Feb 032014

… in which I discuss my own body image issues in some detail.

Last week I listed to a podcast on weight and body image. Hearing women describe their parents’ criticism of their bodies in childhood was shocking. That is not my story.  Nevertheless, I asked myself, “do I remember any comments critical of my body from vulnerable times?” One instance came to mind: in early elementary, a gymnastics teacher pointed out my saddlebags and told my mom they were a hindrance to my ability to perform the moves.  I could have used a few more years before I had to notice them.

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Fast forward to today. Most of my wardrobe mistakes stem from trying to wish away my thighs. When I weigh 145, I look normal and my clothes fit fine; at 135, I start getting ambitious about being able to wear other silhouettes. The wrong silhouettes.

The solution is to stick to my natural silhouette. And my next action, after realizing this, was to biff the magic underwear. Any garment which needs them should be replaced with one that doesn’t.

  3 Responses to “Biffing the Magic Underwear”

  1. This is my philosophy exactly! Now. I got my negative messages not from a person but from reading fashion magazines, even ones directed toward teenagers. I was less than a hundred pounds and always trying to diet and doing exercises. I was under 5 feet then and so I wasn’t noticeably thin but I can see, looking back, that the controlling behavior was next door to anorexia. And my thighs were still meaty and muscular. So at a size 3 junior petite I wore one of those long leg rubberized girdles every day to school. And I wasn’t the only one.

    Several eye-opening things happened. Our honors English class was bussed to the jr college in order to hear Ray Bradbury talk. He made some aside about not wanting to be in bed with a fashion model and being poked with those elbows. He wanted someone cushiony. There was plenty of censorship on tv in those days and I had never heard anyone talk like this. The college “men” roared with agreeing laughter and I suddenly felt had and betrayed by all that fashion advice that told me that I needed to wear a girdle to be ladylike. And insinuated that I had to be thin to be attractive.

    A number of years later, when I was going braless, I was chatting with someone whose family owned a multi-national lingerie company. I was teasing him about how the braless movement hurt his business and he laughed and said it didn’t hurt at all since they had convinced women they needed panty girdles and those were more profitable. Again, I realized how I’d been had and how manufacturers and magazines worked together for the bottom line and in particular by trying to change our bottom lines. Again, I was really mad at having been taken for such a sucker and having been such a sucker.

    The third thing. They say that it is revealing to make a list of your characteristics: I’m a good cook, I’m clumsy, I can’t dance, I’m really smart… And then to try to associate each belief about yourself with a person in authority who told it to you – just like your teacher! And you can see where it came from and being more experienced in life can learn to drop that in favor of something that seems truer of you.

    So I had a boyfriend as a teenager who once commented on how sexy my muscular thighs were. All I had ever thought about my thighs were that they were a liability and suddenly saw that someone could appreciate what I had learned to hate. Watershed moment for me and ever after that I was happy with my thighs. And then, by extension, if my unfashionable thighs could be exciting then there wasn’t any reason to fret about any other aspect of appearance.
    There’s a lid for every pot. 😀 It’s like the Triumph of Original Style where at first it’s startling to see recommendations for hiding a tummy *or* emphasizing it.

  2. It is only slightly sad that it has taken me so long to get here. And, who knows? I may still find myself waffling on it. 🙂

  3. […] I was growing up, I read alot of fashion magazines. (See Vildy’s comments on previous post for a great illustration of that influence.) But media delivery has undergone radical change in the intervening years. What would you say is […]

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