Freak You In Your Snooter, Body Image.

{I’m trying to clean up the sailor-mouth, okay?}

{Play the song.  It’s good for a laugh, and if you were a teenager in the 90s you might remember it.}

I just stretched my arms as far as I could above my head and let out a loud sigh. No, more like an AHHHHHHHHHH. Because exasperated is the word to describe how I’m feeling as I sit down to write this post.

For years, and years and years and years, I had no weight problem. I just didn’t know it.

In my mind, I was always kind of fat. It wasn’t until after college when my thyroid hit the skids that my body started to catch up with it. And even then, not really…if I’m being rational and honest.

Still, if there was a crash diet, I’d probably tried it.  If there was a NON crash diet, I’d probably tried it.  I don’t even want to admit to some of the things I’ve done to get my waistline where I wanted it. 

And then I got pregnant. And I gained 80 lbs. And at over 200 lbs, more than sixty lbs heavier then I’d ever been before Dee was born, I finally realized how fucked up my body image had been.

It didn’t matter if I was 120lbs or 220lbs. What I saw in the mirror was essentially the same. Sure, my body felt different (worse) at 220lbs, but my mind still just looked in the mirror and saw “FAT”. 

ONE HUNDRED POUNDS and it was like my psyche literally couldn’t tell the difference.  (I’m not a professional psychiatrist, but I think that’s what they call Body Dysmorphia.)

And then it all came off.  All hundred pounds. And it was like the goggles had been removed and OH MY GOD, 120lbs LOOKS LIKE DEATH ON YOU, ME.

Suddenly I could see the difference. And it wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t sexy. It was horrible. Embarrassing even.

I was told to gain weight, and eventually I did.  And then…like I’m so used to doing…I gained a little more. “No big deal.  Still not fat”  I told myself.  And I was right.  I had this.

And then I went to NY, and it was hot, and humid, and I started to retain water.  “No big deal.  Still not fat.”  I told myself.  And I was right.  I’ve got this.

So I did a cleanse. Because that’s a good thing to do when you’re retaining water and feeling bloat-y.  I want to be clear: I believe in metabolic cleansing.  Cleanses aren’t really a means of weight-loss.  At least not weight-loss that’s going to stick.  This isn’t even the first time I’ve done a cleanse since I had Dee.  But she’s getting bigger every day.  It’s not uncommon for her to  pick up stuff we talk about and integrate it into the little stories she weaves with her imagination.  So I don’t know why I was so surprised when she announced: “Tomorrow I’m going to go on a cleanse.”

It’s worth mentioning that I’m pretty sure she thinks “on a cleanse” is a place you go rather than a way of eating (or…not eating) but that didn’t stop the words from penetrating through my chest like a knife to the heart.

It wasn’t until my guts turned solid that I realized I’d been considering crash dieting again.  It wasn’t until I heard my not-quite-three-year-old talk about dieting (I know I just said cleansing isn’t dieting, but you know what I mean) that I realized how dangerously close I was to buying those HCG drops and whittling my way back down to a size four.

It also wasn’t until she uttered those words that I realized that I can never, ever tackle a get-thin-quick scheme ever again.  I can’t have my baby girl growing up in the sea of no-carb, low-sodium, diet-pill-popping mania I spent my pre-baby years wading through.

I’ve gained weight and I’m scared.  I want to stick to my fighting weight and not fluctuate.  I want to clean up the way I live so my baby girl doesn’t see this model of insecurity.  I’m not at all sure I know how.  But I’m gonna try.

24 Responses to Freak You In Your Snooter, Body Image.

  1. I love this. Because I AM this, sometimes. Like, yeah I just feel like I look fat whether or not that’s the case and most of the time, it isn’t. I don’t want to care what I weigh anymore or what size I am. I want to care about how healthy I am and how I’m teaching my daughter to be healthy. How do I do that? When I figure it out I’ll call you I guess…

  2. Great post–I love your writing! It doesn’t matter what size we are or how much we weigh, I think we all have distorted views of our body image. I wish you well in your healthy lifestyle endeavors!

