Sorry, but I’m not built like a 12-year-old boy

When did the switch flip?

I know that I usually talk about mostly random fluff on this blog (though in a very enjoyable manner I must say) but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about body image. It’s been at the forefront of my mind for a myriad of reasons, and it’s finally gotten to the point where I feel the need to put my more serious thoughts out onto the interwebs.

First of all, let me put all my cards out on the table: I have never been fat. Nor have I ever been skinny. I have really muscular legs, a big booty and a little flab around my tummy. But I’m built in very nice proportion and have a visible waist, so you wouldn’t know to look at me that I wear a size 8-10 most of the time (nor are those shameful numbers to have stitched into your jeans). As a result, I live in this in-between range that sometimes makes me feel like I won the genetic lottery, and other times makes me feel like no one should ever find me attractive.

In a way, I think all women go back and forth between those emotions, no matter what their body type is.  If they’re thin, they have times where they wish they had bigger boobs or a rounder butt. If they’re curvy they wish they could wear a v-neck without showing 6 inches of cleavage or could walk in a skirt without their thighs rubbing together. The grass is always greener, right?

But instead of embracing ourselves for the numerous positive attributes of our bodies, we continually focus on that one negative.

The Hubbster will occasionally get really frustrated with me, because he’ll catch me looking in the mirror and frowning. Or pinching that little roll of fat on my stomach while I’m sitting on the couch and sighing like I weigh 400 pounds. I know I’m not fat. Logically, I know this. But when I look in the mirror or see that roll of fat, I get this feeling of self-loathing that makes me feel 13 years old.

When I was in the 7th grade, I had a crush on this guy, and there started to be rumors that he was going to ask me out. Then there were rumors that I weighed 130 pounds, and he wasn’t going to ask me out anymore. For the record, I weighed 115 pounds at the time, which for a 13-year-old girl isn’t necessarily average. But I had been a figure skater and dancer since I was 7. Couple that with my naturally athletic build, and I even though I looked about the same as all of the other girls, I weighed about 15 pounds more.

I know that it was a long time ago, but let me tell you: a girl never forgets a feeling like that. The realization that date-ability (and because I was 13, my self-worth) was not only linked to how I looked and what clothes I wore, but how much I weighed. Or even how much people thought I weighed.

When I started being more comfortable in my own skin (i.e. when I was in college), I stopped weighing myself. Seriously. I can’t tell you the last time I was on a scale that wasn’t in a doctor’s office, and when I go to the doctor’s I close my eyes and tell them not to say the number out loud. I still have a very muscular body, and knowing my weight doesn’t help my psyche. Now that I really think about it, my aversion to weighing myself might have a lot to do with that day.

I still have moments where I sigh at my reflection, but I’ve learned to focus on my positive attributes, and on being healthy. I’m conscious about what I eat–I try to eat more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods (eating at home a lot helps), but I don’t count calories or diet. If I want a brownie, I’m going to eat an effing brownie, I’m just not going to eat an entire pan. I try to be active and go to the gym regularly, but I don’t go crazy and let working out take over my life. I feel healthy, and you know what? My curves are gorgeous and I have hot dancer legs. It doesn’t hurt that the Hubbster tells me that every day. I really love him for that.

Popular culture is starting to help, too. I love seeing un-airbrushed photos of celebrities with cellulite and wrinkles and big thighs, and that inevitable roll of skin from bending any part of your upper body. I love seeing article after article about how we need to come together as women to put an end to body-shaming, and accept that we are all built differently and we are all beautiful. But I also see articles about how “pro-ana” and “thinspiration” websites are thriving, and how they are encouraging women (and girls) to be unhealthy in the pursuit of looking like a 12-year-old boy.

So to those people scorning any girl who is shaped like a woman, I would like to say this: I’m not built like a 12-year-old boy, nor do I want to be. I have boobs and a butt and a few extra pounds, but guess what? So did Marilyn Monroe. Try arguing her attractiveness. I dare you.

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12 thoughts on “Sorry, but I’m not built like a 12-year-old boy

  1. Great post! Body image has been on my mind a lot these days… It is heartening to see that some sections of popular media are embracing the “get healthy” trend but at the same time, there are I-don’t-know-how-many repins of “Skinny is the new sexy” on Pinterest! I guess, at the end of the day, it is all about finding out what makes you happy. The world and its definitions be damned! But even I know, it is not always easy to get around to being really comfortable with who and what you are. I know I have a lot of work to do with regards to that!

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  2. absolutely perfect post. I have a similar body to you. I was quite slim compared to a lot of friends (not difficult when there diet composed of mcdonalds and mine of, ooh, hey fruit and veg) but i wasnt skinny. despite that i still weighed more because i did a lot of sport. in fact since i was fourteen i weighed more than my mum and i got grief for that. but still great post- totally the image we should be giving kids. 🙂

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  3. Great Post. I have always struggled with my body and how I perceive myself. I’ve always been curvier than the other girls in my class. I was the first in my class in grade school to really have boobs and I was always bustier and ‘hippier’ than my fellow classmates. It’s been a struggle from grade school to now as a college senior. I had lost weight when I decided I didn’t like my weight and I got down to a size 12. Unfortunately, I became ill and the medication I was on made me put on weight like crazy so now I’m a size 20. It doesn’t seem to matter to my long time boyfriend, but it’s so hard to really hear and believe what he says. I believe that HE finds me attractive, but I look in the mirror and I just don’t see it. It took a long time to really appreciate my body for what it is. Yeah I want to lose weight to be at a smaller size,but also for health reasons. I got over the want to be ‘stick thin’ and learned to love my curves. Especially since all my thin friends always tell me they wish they had hips and big boobs. I used to never even think about them in that light. It’s a long road but it gets better once we stop comparing ourselves to other people. Just gotta learn to love ourselves and what we’re working with. 🙂

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  4. a hundred times, yes! I’m a curvy girl too (although somehow I don’t have much of a rump…) and I look DANG good in certain form-fitting dresses. if only the ideals and images of the 40s and 50s were still true today and I think a lot more girls would look at themselves positively!

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  5. great post! 🙂 I feel related to it! I’ve got a well-proportionated curvy body that it took me a lot of time to accept, but now that I finally do, I love it (90% of the time, though).

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  6. The dominant culture of America seems to be obsessed with women who are built like 12 year old boys and I honestly don’t get it. What man wants a woman that’s built like a little boy unless he’s some kind of freaky pedophile? I was raised with the exact opposite attitude as you. I was told that no man would want me unless I had some “meat on my bones.” I used to try and eat extra slices of bread to get bigger, to no avail. Having a curvaceous body is the natural order of things for 99.9% of women. Being a healthy hourglass with ample T&A has always signaled health, vitality and fertility. You’re in good company not only with Marilyn, but with Rachel Welch, Sophia Loren and Sophia Vegara. Any woman who would trash talk the figures of these women is simply put, a hater.

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