Trying To Love Yourself When You Hate Your Body
This post has been sitting in my drafts for a few weeks now. Previously titled, A Love Letter To My Body, this post was supposed to talk about how I've grown to love my body over the last 8 months since I wrote my "My Experience With Body Dysmorphia" post (which I recommend reading before finishing this post). I was going to tell you all about how I've started working with this amazing nutritionist and how fueling my body has made me find a love in it that I've never felt before. How all the journaling and meditation work that my nutritionist has been having me do has made me feel at peace with myself, how I've learned to forgive myself for the way I see my body. I was even going to mention the concept of Second Puberty and how knowing that my body is fully developing itself to womanhood makes me love the extra weight in my tummy. All of that sounds great right? Super self-lovey, super positive!
I could post that and not think twice about it. This post has been sitting in my drafts for two reasons. Number one: it's not real. It's not the authentic view of how I've been feeling. Posting it would be doing a real disservice to myself and the part of myself that promised to be honest with you all. The second reason why it's been sitting in my drafts is because I feel like no one wants to hear about a "skinny" girl talk about how she doesn't love her body. I feel that way when I see girls skinnier than my talk about their insecurities, the part of me that thinks it would achieve real happiness if it looked like them. Obviously though, the post came out of my drafts. This post is gonna be a little different, instead of narrating and speaking based off of what I've learned over time, I'm going to do something that makes me feel really vulnerable. I'm going to share with you all my real journal entries.
**Journal entries have been edited to only contain the material that is pertinent to this blog post**
January 15th, 2021:
I'm not going to lie, I'm feeling a bit dejected today, unimportant, & mediocre. I know this is all a "process" and things don't happen overnight but taking a bomb fire selfie & doing a TikTok that took forever to create & having it get minimal to no recognition is really hard. It definitely brings forward a lot of my old insecurities. Am I not pretty enough? Am I not sexy enough? Am I not skinny enough? I'm trying to focus on the joy that I get out of it but that's hard.
January 21st, 2021: I have had one of the best days & maybe that's just in comparison to how horrid the days before this were. The last few weeks were really really dark. I was in a depression I wasn't entirely positive I'd be able to get out of, I was even self-harming. There were a few days where I couldn't even get out of bed. But this week has been different! Each day has been better than the last & today I actually got everything done from my list. I've been working out & eating healthy! Trying to get my body back to where I was when quarantine started! I'm going to be grateful for trying!
February 4th, 2021: Hello journal! Look at me writing in you twice this week. I've been feeling pretty good so far, been trying to be productive and also be patient with myself. I realized something this week and I'm not sure how I feel about it. [Redacted] and I were talking about tattoos and they wanted to see some of mine. As I was sending some of the photos I've posted on my IG before I realized that I don't have any photos of my "Never Doubt I Love" tattoo. I spent 10 minutes trying to get a good photo of it but with each photo I found something I didn't like about my body. The fact that my boobs don't face completely forward, the fact that my stomach looks big when I lie down. I felt really sad about it, this realization that I'm hiding this beautiful piece of art I tattooed on my body because of how I feel about myself. I ended up getting a photo of it, but needed to put a black and white filter over it to try and feel better. Maybe it's time I start working out and dieting again.
February 25th, 2021: So I did something exciting today! I met with a nutritionist at Ready Fit Go and she's going to help me feel healthier. What I'm really excited about is that this is now less about my losing weight and more about me finding a way to just be healthy. To stop starving myself and just eat food again. I'm not gonna lie, I'm a little nervous about my body dysmorphia popping back up since I'll be trying to be more conscious of my food and my body but I'm hoping all the journaling that I'll be doing will help!