  3. Stacey Ball says:

    All my life I was a “bigger girl.” The thing is though…I wasn’t big…I was tall. To me though bigger meant that I must be bigger all around. I struggled with the fact that in high school all my friends were buying size 4 or 6 (or smaller) and I was buying size 10-12. Might I also point out that I am 5’10″.

    When I was around 22, and roughly 180 pounds I decided I was way too fat. I started swimming like a mad woman and doing weight watchers. I started dropping 3-5 pounds a week (not eating enough and working out like an olympian.) I got down to 130. Might I also point out that I was still 5’10″. I still thought I was fat and was so happy that I was losing all this weight.

    Then my shoulder went out and now, three surgeries (shoulder, knee and c section) and over 10 years later I am 230 pounds. I’m not happy at this weight but it was my ridiculous unacceptance of my weight when I was younger that put me here. I do want to get healthy. I want my son to be proud of me, not embarrassed by his fat mom. I also know that I’m not going to do anything ridiculous to get there. So, if that means staying this size then that’s where I am and I’ll learn to accept it.

    It’s sad what we do to ourselves isn’t it?

  4. the grumbles says:

    Yes. Totally understand this. By all accounts I am an “average” size person but in my head I am an awful blorpus whale who constantly needs to go on a diet. It’s… depressing to think about. But hopefully the whole point of parenting is to try not to pass this shit on?

  5. Linz says:

    Body dysmorphia is a big (little?) old jerk. BUT if you ever want to go to LA fitness or take the munchkin + pups and tackle Fryman with me, you know how to reach me. I’ve been getting my fitness on and it feels good, and it helps SO much more than any of the crazy point counting/calorie counting/no carb/paleo/weirdo dieting – even on the mental side of things. Plus, it teaches Dee that activity and getting outside is good for ya <3 Hang in there lady!

  6. Well for what it’s worth I thought you looked bangarang in New York. I know that’s not the reason for this post or even what you want hear but regardless there it is. Body image is a dick. I’m not sure if you ever saw this post by BHJ pertaining body issues and self worth and all that jazz but it was a great read. and a great companion piece to this honest and stark post. http://thebhj.com/journal/2012/3/7/the-inevitable-ugliness-of-women.html Word.
    -Jon

    • Agree on all counts Jon. And kudos Morgan for being cognizant of your kiddo listening. I know too many friends whose mother’s obsessed about their weight/body image and passed that (and a piercing sense of judgement) onto their daughters. Lame sauce. You’re beautiful inside and out – your daughter will follow suit.

    • Morgan says:

      You’re just calling me bangarang because Hook is awesome.

  7. mjillkrause says:

    Oh, so many hugs to you, Morgan. I feel you on a lot of levels here. I lost SO much weight last year as a result of my anxiety, and once I started to kick the anxiety in the ass, I started gaining the weight back. And that was FINE! I don’t need to be as thin as I was last October, but it was so hard for me to see that scale inch back up and know that I was going to have to really work to keep it at my ideal weight. And I have never been more aware of what I do to my body and how I project my image into the world as I have since having a daughter. By the way, you look amazing. And I love you.

  8. Miranda says:

    So much of this is in my head all the time. Every time I say I’m fat, I wonder if my kids are hearing me. And yet I still say it. And why do I say it? Should I lose weight? probably, yes. There are a few pounds to be shed. But why is it so hard for me to just reframe my words to “I need to be healthier”? They deserve better than a Mama who is always upset with how her clothes fit.

    Sorry I just psychoanalyzed myself in your comments. :/

  9. shannoncolleary says:

    Oh my darling I get it. I never leave links to my own site in comments, but I have to this time because this spring I went through my own come-to-Jesus moment with my BDD. It’s still a work in progress, but my eating has calmed down and I’m hopeful…. http://thewomanformerlyknownasbeautiful.com/2012/01/am-i-really-fat-my-nude-shots.html

  10. robing34 says:

    Negative body image is a bitch and the last thing we want to pass on to our daughters. I grew up with a mother constantly on a diet. I’ve never dieted, but constantly complain about how fat I am. I think the best thing to do is concentrate on eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise.

