I’ve been pregnant twice and have a fantastic “5 and 3/4 year old” daughter. I’m 38, 5’2″, and 140 pounds, which puts me right at the beginning of the overweight BMI category [per World Health Organization]. With my ribcage measuring at 30″ and bust at 39″, my bra size is a preposterous 30-I, or 32-H, or 34-G. How much do breasts weigh anyway?
Alongside many survivors of child sexual abuse and neglect I have struggled with disordered eating, body dysmorphia, toxic self-criticism and suicide attempts. I recently realized that perhaps one of the reasons I feel so shocked and dismayed when I catch an unexpected glance of myself in the mirror is that I am looking out with the eyes of a child and looking back as a media-hazed critic aware of the most minute of flaws.
After a flux throughout early adulthood stabilizing my health and weight I arrived pre-pregnancy at 115 pounds quite consciously, still aware of the imperfections of pendulous breasts and compulsively squeezing into jeans that were a size too small, even though I was smaller than most Americans. I breastfed for 2.5 years and happily, sanely, got down to 125 pounds at 3 years postpartum. Then I started taking a beta-blocker medication to reduce PTSD symptoms and my weight went straight up to 140+. I’ve tried for a year balancing calories in and out after quitting the meds to get the weight to drop, but it really isn’t going anywhere despite my ongoing concerted effort! My best hope is to keep it from going up since I’m teetering on the edge of overweight and my mother is obese with diabetes.
I have searched the web for photographs of actual women my age and size in their “natural” state to help me get a grip on body image anxieties, but I’m sure to no surprise, found very VERY few, even though my body type seems to be pretty common. I did find a lot of porn, some celebrations of anorexia, airbrushed and photo-shopped celebrities, and this website. I also found an energetic youTube video from a 18 years younger woman who is my size and happy as a clam, since she just lost 30 pounds to get there.
For my photograph, I choose to use a pose and location that signified feeling good in my body, which I think should be a true and heavily weighted measure of health. I also wanted to include as many of my body parts as possible, to wander away from the fragmented dissociation that is typical with body dysmorphia and celebrate all of the parts that make me. I also wanted to include my face/head, especially after viewing many youTube documentations of weightloss that cut the subject off at the neck. Ironically, as I watched those headless weigh-ins and self-assessments, my appreciation for each woman was unbounded. If I could feel limitless love for the body of a headless stranger, no matter her size, couldn’t I feel it for myself?
Pregnancy changes: My feet increased by 1/2 a size. My hips spread out and added several inches in that area. My breast cup has increased several sizes. If I gain weight now, it is likely to go into my lovely mummy tummy.
I am very happy to participate in this website and hope that many more women do, so that finding reflective non-sexualized images is not a struggle for others. My husband wants to know, is there a “Shape of a Father” website?