April 1st, 2021: Wow I just re-read my last journal entry and I think it's pretty clear that my body dysmorphia is back. I don't know what to do about it though. It's one thing to be aware of what's going on and it's another to not actually feel this way. I'm just getting so tired of fighting the voice in my head that tells me how much I suck. I went to try on wetsuits this week and I honestly felt like I was going to cry. I joke about being okay with being tiny but it's so embarrassing to have to go in and ask for a boys wetsuit because the woman sizes don't fit. Like talk about triggering my insecurities?! And the worst part is that I can't even take a compliment anymore. I went to go pick up my lunches and the lady told me how great I look and how it's obvious I've lost weight and that fucking voice in my head called her a liar, how could I look great when I'm the size of a large boy!! I really don't know what I'm going to do, how do I keep fighting this voice and actively try to make myself a healthier person.
April 6th, 2021: In a weird way doing my tattoo photo project really helped me. Sure I still stared at all the photos for a million years looking at everyone of my flaws, but it also helped me look at my body through the lens of art and find a beauty in it. I'm still really nervous to post them and I have no fucking idea how I'm going to post the Love Letter To My Body blog post, but I'm sure I'll figure that out tomorrow. I don't really know where to go from here though. Maybe the answer is actually seeing a therapist for this. I just don't want to continue through this cycle anymore and I don't know if where I'm at is actually healthy, both physically and mentally. All I know is that it's putting a real cramp on confidence and that's putting a cramp on my ability to get shit done and I'm tired of that.
April 7th, 2021 (aka today) :
I'm not going to lie, looking back and reading all my old journal entries was hard. It made me emotional to see how quickly I spiraled from wanting to just be healthy back to critiquing my body. I'd like to be able to say that seeing this has been a wake up call and that I'll be back to my positive, self love, healthy ways. But I can't say for sure that that's true. I mean I literally starved myself until 3:30 today. I also almost didn't post a photo today because of how my stomach looked in it. I can't get over all the ways that my body isn't perfect in my own eyes (because my eyes are the only ones that actually matter). So I don't have some magical way to wrap up this blog post. All I can do is give myself some actionable items. Manifest what I'd like to see happen. I would like to be able to eat healthy, while also allowing myself to indulge in the foods that I like. I would like to be able to be kinder to myself. I would like to have patience that becoming healthy is a marathon and not a race. I would like to accept my body the way it is, while also striving to become more fit. But really what it comes down to is finding a way to love my body for all it does for me, to be able to rationalize that my body isn't made to look or be a certain way, it's there to allow me to live and I'm not worth and less or any more based off the number on a scale or how much extra weight is on my stomach.
So there it is. A peek in to my head and my journal, also can we just acknowledge that journals are diaries and we just say journals to sound more mature? Below you can see the photos from my tattoo photo series, I am very proud of them. I also want to say, anyone dealing with body dysmorphia or an eating disorder, you're not alone and you can get help. For more information on eating disorders click here, and for more information on body dysmorphia click here.
My tattoos in the order that I got them:
My first tattoo - the moon. I got this one on my 18th birthday with my sister. She got a sun and I got a moon, that way we could always have each other with us. She was living in the Bay Area and I moved to Los Angeles for college, it was the furthest we'd ever been separated. I've always been regarded as the bright peppy one where she's always been more dark and gloomy. We felt the sun and moon represented us well. It's kind of perfect seeing as I live in sunny Southern California and she lives in Rainy Oregon now. This was the first of my tattoos honoring my sister.
My second tattoo - The words Vive Ut Vivas on my wrist. I knew that I wanted to get wrist tattoos since I was 16, it just took me a while to figure out exactly what I wanted. The words are encased in two straight lines, these lines covered my self harm scars. I wanted something beautiful to replace an ugly time in my life. The words Vive Ut Vivas are latin for Live So That You May Live, which is pretty much just a glorified YOLO. But to me it was the reminder that I'm alive and that there was a time that I didn't want to be, so I had to live my life to the fullest to honor the younger version of myself that was just trudging through life.
