “But you look great though” platitudes, no “It really hurts to see you hurting” heart-to-hearts. I would just shrug and say, “I’m sure she’s going to run a great race” (or other non-body focused statement about the other person) or “Wear whatever makes you most comfortable” in the same tone of voice I would use to with a co-worker trying to pick a flavor of coffee in the morning.

      I’m supporting her by reducing the amount of negative self-talk she puts out into the world, and protecting myself by removing my emotions from the conversation.

      • AP

        This is a great way of explaining it. It’s not uncaring to disengage to protect your own emotional health, it’s actually a lot more loving and supportive than enabling or contributing to the negativity.

        • Jess

          Exactly! The key for me was realizing that I didn’t have to be an echo chamber or a force to be rallied against – because positive alternate statements seemed to be an invitation to prove me wrong with more negativity.

      • Ashlah

        I really appreciate this comment, it’s very insightful. You’re right that anything I say in response leads to continuing the discussion that I just want to end. There’s no perfect combination of words that will make her immediately stop and love her body?! :)

        • Jess

          If only! ;)

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      I’ll be watching the replies to this. I inherited a weird body-discussion ish from my mom as well. She’s always criticized herself in front of me, she yoyo diets. I always had a sense growing up that my belly and thighs were too big, but never knew where it came from. At some point when I was older she told me that I was a pudgy baby and kid (I was) and that she was afraid I’d never grow out of it. At some point she must have said something about my weight around me, and I absorbed that understanding of myself, even though I was too young to remember to words. It took me until college to realize — lightbulb! — that I was allowed to actually like my body. This concept had never actually occurred to me, because I’d never seen someone do it.So I made friends with myself, and for a while I was really in shape, but of course the voice of self doubt never goes away entirely. I could have written the article above. I’m not in shape anymore. Often when I see my mom she’ll compliment me and tell me I look great, and sometimes that includes commenting that I look like I’ve lost weight, when in reality I either haven’t, or have actually gone up a bit. And I know she means it as a genuine compliment, but coming from her, because of all the crap I know she carries around, and because of all the crap I carry/carried around as a result of her crap, it makes me want to scream a little. A few times I’ve tried to come up with a way to say something like, “Hey, I need for weight to not be a thing you and I talk about, positive or negative,” but it never seems like the right time to say it, either because it would be in anger or out of nowhere, and I don’t think I could explain why without hurting her.

      • idkmybffjill

        “Hey, I need for weight to not be a thing you and I talk about, positive or negative,” but it never seems like the right time to say it, either because it would be in anger or out of nowhere, and I don’t think I could explain why without hurting her.”

        Totally feel you. I hate knowing that when my mom visits, I instinctually feel more excited to see her if I’m thinner. It’s real tough.

      • Ashlah

        Yes, almost harder than telling her not to be negative about her body is asking her to stop complimenting the size of my body. Because she means well, but my mind just goes to, “But I won’t look like this forever, then what?” I’ve actually had to talk to my husband too about being careful with the ways he compliments changes to my body. It’s tricky.

        • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

          Yeah, she always told me, “Oh but you have a flat stomach, I never had that.” Which I did! Did. Past tense. Last time she said something about it, I was able to casually say, “I actually don’t anymore, and haven’t for a while,” and then push the conversation along without dwelling on that point. But I still kind of resent that she ever said that to me, let alone repeatedly over the years, because then it felt like a good thing that I had and then lost.

        • raccooncity

          I feel like I might have shared this story before, but my mom has some pretty typical (especially from her time) body issues, and has eyeballed all of her daughters’ bodies for those same issues. I’m very thin and she occasionally worries about me being too thin, but mostly just laments that she was never that way, even at her thinnest. (Meanwhile i’m over here flipping out at people’s comments about “real” women having curves, but that’s for another day….)

          Anyway, cut to one day when we decide to all try on her wedding dress for fun. I couldn’t get it zipped up. Which was partially because she’s a little shorter than me, but it wasn’t even close. It was a pretty emotional moment for her because she had this weird time capsule of proof of how hard she is on herself.

