Poor Body Image…Unlearning the Messages

Learning the Message

For as long as I can remember, I have been embarrassed by my body. This disconcerted feeling started a long time ago. There were many messages when I was growing up of just how we “should” look. How many of you remember your Mother being on numerous diets, trying the latest gadgets to lose weight? We have all received these messages, we couldn’t hide from them. It was obvious being overweight was something that needed to be dealt with in the confines of the home. 

When I was in high school, I was constantly reminded of how I looked. I was chunky, if you will, not fat, just chunky.I have the pictures to prove it. Shopping in the plus size department didn’t really cater to a high school girl, they were relegated to women, older women. Young girls weren’t supposed to be shopping in plus sizes. Young girls weren’t supposed to be plus anything. So began the roller coaster of dieting, weight loss, weight gain, and of course, poor self image. Enter the college years, I went on to gain my share of the freshman fifteen, in fact, I likely gained a few freshman fifteens. It wasn’t until I came home from college that I realized how big I really was.

Bring on the Poor Body Image Issues 

I had not finished school when I decided to live at home and go to school locally. The body image messages became more frequent. It was living at home that I learned about deprivation as a tool to lose weight. That, in turn, became a tool to advance the poor body image issues. The problem with deprivation is it becomes an invitation to create new bad behaviors. When we are deprived for whatever reason, our minds become more focused on how we will get the very thing we are being deprived of. Deprivation is a bad behavior that leads to more bad behavior.


The complication with this behavior comes in when we are left to our own devices. I went on a food frenzy when I moved out. Fast food, processed food and anything else I had been previously denied; that was how I subsisted. It was as if I was being let out of a prison and was going to indulge in all that had been forbidden.There was no warden to tell me I couldn’t have something, or that I didn’t need it. What I didn’t realize was the damage I was doing to myself. The weight was piling on, as was the poor body image.

Unlearning the Message

The messages continued. I have always found it interesting when people feel automatic license to tell you how big you are. I have always said that shaming the overweight is the last acceptable prejudice. How many times have we seen it on TV or in the movies, someone making fun of the “fat chick”. As many of you readers know, I don’t use the “f” word lightly, as I find it to be an ugly, derogatory word. Again, it’s all about the messages.

When I think about my life today and where I have been, family and friends both weighing in, pun intended, on my body. I have lived a long time with these messages. They don’t go away overnight. I am grateful to the new generation of women; women with curves, voluptuous, round, beautiful bodies. They put it out there. They are dating and marrying, something I was taught long ago, was only an option for the thin girls. They guide me today. They lend acceptance to women of the previous generation, the generation that said, “thin is in”. They don’t know this mantra. They live by a new philosophy, one they wrote themselves, to suit themselves. Weight is not an issue for them, they live their lives on their terms. Today, I too, live on my own terms. But there are days, old habits die hard…..


What about you? Are you holding on to old ideas about weight and body image? Do you remember the messages of the past or do you write your own missive, one that says you can be who you are, any size and love yourself?



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