The Confessions Of An Attention Whore: On Body Image and Self Worth
You have one body… All your life!
You have one body… All your Life!
I cannot say this enough!!
You have one body…Just one. Your entire life!
You are the one you are stuck with, your entire life!!
For the longest time, that felt like jail.
I mean, being stuck with myself felt more like a condemnation than it did a privilege. Sometimes… more times in the recent past.. it still feels that way.
Loving the skin that I am in and loving the body that I have has been a struggle. Especially after high school. It is a struggle I have had for a decade… literally.
My lack of satisfaction stems from quite a number of independent yet correlated events.
I have yoyo-d with diets and procedures. From some treatment that had accupuncture and a very strict diet on the menu to Swimming daily at Kasarani. I have literally done every treatment that was non-invasive. God bless my mother’s wallet, the sacrifices she put in, the tears she has dried the effort, the support.
I have had a problem with my body image for a long while. It comes in as a love-hate relationship with my body. It was so deep that at some point I hated mirrors and pictures. And this was such a pain that I learnt how to do my make up without a mirror. My body image and self worth have been defined by my appearance. It is only now that I am ready to admit that that is a pretty tall order.
The physical struggle is something else. I have felt terrible about my body and my back rolls and my chubby cheeks that seem to be leaking into my neck. I have felt like my stomach is sitting on my lap when I sit so I sit only at chairs that have high tables in front of them or at the back or with a shawl or a scarf or a loose top just to cover my tummy.
This has gone as far as to influence the number of photographs available of me. There are no graduation photos. 90% of my photos are selfie-type photos taken at an angle by myself… i even shied away from a shoot with my younger sibs because I did not feel good enough.
The struggle is not just physical, it is mental, social and psychological too. All these programs and treatments work. At least on me they do. But due to various factors, like the lack of focus and determination, the abject fear of the attention that comes with a more shapely body (that has taken me around 4 years to admit)…
To add to this, there have been people who have body-shamed me. And I know, one should not let what other people say or do get to you, but can I be the first to admit that this is easier said than done?
There have been instances that have been heartbreaking for me because I have had people who I loved body shame me directly or indirectly. From people who have also had struggles with their weight comfortably telling those close to me that things that were hurtful like, “Angie is not loosing weight because she’s on contraceptives.”- the nerve- and other equally hurtful statements from strangers, some made consciously and others not consciously.
Everyone has had a struggle with themselves. What hurt especially from the people I know and cared for is that they too have, at one point, struggled with their body image especially their weight. That they failed to recognise that we are all different and that they have absolutely no idea who I am and what I may be going through. As such, they should not have been comfortable enough to tell people who care about me things that not only hurt and infuriate me, but that also in turn hurt the people who do care about me.
There are changes I have had to make in a bid to take responsibility for certain changes I want in my life and that in many ways, for instance in the paths I need to take to change my body image, I am alone. Alone but not lonely. And I am thankful to my support system for that.
The Life Lessons Series by Oprah is really helping me with this and the post above is what made me understand that taking time to myself, evaluating and understanding who I want around me is very important in me taking responsibility for myself and the person I want to be.
I have come to accept that in time, one has to let go of people that no longer root for you. This, I have come to learn includes both family and friends. And it has been tough.
I also recognise that there is more to recreating the image I have of myself than uprooting bad energy from around me, and I intend to take all other steps, but this is definitely part one. especially because I now understand that I have a part to play in the kind of people and energy I entertain. It is time to take back my power and to stop giving it to others.
I have to acknowledge that negative body image and weight are not always equal, and some people’s struggle with body image is not synonymous with their struggle with weight. This just illustrates my own struggle.