      • mssolo

        “Hey, I need for weight to not be a thing you and I talk about, positive or negative,”

        Could you raise it in terms of an external factor to both of you have triggered this? An event at work, or a friend’s situation, or a friend has said it to you, and it’s had a positive impact on your relationship with them so you want to spread the love, or even just that you’re bored of it. Setting up as a ‘right now’ thing might help start breaking the habit, and if she slips back into it you can refer back to how good things were when you weren’t talking about weight.

        A conversation I had with my mum a few years ago went along the lines of “You know, I think we can find more interesting things to talk about than what foods you aren’t eating. How’s house buying going?” It worked for the length of that particular diet, though it did return when she started a new one prior to my sister’s wedding; often they go on the same diets so it’s a bonding experience for them.

  • Anon for this today

    Weddings bring out SO MUCH messed up gendered sh*it about our bodies. It’s insane. My bridesmaid’s mom told her she “has” to lose 15 pounds for my wedding in January. I spluttered and told my friend to do whatever the hell makes her feel comfortable and good and she was gorgeous no matter what and I’m still angry about it.

    Argh.

    • idkmybffjill

      Good lord, moms and weddings.

  • JenC

    As a plus sized woman the feelings that I wasn’t good enough to get married, that I was too big to get married were really intense during our engagement. I tried, I really tried to just be cool with it. To tell myself that my partner loved me the way I was. He loved me when I was thinner and he loved me throughout weight gain. I tried to tell myself I was good enough. Sometimes it worked but some nights I ended up crying that I wasn’t good enough and why did he love me. If you throw in the mix my inability to comfortably wear Spanx (and my confusion about how to pee in them) I had the mentality that I didn’t need Spanx, I was comfortable in my own skin. But then came the pre-wedding meltdown of ‘what plus size bride doesn’t wear Spanx!?!?’

    One thing that actually helped me feel better about myself during this process was the dress buying process. It’s the moment I dreaded the most. I was certain I would not find anything because women like me weren’t meant to look beautiful. I specifically looked for shops with a wide range of plus size dresses but walking into the shop where I bought my dress from was really intimidating. The display dresses were the tiniest possible dresses ever and the women working there were beautifully tall and thin. I felt like a fish out of water. The women just genuinely wanted me to feel beautiful, they didn’t sway me or push me towards a specific style but listened to what I wanted. And I found a dress that I felt beautiful in (most of the time – see various meltdowns above). For me it was the ultimate contradiction of the wedding industry, there’s a dress to suit my body, that made me feel beautiful, a dress that exists solely in the wedding world but it’s the same world where I am told I shouldn’t be getting married because I’m fat and I’ll never be beautiful because I’m fat.

    • idkmybffjill

      “If you throw in the mix my inability to comfortably wear Spanx”

      Can we talk about how spanks just straight up don’t work for some body types? I have a very small waist and if I was going to wear spanks, it would be for my thighs, but they always create bulge! Never spanks.

      • Eenie

        I’m of the opinion that I only ever wear Spanx so I don’t have panty lines. They make these super thin ones that are actually comfortable!

        • idkmybffjill

          Even those somehow squeeze my thighs out of the bottom! My body just isn’t right for them. I LIVE for those underwear from Target, Gilligan O’Malley? Or something? That is hella smooth and leaves no lines. Obsessed with them.

      • Jess

        Spanks (and those cute little boyshort underwear that is super comfy for the first five minutes until I actually move) roll up my thighs until I have bundles of underwear below my butt and the leg opening is cutting nice dents into my thighs.

        I have decided that even though women everywhere decry them, my body was made for thongs.

        • idkmybffjill

          YES. This. This forever.

      • JenC

        They’ve never worked for me. There’s too much material in some areas and then too little in other areas! I’m just an odd shape and anytime I’ve worn them I’ve ended up int bathroom for about 20 minutes trying to work out where the material goes.

