"If only you lived in the 1950s, your body type would be perfect."
I think she meant it as a compliment. I remember the look on that woman's face when she realized what she had said, and the shock that went through my body when I finally understood what she had implied-- that my body type was unacceptable now.
I was eleven years old. Fifteen years later I still remember-- the words, the shock, the humiliation.
I had thick thighs and a curvy waist that had been passed down to me from my mother (and my mother's mother and my mother's mother's mother.) A girl on my school bus once pointed out that, from the side, my silhouette looks like a crescent moon, sharp and harsh and stony. My hair was curly and had a mind of its own.
My breasts have always been large and round, and while you'd think this were a blessing, you'd be surprised to learn that quite the opposite is true when you're in high school and a boy asks you to hide his cigarettes in your bra during an unannounced classroom search.
So I hid. I called it "modesty" but it was really just embarrassment. I was embarrassed that God would create such an ugly vessel and force me to wear it. I was angry that He didn't place me smack dab in the middle of the 1950s where I (apparently) belonged. I was angry that I was here and it was now and I felt the need to constantly justify my hips, my hair, my thighs.
I've been hesitant to write a post on body image, because self-love is not something I've mastered. I still trash-talk myself in the mirror occasionally when I'm disappointed in what I see. I also was nervous that any post on self-love would end up sounding more like an excuse for my weight or my emotional eating, and that's not what I want either.
I once read in an issue of O Magazine that "real transformation can't come when you hate who you are now." That's what I'm working on these days.