On Body Image

The Lane Bryant catalog arrived yesterday.

I pulled out the coupons and leafed through the pages, coming to a stop at the swimwear section. My first thought was, “Why would I buy a zebra-striped swimsuit? It just screams out, ‘Look at my rolls!'”

Then, of course, I felt guilty. Big women are beautiful, too, and I shouldn’t be projecting my feelings about my own body onto these plus-size models.

I realized at that point that the LB swimsuit models seemed to run the gamut of sizes. Without knowing how tall they are, they seemed to go from the low end of Lane Bryant sizes (12 or 14) to maybe a size 18 or 20 — again, depending on height. I’m relatively tall for a chick — 5’10” and a size 14/16 at 197 pounds — so I’m no judge on sizes. Some of the women didn’t look “plus-sized” at all, while others… well, I just wished I could stick a pin in them and let a little air out, and then they’d look just about right.

Which led me to realize: I don’t know which of these women I most resemble, shape-wise. Am I really that fat? I don’t know! I can’t tell. When I look at the thinner plus-size models, I think of them as “normal.” Not stupidly skinny. They have some meat on their bones, but no rolls. But I don’t think I look like them; I must be fatter than they are. Then I look at the larger models, and I hope I don’t look like them… except, well, they look good, too. Sure, they’ve got rolls, and thighs, and upper arms, but they’re pretty and confident and they fill out their clothes well. They don’t look sloppy, just big.

It wasn’t until I did my own private swimsuit photo shoot in the basement this evening that it occurred to me: plus-size models get airbrushed, too! It felt like the biggest “duh” moment ever. You can’t make me believe that none of those big and beautiful ladies has any cellulite on her thighs.

Still, though, I’m having trouble with the mixed signals I’m getting. The Health At Every Size/Fat Acceptance movement would have me be perfectly OK with being a size 14/16, as long as I’m healthy (which, as far as I know, I am) and not eating unreasonably. Weight Watchers says that my health will improve significantly if I lose just 10% of my body weight. The Wii Fit tells me I should be some skinny damn weight I haven’t seen since elementary school.

I just want to feel comfortable in my own skin. I want to stop feeling self-conscious and embarrassed around fit people. In addition to the social aspects, though, I’m curious what I’ll look like when I drop another 20 pounds (on top of the 50 I lost a few years ago).

I think I have some psychological fine-tuning to do, beyond the physical and behavioral that I already knew was ahead of me.

3 thoughts on On Body Image

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  1. amen, my sistah. amen.

    thumbs up for the swimsuit picture 😀

    it is all mental. after everything i’ve done, after all the work, i still look in the mirror everyday and think i’m a fat piece of crap.

    it’s gotta start with me. you know?

    and it’s gotta start with you.


  2. I remember Sister D used to say that she would look in the mirror every morning and tell herself she was beautiful. She also said a lot of the weight loss prosess was thinking yourself there. But then I never saw her loose weight. I still think a lot of it IS mintal, when I feel like I am looseing weight I eat less and exercise more, and so, loose more weight.

  3. Congratulations on your weight loss and bravo on photographing yourself for real life look. You look great. Often the picture we see in our reflection is slightly distorted by our own minds – great reality check, I think I will try it.

    Most plus size models are at least 5’10” tall (vary in size from a 12 to an 18) and well proportioned top and bottom. Since every woman’s body is different and every manufacturer is different it is helpful to get feedback from other customers who have a similiar shape. AlwaysForMe.com sells plus size swimwear and has several shopping avenues to help you choose the best fit for your boday. Last year they introduced customer product reviews to their site to let you read what others are saying about their products – 1,000 of woman have replied 🙂
    The site is also designed to let you shop by body type with detailed product reviews to help with fit. Plus personal shoppers are available by phone or email to help you find a swimsuit and cover up that works for you.