Monday, April 27, 2009


Body image is a touchy subject with women, me included. There is so much psychology mixed with physiology combined with sociology... it's enough to make a woman want to go live on an island by herself. I don't love my body but I also don't really hate it either. I know I have good features (my legs are pretty decent) and not-so-great features (I like to keep wearing maternity shirts just for the extra length. Believe me, NO ONE needs to see my muffin top.)

When I graduated high school, I knew I didn't really have the greatest body. Not repulsive, but let's just say that I ONLY wore a bikini when I was by myself, on the dock at the lake, trying to get a tan and spraying lemon juice on my hair.

My high school cheerleader's uniform was a size 12. Well, I guess I was an 11/12, since technically juniors are odd sizes. But, the 12 was always part of the equation.

Going to college, I didn't really gain the freshman 15, because I already had learned horrible eating habits at home years before. My family was all about having Cokes with dinner every night of the week and dessert was a regular affair. I never once ate non-sugared cereal before I got married. Luckily my genes and metabolism prevented me from becoming a mammoth-sized. I was just basically ignorant when it came to good nutrition: I knew the 4 basic food groups but really it had never occurred to me that Cokes might be bad for me. Or that having unsugared cereal might be a wise choice, every once in a while. I felt like a nutritional champion if I had a serving of fruits and vegetables at lunch AND dinner.

When I graduated college, I'd gained about 5 pounds, but I was still a size 12.

I met my husband when I had been out of college for 3 years. All those years being a single person, cooking for one, can be a boring job. Quite often I would just stop at Casey's general Store and get a slice of pizza for dinner or else eat a bologna sandwich at 10pm. If I ever bought grapes or a head of lettuce, it would inevitably go bad before I was able to eat it all. I just never could motivate myself to make an effort.

When I finally got married in 1998, I had gained another 5 lbs. And my wedding dress? A size 12.

Now I am the mom to 4 kids. Pregnant with #5. I can't stand to look at my stomach. I would NEVER wear a bikini now, no matter how much money you paid me. I don't hate my body, mostly because I have decided that hating my body is simply wasted energy. I have resigned myself to have the attitude of: If I want to eat the foods I like, then I have to accept the body I have. If I want to have a better body, then I have to give up foods that I love, like chocolate and braunschweiger.

After almost 11 years of marriage and birthing 4 children, I have gained an additional 5 pounds. And, I'm still a size 12.

So, here's the mystery: How in the hell am I still a size 12? I know damn good and well that my body is NOT the body that I had in high school. And, granted, back then I was probably a 10-or-12 and now I'm more like a 12-or-14, but last year I finally gave away a pair of jeans that fit me in high school and still fit me when I put them in the Goodwill pile. I had to pass them along because I just had to make more room for more up-to-date purchases. And, still I can occasionally fit into a size 10. So, what gives?

I consider myself quite blessed that my family is pretty healthy (relatively speaking) and I don't have any relatives with any type of obesity. If anything, all my female relatives end up losing weight as they get older. So, I have that to look forward to, which is nice.

But I keep wondering, will I be a 12? What if I drop 25 pounds - will I still be a 12? And, after I've gained these 15 pounds since 1990, where did I put it if I am still wearing the same size? When people see me and say, "Gosh, you really look exactly the same as you did in high school" I can say that I honestly do believe them.

But, deep down, I have always wanted to be a single-digit kind of gal. In high school, when everyone else was complaining of feeling fat in their size 6 skirts, I hated knowing that I would *always* be on the bottom of the cheerleader pyramid. I would never be the "flyer" but always the "base". I was never called "pretty" but rather, people referred to me as "athletic" or "cute". I always longed to be thought of as a delicate female, but people always thought of me as the tough girl with the sharp wit who you didn't want to mess with. I think my size-12 body kept me from believing that anyone thought I was beautiful. I still have trouble believing that. Not that size 12 is anything to be ashamed of, but of all the people I hung around with I was always the biggest. So, "size 12" represented "least desirable girl in the group". Of course, this is rooted deeply from back in high school, where looks were everything and putting someone's personality and character ahead of their looks was a theory only, one preached by our stupid parents who didn't know anything anyway.

But, for now, size 12 isn't so bad. I am hoping to hold onto my size 12 for a while. I just bought some shorts at Marshalls the other day, and they were size 12. With some extra room. I probably could have gotten the 10, but that just wouldn't have been ME.


Anna See said...

Body image is so weird. I feel pretty much the same way whether I'm 10 lbs up or 10 lbs down. I never appreciate the 10 lbs down until it's already over.

I must admit I've been a bit stressed about pool season coming up (FAST) but I'm not stressed enough try to do anything about it.

E said...

My ample backside leaves the room about a minute and a half after I do. I wear gypsy skirts and lots of scoop necked blouses to draw attention to tother things ample that are more appealing.

Enough wild sex and your husband will be certain he likes you better with a couple of extra curves here and there. And the clothes.... size 12 is a range and you are still in it mama.

