Body Aware or Just Plain Vain?

Marks on abdomen for cosmetic surgery

I have a moral dilemma. Help me out, would ya? First, some background.

Last year seemed to be the year of fine tuning my mind, this year it seems like the focus is, among other things, on fine tuning my body. Inside and out. While I have things that I’m self-conscious about I’ve never been particularly dissatisfied with my body. I’m at a healthy weight. I’m physically fit. No scary health concerns to speak of. My only complaints are the ones I’ve made a thousand times about loose skin and cellulite left after losing a bunch of weight in college. Things that just won’t go away with regular diet and exercise.

For a few different reasons, though, I’ve started to become more and more aware about how those little dissatisfaction take a toll on my life.

 

For example, I’ve worn a bathing suit maybe once in the last two years. I don’t wear shorts without leggings underneath. I perpetually stand with my hips tilted to one side because it makes them look smaller, and I cross my arms to hide my midsection when I’m standing in a group of people.

A friend said to me recently in regards to my strange self-conscious idiosyncrasies, something like “You know I just wish you could feel as beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside.” And, I’ve also gotten “I’m attracted to you, but I’m really not attracted to your confidence.” Harsh truths. It never occurred to me how much my little dissatisfactions were taking a major toll on how I lived my life. Then, as soon as I became aware of it I noticed how much other people are too. People ask why I always have my arms crossed (they think I’m angry! How sad!) or they jokingly imitate my dramatic hip tilt when they see me doing it across a room.

Well enough’s enough. Time to start loving myself and my body.

But here’s where the moral dilemma comes in. My all-natural, spiritual, love-everyone-with-no-exceptions sort of self says that this is mental. Everyone has imperfections, but it’s about how you look at them that dictates whether they are a problem or not. Some women LOVE their stretch marks. They are a mark of some special triumph in their life. The birth of a child, losing weight, whatever it may be. Some women embrace a curvy figure and prefer it tenfold over a stick-thin model body. And, well, I can’t think of anyone that’s been particularly thrilled about cellulite, but…who knows?

At the same time, there are a hundred and one options that I can pursue that will remove the issues that bother me.  Suck out the cellulite, tighten the skin, lift the boobs, maybe even make them larger.

So, which is it?  Where is it that I’ve crossed the line from making an effort to be comfortable in my own skin, into plain ‘ol, surgically fueled vanity?

I KNOW that there are people out there that love and will love me for exactly how I am and how I look. I know because I make a point to surround myself with them. In general, no bit of cellulite or loose tummy skin deterred my last boyfriend from loving or being attracted to me, and I don’t have any friends who avoid my company because I have a little arm jiggle. Why should I hold myself to any lesser standard? But, this doesn’t keep me from being bashful about it. I can’t say it ever entirely leaves my mind that I didn’t have the body that a 20-something is ‘supposed to’ have.

Is this a good point to go start talking to doctors and surgeons about fixing things, or do I just need to try harder to get the f*ck over myself and embrace it all?

What are your thoughts?  Anyone out there gone either route?  Let me hear ya!

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2 thoughts on “Body Aware or Just Plain Vain?

  1. Ami, I love your posts! You speak to the human being in all of us!

    Curious…. when you were heavier did you wear bathing suits more often and wear shorts without leggings? Being a few decades older, I’ve experienced (and still have the voice in my head) feeling I’m not *fill in the blank* enough, no matter the reality. For me, whether I’m heavier, thinner, with child, post child, I tend to find something wrong that keeps me separate. Since we humans want to look good, we generously support the lifestyle of plastic surgeons!

    Thanking the voice in my head for his opinion, then telling him to go away, has been a huge liberator for me… it doesn’t change a thing about how I look, but it changes how I show up in my life.

    Thank you for the beautiful contribution you are in my life.

  2. I used to have similar problems. I think it is a really long process to get over it. However I remember two specific benchmarks for myself related to this. Freshman year of college some girls saw the stretch marks I have around my hips. I was absolutely mortified. A few years later a couple of friends saw them and said “did you get mauled by a tiger” for some reason it didn’t bother me the second time. It might be one of those wounds that time heals.

    but I know what you mean. Wanting to look better can get you really caught up in yourself. I’d say just try to control yourself. Don’t stare in the mirror as much, don’t look at the parts that bother you. Don’t get negative with yourself in your head. It’ll even out and be better more over time.

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