What I didn’t Say

18 Aug

I think most of you know that I decided to tackle the VEDA challenge this month. It has done so much for me: pushed me out of my comfort zone, expanded my circle of friends, opened my eyes. If you don’t watch any of the other videos this month, I encourage you to watch the Day 17 Videos from all the participants.

Yesterday’s topic was Self Image/Body Image.

Have you ever tried to talk about this on camera before? Let me be one of the first to tell you that it’s not easy. (See for yourself.) After watching some of the most beautiful and inspiring videos, I realized that there was a lot that I didn’t say because I was scared to share it but that’s just plain silly. So, here it goes…

… my grandmother struggled with obesity for the last 15 years of her life. She couldn’t walk. She had four quadruple bypass surgeries. I watched my grandmother suffer and my family struggle with how to help. I know that there are genetic tendencies when it comes to obesity and heart disease; I don’t want that for myself, I don’t want my family to have to watch and go through that. Sometimes, I’m a little manic about my health, the food I put into my body, the way that I look. It all stems from fear.

… in high school I never, ever thought about what I looked like in a bathing suit, my favorite pair of jeans, in my prom dress. I didnt’t care. I rarely worked out. Then college happened and it was like a whirlwind of perceptions, suggestions, questioning my beliefs. Rather than gain the freshman 15, I lost 15. It wasn’t healthy-looking at all. Ever since then I’ve gone back and forth between a healthful lifestyle a borderline not so healthful one. Body dysmorphic disorder? Yeah, I’ve got that. (I imagine a lot of people do.)

… I mentioned in my video that after my first true love ended (we were together for two years) I had a hard time believing that I was beautiful or could be beautiful. He wasn’t the only one to tell me I was beautiful on a regular basis but then cheat on me with someone else: someone skinnier, someone (who I perceived) to be prettier. It’s happened to me a handful of other times. Every single time I questioned the truth. As a result, I stink at accepting compliments, and sometimes at finding things to enjoy and love about myself. At trusting and believing what men say to me.  Amazing how self-image and body-image can affect multiple areas of one’s life.

… I beat myself up over my weight. Often. It’s hard to remind yourself that it’s just a number.

… I know that I don’t have to be 100% healthy 100% of the time. That’s (literally thanks to the plethora of allergies that plague me) not feasible for me, but I can do my best as often as I can and I can learn to be okay with that. I can also choose to give myself a break now and then because life is supposed to be fun. It’s not supposed to be about comparing yourself to this girl or that girl, keeping up with the “Joneses,” trying to squeeze into a size 4. It’s not supposed to be about wearing clothes so that someone compliments you; you should wear them because you like them, because you want to.

… I am learning that what I think is all that matters. I’m the one that has to live with me, who has to eat, sleep and breathe with me. (Jack does to but he loves me no matter what since I’m the keeper of the dog-food.) I don’t have to wear stunning outfits everyday, do my hair in the latest fashions. No one will judge me if I have roots and gray hairs, or if they do? F*&k them. I am here to live my life for me, not for them. I can do things to make myself feel confident and that’s what I should focus on. This train of thought has allowed me to wear sweats in public on a Saturday morning without make-up. It’s allowed me to embrace my inner hippie who would gladly spend her life listening to DMB and dancing under the stars each evening. I’m sure I’ll still care sometimes what others think, about how I look, about my health and my size. I’m working on it. After all, aren’t we always a work in progress?

Any feelings/thoughts/comments you’d like to make on body & self image?

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23 Responses to “What I didn’t Say”

  1. veronica August 18, 2010 at 9:23 am #

    I’ve a few issues with weight as well. What I have learned over the years is that learning to be okay in your own skin is easier said than done. However, at the end of the day it’s you against yourself. No matter what anyone tells you if you don’t love yourself no one else will.

  2. Amber from Girl with the Red Hair August 18, 2010 at 9:24 am #

    Awww first I loved your vlog about it and second I loved this post. And those vlogs you linked to are awesome as well!

    I hate Fat days. I hate myself for having them because I should know better. But I still have them. Everyone does.

    I am so much more confident now then I ever was before, so I only hope that keeps changing as I continue to grow older and “wiser” hehe.

    You, my love, are absolutely gorgeous. Don’t think otherwise. XO

  3. Heather August 18, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    I love that you are learning to embrance your inner hippie. DMB is awesome! You are awesome. Keep up the great work. I know it’s hard, but we can all do it.