Don't worry seasoned is better and so is curvey!

Cookie Crums said...

I honestly don't believe that there's a female alive that does not have a body part they hate! I have to say that's part of the reason I'm having nagging thoughts about trying for child #2. I am feeling really good about myself (aka body) and don't want to get big again. Is that bad??!! I know that probably sounds really selfish but it's taken me 1.5 yrs to get back to my pre-pregnacy shape. Oh the decisions!! :)

McVal said...

I've given you an award at my blog.

Jen said...

you know being a size 12 is not a bad thing at all. You please tell me that you don't stay a size 12 your whole pregnancy b/c then I would really have to dis like you and I don't want to loose my turdly buddie. ;)

Scary Mommy said...

Vanity sizing, my friend.

And I could have written this--- almost every single word.

Jess said...

I LOVE Casey's Pizza!!!!!
...and I've been a size 12 for a long time too!!
I just keep telling myself I don't have a single digit body!!

stephanie (bad mom) said...

I have long since stopped thinking about the number in my pants [that sounds a little weird...] and just making sure they fit right. Clothing designers are, frankly, idiotic.

It sounds like you have a healthy body image, and that is a blessing for you and your daughters.

*I have a little something at my blog for you :D*

texasholly said...

That is so weird how that happens with the size. It is like the whole women's fashion industry ebbs and flows with our bodies. It is just a number. Thankfully it isn't branded anywhere and you CAN cut out those irritating little tags.

Loved this post.

C and C Mommy said...

Honestly, I think clothes/sizes are getting bigger....I wear a smaller size than I did when I got married. Did you know that they make pants that are size 00?? Who is a "no size?" My high school students told me that one store they shop at make a size -1....what the heck is that? Are people so obsessed with numbers that they make clothes bigger and make negative sizes??

Wendy said...

It seems like it really depends on where your body sticks the extra weight vs. how clothes are made. My SIL looks 5-6 months pregnant from gaining a ton of weight, but she still wears size 8 pants. And brags about it still.

Meanwhile all my junk goes IN. MY. TRUNK. So it's really obvious when I've been noshing on the chocolate. I have many sizes of pants in my closet but wear the same size shirt always - my SIL is the opposite - most people are somewhere in between.

Here lately though I've gained ten pounds beyond ever before and those ten pounds have gone to weird places and I'm freaked out.

Bridgett said...

My prom dress was an 11/12, and when I was back down into a size 12 jeans, it did fit. I weighed more than I did in high school, but it still did fit. Weird.

My goal right now is a 12. I think I'm a 16 (but granted, I just had a baby...). I've been lucky, though. I never really had any body image problems. I played soccer on the boys team and ran track instead of trying out for cheerleading. I am the heaviest in my main social crowd (women on the block), even when I am a 12, but as long as I'm kicking my butt working out and eating right, I can't get too worried.

But what I want is to be a D cup again. This G business is for the birds.

Anonymous said...

I feel so guilty right now. I had Casey's pizza with a Coke last night.

I'm a lot like you in that rather than just keeping the bad body image at the front of my mind, I've learned to deal with it. I'm not saying I'm some 400 pound "someone get me a electric cart at Walmart cuz I can't walk" kinda gal.. but I've learned to deal with the fact that I'll never wear a bikini.

Now, I'm off to Celebrity Wheel of Fortune. *giggles*

Meadowlark said...

As Scary Mommy says, 12's aren't 12's anymore.

Everybody I went to school with was a 9/10. The tiny ones were 7/8s. Now every girl is a zero... and yet they're not that much smaller, since they wear size 10 shoes (and I have noticed vanity sizing creeping into shoes as well).

We all have our parts... I can wear a bikini, provided there's a skirt attached to it that covers the thighs!!! :)

Jennifer said...

I would probably maim to be a size 12 and kill to be in a single digit. Actually I would just love to not have to shop in the "women's" (read FAT LADY) department.

LazyCrazyMama said...

HaHa! I was always a size 12 too. I think that weight has little to do with it, as you may wear your weight differently at different times.
I ended up gaining tons after high school, with my first marriage, and through college... I think I ended up a size 18 or bigger!! Then, after my first marriage ended I decided that I needed to take care of myself (and make myself more desirable of course!) and lost tons of weight - got down to a size 5!!! But of course gained tons of weight with my first pregnancy - back in a size 16 after that until after I lost the weight from baby #2, then I was finally back in a size 12 (although same here, I weighed as much as I did when I was in size 16s and 12s were too tight!).

OHmommy said...

Yeah... I too have always struggled with the whole weight issue. Doesn't help that I have gained 180 pounds in 7 years of birthing children.

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

I read that clothing companies have changed sizes--made 10s the new 8s, the 2s the new Zeros, etc. so woman don't get upset when they shop.
It kind of makes sense to me--there were no Zeros when I was younger yet now there's even double zero :0

Kikit said...

I also have a weight issue. But unlike most ladies, I want to gain a few more pounds. I'm so petite I always have to buy clothes at the kids section.