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        The best I can tell, the best you can accomplish is to move the bulge/squish line from one part of your body to another. It never actually goes away.

        • idkmybffjill

          Lol – yep. And from noting my friends results, this is functional if say, there’s some extra squish in the love handle region that then gets sort of, smoothed into the hip zone… But my hips and waist are small, my squish is in my thighs – so I just let them be. OR wear control top panty hose cause then there’s no where for the squish to escape to!

          • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

            The last time I wore Spanx, I pushed the squish rolls down to my knee joints and up to where my bra band squeezes me in anyway. Bu I absolutely believe that for some bodies, there will just be no good place to put it.

          • idkmybffjill

            The mental image of all of us manipulating spanx makes me LOL. I always try that knee joint business and it always makes me feel less attractive than just having my (not terribly slender) thighs out in their glory. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

          • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

            Ahhh, but this was a long skirt, so nobody could see my knees, not even me! Bwahahahaha. (Stupid Spanx. ¯_(ツ)_/¯)

  • Vanessa

    Steps 1-9 “just hold your legs up in the air”

  • Jessica

    During pre-marital counselling, the (female) pastor we were seeing had us take a little stress test. It asked “how anxious are you about…” and had options for money, family, weight, looks, relationships, etc. I put down that I was worried about almost everything. My now-husband was worried about very little. It was a little weird to know that I was the one carrying all of that.

    When we got to the line about weight, she looked me in the eye and said “most women worry about this, very few men do. You are beautiful.”

    • idkmybffjill

      “most women worry about this, very few men do. You are beautiful.” Literally just got teary about this. Amazing.

      • raccooncity

        SAME.

  • Lindsey

    I had panic attacks and anxiety galore before my wedding due to my weight. I gained 70 lbs due to undiagnosed PCOS and couldn’t shake it off in time, so I was going to be a fat bride.
    And I was a fat bride, and my nightmares of having very unflattering photos being posted on FB for the world to see came true.
    That was three days ago and I survived. Screw the “sweating for the wedding” nonsense.

    • JC

      Congratulations!! You deserve some relaxation. Bubble bath?

    • Rebekah

      Congratulations on your marriage!

  • JLily

    I lost weight for my wedding, even though I didn’t “need” to. I judged myself for being a bad feminist, I felt judged by other people (“I’ve noticed you’ve been eating less” or “you are looking very thin”). But also, it doesn’t matter what you do! The judgments, the comments, they come from all directions and you cannot win. It’s stupid. Why does anyone else care, and why do they think its ok to say whatever?

    I don’t know if we will ever (as a society) move past body issues. That is such a tall order, especially when it comes to weddings, for the bride, the MOB, bridesmaids–my groom, my DAD! Everyone was concerned with looking “their best”. I think the only thing to do is to keep any judgement to yourself, literally just turn-on-your-heels-ignore any rudeness, and a let out reassuring “you do you” when needed (works on yourself and others, I think)!

    • idkmybffjill

      Amen! I wrote extensvely about it below, but I had to lose weight for my wedding in order to wear my dress after some unexpected weight gain. It’s worth noting that my dress was a size four, and I gained to about a size 6 (so, privilege – I see you)….. so many coworkers and casual friends commented on my new healthy meal regimen with, “You know you don’t need to lose any weight!”. I just wanted to be like, “ACTUALLY I DO BECAUSE DO YOU WANT TO BUY ME A NEW DRESS?”

      Mind ya business.

    • Leah

      This was one of the reasons I didn’t get professional photography for our wedding, and made sure people knew about it beforehand. I’d gained weight that made me anxious, and I’d heard a little bit of fretting from others about “looking their best” and so I told them (and myself) that photos weren’t going to be important, that I was much more interested in having people feel Comfortable and Happy and Present. Nothing can slay all of the body-shaming, but at least most folks seemed pretty comfortable and happy.