  4. Rachel August 18, 2010 at 11:00 am #

    I love this post. You ARE beautiful, but what matters is that you believe it, not anyone else :)

  5. phampants August 18, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

    I’m neither skinny nor fat, but I never been comfortable with my body until I started to run. The only part of my body that I like are my legs. (eff yeah, sexy runner’s legs)

    Since April, I dropped 15 lbs, though it’s closer to 10 now. Part of it was to be in the shape that I was when I started to run (which back then, I thought I was chubby). Though, the underlying factor was to look slim. Where I am today, I want to drop another 10 lbs.

    Part of it is because of running. Part of it is because of society’s implants. And the other part is because I don’t feel as heavy when I walk, run or do any other activity. I feel like it’s easier on my body.

    Growing up, I was never the cute guy. I was picked on a lot. I had horrendous acne. I was cheeky (I still am). I was a reject who was kept around for entertainment from bullying to homework “assistance”.

    I was never social. I don’t think I’m social to this day. One thing I have worked on is popping my bubble. People say I’m a character, I still don’t know what it means. I’m just who I am, the way I am without reason. How I interact in public is not exaggerated but in fact very real. What you see URL is what you can expect IRL (disclaimer, URL acts are more exaggerated in order to get the full effect on camera).

    But as for body image. All I have are my legs. But hell, I have fucking sexy legs. Just don’t shave them please.

  6. Becky August 18, 2010 at 12:55 pm #

    I can’t watch the video at work but I definitely will check it out! Let me just say you are GORGEOUS. Seriously. That is the first thing I thought when I saw you and your mom walking toward Mandy and me In Georgetown that day. Know it. Believe it.

  7. Habbala August 18, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    I love it. I love that we aim to be happy with ourselves… and know that our happiness cannot be dependent on others. Others can add to it (like you add so much love and happiness to my life), but the effect you have wouldn’t mean anything if I can’t first be happy within first.

  8. Lisa from Lisa's Yarns August 18, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    I need to check your vlogs – I keep forgetting to do that! Maybe tonight will be ‘watch some vlogs’ night. :)

    Ahh, body image. It’s a beast isn’t it? I struggled with it form an early age – like 3rd grade. I remember giving my pizza away at lunch because I was on a diet. Wtf.

    I think my body image is now probably the best it’s ever been. It seems like whenever I start working out consistently, my body image improves because I respect my body for what it is able to accomplish. Am I perfect? not by any means. Do I have flaws? Tons of them. But I over look them and try to focus on the things I like when I look in the mirror… It’s definitely a conscious choice but it’s better than beating myself up mentally like did in my younger years…

    Great post, lady!

  9. Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks August 18, 2010 at 3:48 pm #

    Bravo, Nora. Writing this took a lot of guts – I’m sure it wasn’t easy to admit some of these things to yourself, let alone sharing them with others through your blog. I’m very impressed.

    I think most women deal with body image issues at some point in their lives. Me? I do, but I also try to fight it. I don’t own a scale. I don’t even have a full-length mirror in my house. I don’t let numbers rule. It’s more how I feel about myself. How is my energy level? Am I consistently fitting into clothes? Am I able to achieve my fitness goals? So long as I’m happy with the answers, then I really don’t worry about a lot of the other things … and like to think I’m happier for it.

  10. Tabitha August 18, 2010 at 4:29 pm #

    Amen to all of it! The only person who should be judging you on your appearance is YOU. I totally feel you on the fear stemming from family history, and the insecurities with boys not treating you right or talking to you right. But as we all seem to be learning in these formative 20something years, beauty is not defined by what everyone else looks like or thinks you should look like. You are beautiful because you’re YOU, and the way you feel in your body should be the primary motivation for whatever decisions you make to change it.

    I love you!!

  11. Suburban Sweetheart August 18, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

    Ah, Nora, so much of this resonates with me. I, too, have hit one of those phases in my life – one I hope lasts – where I want to be healthy, want to give my body what’s right for it, want to accept myself as I am while striving to be healthier, not necessarily thinner.

  12. nicopolitan August 18, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

    I think this is where I introduce you to what my friends call “The Rockstar Principle.” It’s basically this:

    The world’s a stage, and if you’re going to perform, you need to be a rockstar. It’s easy to be a rockstar because all you need to do is convince people that you are a rockstar. However, the first person you have to convince is yourself. That’s the hard part.