  11. thepapermama says:

    Oh goodness. I have been struggling with my new “mom” body since I had R. It’s crazy to go from never worrying, to a body that is totally different after giving birth. <3

  12. Suzanne says:

    Ugh, this is so hard. Why isn’t there some sort of switch we can flip to make sure our kids don’t inherit our self-esteem problems? I’ve recently started trying something new, something that involves actually taking care of myself instead of fighting with my body constantly. I just know I can’t keep frowning into the mirror when I have two kids watching every single thing that I do.

  13. Tonia says:

    I have been overweight forever. Since I was 14 or so. I watch my words very carefully, and I have been very careful with my words now that I have children. Last week my 5 year old daughter said “I eat good foods because I don’t want to get too many pounds”. Dang it….

  14. My kid talks about being fat all the time, and it completely freaks me out because it’s not something we speak about here, even though my weight fluctuates a lot. (She is frighteningly thin, genetically. Body dysmorphia is a real thing and there’s just no telling where or how it starts.)

    I lost a bunch of weight and went down to about 100 pounds. I’m back up to 108 now and rising, and I have to say: the face I have at 102 pounds looks weathered and tired. The face I have at 110-115 pounds looks happier, healthier, smoother. I’ll take the round face without the hollows and just buy some new pants at goodwill.

    I’m glad you’re addressing this while your daughter is young. You’re absolutely right: cleansing is good and healthy and smart, and framed correctly, it’s a great practice to teach kids (to do when they are much older). In our house we talk about refined sugars and grains, sodas and moderation. We talk about heart and lung health, strength and endurance and how food corresponds to the workings of our bodies.

    We try to treat the natural, seasonal fluctuations of weight and sizes as nonevents.

  15. ritaarens says:

    I’m glad you’re talking about it, Morgan. Obviously, you’re not fat. Not that you don’t really know that, logically. That is of course not the issue! I’ve found that fat is not actually a feeling. Anxiety, yes. Sadness, yes. Anger, yes. Isolation, yes. Fat, no. It’s just what we go to when we’re having those feelings.

    When you feel fat, try to isolate what you’re REALLY feeling and focus on that feeling. Go ahead and roll around in that feeling for about fifteen minutes. Wallow. Then try to figure out what you really WANT. What would make you feel better. Is there a realistic way to get what you want? Are you tired? Do you need a nap? A hot bath? A fifteen-minute break? A babysitter? A good book? Try to figure out some little totally-not-food related thing you could give yourself in that moment of strife to make yourself feel better.

    Managing my anxiety so it doesn’t turn into ED again is something I devote a lot of energy to, and I will always have to. It’s okay. You can do it.

  16. KeAnne says:

    Oh Morgan. I think body dysmorphia is our inheritance unfortunately. I’m 5’10 and was super skinny most of my life. Relatives w/ weight problems remarked on how they hoped I would have issues eventually. They got their wish. I’m 20-30 pounds heavier than in high school & I look in the mirror and hate it. I call myself unattractive because of it. I need,want to lose it but healthily. I applaud you for realizing your daughter is watching and vowing to do things differently. Here to help and support you any way I can.

  17. I gained a truckload of weight with my back injury. Okay, so it’s only about 35 pounds, but it was no fun. It’s not really coming off, even though I’m doing some smart, healthy things now that I can freaking move. I’m trying to be okay with that, to be okay with movement over weight/size (though, I’ll be honest, I don’t know my actual weight other than what it was when I went in for my post-procedure checkup because I don’t step on the scale)… but it’s hard. My boys are happy I can run and play now, which I couldn’t do at my heaviest/most-back-pain-y, so I am trying to be happy with that too.

  18. ellie says:

    I’m 18 and just found this post through an RT on twitter. I want you to know how important it is that you’re recognizing this, because I grew up hearing my mom talking about losing weight all the time. And it affected me more than she’ll ever know. Now I struggle with it daily. And most of that I can definitely point back to my mom and how she just didn’t realize how much of it I absorbed.

    So, point being… I don’t mean to scare you, but just start stopping now. :)

    • Morgan says:

      Thanks Ellie — I hope you can realize that you are perfect as you are, and that my daughter will grow up knowing that too! So glad you came by. xoxo

  19. Lady Estrogen says:

    It both sad and comforting to know that we are never alone in these battles we have with our bodies and our minds. Sigh.
    I will be starting the journey to lose 120lbs… for the second and hopefully last time.

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