  • Kate

    Also – if you are engaged and are trying to lose weight – it seems like everyone assumes it’s for the wedding. Which just reinforces the idea that you need to be losing weight for the wedding. E.g. Questions from co-workers about how many more pounds I want to lose by my wedding? And I’m like, well, I have a fitness goal for 6 months from now, it’s not in terms of pounds and it’ll still be almost 6 months before my wedding.

    My wedding is still almost a year away and I’ve already been engaged for about 9 months. There’s so much else in my life for this year and a half or so. Is it so hard to believe that I have goals/concerns about my looks/health/weight that are not about my wedding??!!!

  • the cupboard under the stairs

    As someone who planned a wedding while working on a college campus full of 100-pound 18-year-olds, I can SO relate to this. Even as I lost weight–unintentionally, thanks to a newfound love of cycling–I obsessed endlessly over the shape of my arms, the circumference of my hips and the belly fat I couldn’t burn off and how all that would look in pictures. All I got for my obsession was a too-loose bodice on the day of my wedding.

  • Unhip in Brooklyn

    I actually do feel like I have One Amazing Trick This Feminist Used To Finally Move Past Her Body Image Issues. And that’s endurance sports!

    I had the typical levels of body insecurity as a teen/young woman. I felt chubby and unattractive, no matter what my weight actually was (or how unrelated I found attractiveness and weight to be when it came to other women). As I got into endurance sports, my focus shifted. I felt confident in my body not for what it looked like, but for what it was doing. Of course, the nice side effect is that you develop more muscle and often do look better. But even when my weight didn’t budge, I was proud of my rockin’ bod that could easily churn out a 2000m swim or a 16-mile run.

    Most people don’t find the idea of running for 2-3 hours straight “fun and exciting.” I don’t think it’s a solution for everyone. And it isn’t a “trick” in that it does take sustained work and effort. But it really flipped my body image and self-confidence. Maybe a perspective shift from “I’m exercising to lose weight” to “I’m exercising to be a strong and badass woman” can help.

    • Jess

      This is, in fact, my weird trick too.

      It isn’t foolproof, but I definitely feel much more comfortable with my body when I’m using it regularly.

    • Kara E

      And then when you can’t do them anymore? I do agree with this perspective, but due to injury/pregnancy/illnesss/injury, I haven’t been able to do this in about 4 years. And I used exercise as a crutch to avoid dealing with my underlying issues with food and body image. Yes, I’m strong (I can wear my 3 year old on a hike – provided I don’t need to keep up with my hubby on a hill!), but I can’t do a lot faster than a walk. And Im still 50 lbs overweight.

      • Unhip in Brooklyn

        That’s a good question, and I think it’s something that varies from person to person. Some people may modify, some people may drop endurance sports entirely. Some people might be able to adapt easily, and some people might really struggle. Honestly, with something in the realm of injury, pregnancy, and illness, I find online communities and other people who have walked that road much more valuable than advice from doctors. Don’t get me wrong, you need a medical professional. But as someone with a 24/7 chronic illness and injury this year, I’ve had much more luck (an sanity) hearing from other people rather than docs. So if you’re feeling stuck, maybe some online searching would help?

        You’re a beast for being able to wrangle and carry a toddler while hiking. I salute you!

  • Julia Schnell

    Does anyone have any advice for dealing with anxiety/performance anxiety during the wedding ceremony? The possibility of having to do things like have a first kiss or first dance literally keeps me up at night months in advance.

    • Amy March

      Therapy? Anxiety about something that is keeping you up at night months in advance is probably something a professional can help with. And on the other side, you don’t have to do things like a first dance if you don’t want to!

  • bean213

    “Once again, I become a dog chasing its tail. I can’t let go of this notion that I am not thin enough, even if the idea sprung out of a comment someone else made—a comment that had nothing to do with me. I have an ugly habit of benchmarking myself against others when my only benchmark should be myself, my health, and my happiness.”

    This is it. A dog chasing its tail. Thank you so much for putting this feeling into words.

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