Tattoo Number 3 - Triunfadora. A mimic of my Vive Ut Vivas tattoo. My idea for having the Vive Ut Vivas tattoo to stop myself from cutting my wrist worked, except I now had a second wrist to cut. The tattoo lines again cover up my scars, but now they cover up the idea of new scars. My second tattoo represented the covering of my depression in high school. This tattoo represented the covering of the pain I went through after my rape. But it was also more than that. I knew I wanted to honor that growth and I didn't really know how. While my Mom and I didn't see eye to eye on a lot of things at that point in my life, I remember her calling me once and telling me how much she loved my fighting spirit, my inability to quit. She called me her little Triunfadora. I got this tattoo to remind me of that fighting spirit.
Tattoo Number 4 - The palm tree. This is the start of my more "fun" tattoos. I realized how fucking depressing it was having to recount all my trauma any time someone asked me about my tattoos and I wanted to showcase the part of myself that had grown and healed and had found a love within herself. This tattoo was originally supposed to be a matching tattoo with my best friend but she bitched out (just kidding, she's an actress and can't get too many tattoos) The palm tree to me represents my love for Southern California and the life and person I've built here. Fun little story: There used to be one singular palm tree near my house as a kid and every time I'd pass by it, I'd find a sense of happiness and beauty seeing it. I still feel the same way every time I see a palm tree.
Numero Cinco - My elephant. Man I love this thing. I got the last 5 tattoos in the span of 2 years and then didn't get another one again for 2 years because I just loved this one so much. I love elephants, their protective nature and the way they love so deeply call to me. (Fun fact: they're the only animals who openly mourn the dead). I had never really considered myself to be artistic and then one day at work I free hand sketched an elephant, I loved it so much I took it to my tattoo artist and told him I wanted it tattooed on me. The tattoo on my body is his artistic interpretation of my drawing. If you want to see what I actually drew click here.
Number 6 - Like I said, it took me a while to get a tattoo again after the elephant. I loved it so much that putting anything else on my body after that seemed almost sacrilegious. And then this one came along. This was actually a twofer. I got this tattoo and tattoo number 7 on the same day. At this point I've spent almost 4 years in Southern California and had found a love and peace at the beach that I had been craving. I knew no matter where life took me a part of my soul would always long for the ocean. I have no regrets, the peace that I feel being out in the water is something I haven't come even close to finding other places. Also it's a gorgeous tattoo ( & no it's not the Death Star like so many people think )
Tattoo Number 7 - This was the tattoo that started this whole project. I've always been really self conscious of my boobs. It only got worse as time went on because I couldn't look at this tattoo without seeing my stomach. But, I've always felt like it was a disservice to not show this tattoo off because it means so much to me. "Never Doubt I Love," from Shakespeare's Hamlet,
“Doubt thou the stars are fire,
Doubt that the sun doth move,
Doubt truth to be a liar,
But never doubt I love."
I asked my sister to write the words for me because my sister is the one person in my life that I've always loved and that I have felt has always loved me. I wanted to honor our bond and also remind myself that my power to love is an amazing thing.
Number 8 - This was the point in the project that I realized that I have a lot of tattoos. This one is my impulse tattoo. Every single other tattoo has a meaning behind it, I can make something up and say that these flowers represent a type of growth I see in myself but it'd be bullshit. This was a tattoo on a flash sheet for a Friday the 13th special at a shop near my house. I decided on it the night before, stood in line for 4 hours, paid $30 and got it. I have no regrets.
Tattoo Number 9 - My newest tattoo. 5 butterflies. I've always loved the symbolism behind butterflies. The idea of being these kind of ugly land locked creatures and then transforming in to this colorful and beautiful creature with wings. I got 5 to represent my Mom, my Dad, my brother-in-law Jesse, my sister Jen, and my nephew James. To remind myself that while I'm far away from them right now trying to spread my wings and transform, that they're always with me. These 5 beautiful people who help keep me grounded while supporting me as I fly. I got this in 2020 when I was feeling lost and separated from them. This way they're always with me.