    You can be a rockstar, Nora. Just let me know if you need a backup band. :)

  13. Margarita August 18, 2010 at 7:29 pm #

    Awesome. That was beautiful to read. So self-empowering to have a greater sense of self.

    We all go through things. I’m glad you’re so honest that you can write about them!

  14. Akirah August 18, 2010 at 8:08 pm #

    I can relate to a lot of this post. Especially your feelings of not feeling beautiful after your breakup with your first true love.

    Sometimes I wonder if anyone will ever find me beautiful again.

  15. mandy August 18, 2010 at 8:59 pm #

    You are beyond beautiful. I struggle with my weight. I have for my teenage and adult life. I’m working on losing weight but its a slow process. I dont let anyone get me down about my weight though because I do think I’m beautiful. Being beautiful is more about how you feel about yourself, how you treat other people, and the sort of character you have.

    I’ve been terrible about watching vlogs but I plan on doing that in the next day or two. And major props for you for sharing this with the rest of us.

  16. Kyla Roma August 18, 2010 at 9:46 pm #

    You are so gorgeous- self image is such a hard one, but if I know anything from knowing you, reading your blog & being your IRL/Internet BFF (even a mopey, unavailable one at times) it’s that you have an amazing, gorgeous, incredible heart and soul.

    Plus you’re totally hot! ;)

    As I’ve grown up a little, it seems to me like feeling happy in your body and in yourself is so much more complicated than a number on a scale, or a way of eating, or even the stories we tell ourselves about how we look plays into our worth. It’s a tough one, but I’m glad you’re working through it too. And I love that you said what you didn’t say.

  17. Liz August 18, 2010 at 10:35 pm #

    You what’s funny? So many girls probably look at you and think “she’s so pretty; she’s so skinny; she looks so cute in that top/dress/pants/etc.” and then beat themselves up for having their own body issues.

    I should know. I’m one of ’em. :)

  18. Lauren from Texas August 19, 2010 at 5:54 pm #

    Isn’t it CRAZY that someone as pretty as you can have body/image issues? I have them too. I get panicky when I go out without makeup or in a swimsuit. I constantly think people are judging my looks. It’s nuts what the media has done to us, what we do to ourselves, what we do to each other. Thanks for talking about this. I don’t know what the long-term solution is, but I think you’re on your way. Much love dearest <3

  19. Jessica August 19, 2010 at 9:30 pm #

    This is so brave of you to put it all out there because I know that’s not easy and an easy subject to talk about. I have to say, you really hit the nail on the head for me in your first point. I really am in the same situation and I react the same way and am just as manic about my health and weight and why I’m so sensitive to that issue. Big hug to you!

  20. Richard August 20, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    Belllissima, you are so Italian. Not all frogs are princes. Your king is just around the corner, I betcha!

  21. Peter DeWolf August 20, 2010 at 2:34 pm #

    Well done.

    And I so hear ya on the allergies.

  22. Mel August 22, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

    Awww Nora! Awesome post and completely amazingly honest. I think it’s so hard to figure this stuff out and deal with it. And then when we get to our twenties, it’s like we’re supposed to be all self-confident and only talk about body issues we had in the past (you know, when we were young and stupid… a million years ago, of course!) and we’re supposed to be so much more confident and sure of ourselves now that we’re adults. Especially if we’re educated… or getting that way. Somehow I think the expectation that you must be above it or just not care if you are in grad school. But the truth is that it’s still hard and you have to struggle with it and the best you can do is try to be happy with yourself and know what you want for yourself – how YOU want to feel and what healthy is for YOU. (Reminds me of SATC when Carrie writes about how the most important relationship is the one with yourself and if someone loves the you that you love, well, that’s just a bonus!)

  23. nova August 22, 2010 at 7:59 pm #

    Body perceptions change from culture to culture. Here in the US, I am considered average, but in the Philippines, I was told that I needed to lose weight, and in Europe, they told me that I am too thin. Different societies/cultures have different ideas on what the ideal weight should be, and so for me, the ideal weight is one that you feel comfortable being.

    You seem to now have a healthy idea of self-image, and that is that you should only care how YOU feel.

    You are beautiful no matter what.

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