Body image and the way we see ourselves is like the unspoken thing that we don’t stop speaking about. Half of the discussion about the way we look, or the way we think we look, goes on in Instagram photos of our 5-star meals, tweets about being hungry, and asking our friends if they think we look fat in a dress we definitely look fat in. The other half goes on inside of our heads–what we think about ourselves, what we think about other people, and how we feel (which is, of course, usually pretty shitty).
Over the past 5 years, I have weighed everything from 95 pounds to 142 pounds. Today, I’m somewhere in the middle, and I’m happy about that. But body image is and always will be a shadow that is sewn to the soles of our feet–a shadow that is sometimes short, wide, and unflattering enough to send us into cardiac arrest, and a shadow sometimes so tall and thin we literally convince ourselves that hmm, moving to a nudist colony wouldn’t be so bad at the moment. On a recent trip to Florida, I realized that I had not purchased a new bathing suit since the literal seventh grade. My bikinis were all distorted and stretched, too small in some places and too big in others. After one too many nip slips, my mother decided it was OK to invest in a new bathing suit.
I found a bikini that had tea pots on it so, needless to say, it had to be mine. I have no waist but a lot of ass, so generally I would be a small in a top and a medium in a bottom. But this bikini only really fit me correctly in a large. I was a little comatose at first about being a large on top and on bottom, but once I tried on the suit and realized how nicely it fit, I didn’t really mind at all. We have always been taught that labeling is wrong, because you cannot declare anyone fits into any specific category, as we all simply are who we are. So, I ripped the labels out of my absolutely awesome teal tea pot bikini. Size didn’t matter. I’m not a “large”–in fact, I’m not anything. I just felt damn good in that bikini (especially after my 2-week break up diet).
Although I wish I were, I am not nearly this happy about the way I look so often. Whenever I get into that deep, dark place where I can’t afford a trendy liquid cleanse, I can’t put aside enough time to finish Bethenny Frankel’s book Naturally Thin (which eternally sits on my bedside table), and I can’t drink enough green tea in a day to make me look like a Victoria’s secret model or a pale, thin Olsen twin (I’d take either), I crash and burn. When I get to that place, I am so down that I cry as hard as I did when my little brother was born and I realized that the world would not revolve around me as much as it once did. I’ve never watched the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. But I will watch an episode of Girls where Hannah walks around in public sans-pants.
Once, I was speaking to a friend who was on a serious prom diet. I told her that she looked good, and she responded to my compliment by saying, verbatim, “Thanks! I can totally give you some diet tips if you want!” I was not looking for diet tips. Months later, I had managed to lose almost 20 pounds. I was at a Bat Mitzvah, wearing a tight black dress I hadn’t had the courage to wear in a long time, chatting with another girlfriend. I hadn’t seen her since I had lost the weight, and in a discussion about body image, I casually told her that I had dropped the 20. Her response? “Really? I didn’t even notice! I never would have guessed!”
I have spent my whole life comparing myself to other people. Then, I got my shit together. It’s only important to compare me to myself. Because, at the end of the day, bitches will be bitches. Let’s all be Victoria’s Secret models. We’re all chic and beautiful. I promise.