Thursday, 19 April 2012

on mirrors and judgement

Yesterday evening I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, Since when have I looked so fat.

The thought remained still for a second before cracking into pieces.

I thought, Oh no not this again.

And, Right no more carbs and a lot more yoga. 

And then, Stop it. Now. 

My body and my relationship with my body is something I haven't written about on my blog. Ever. Not because I haven't had anything to say about it but because it seems too messy. There is too much to write about, too many tangles for me to address at once.

I haven't weighed myself since the age of fourteen. I don't want to know my weight. I don't need to know. I protect myself from these things because I'm scared of the perfectionism and the perseverance and the endless anger in me. I know what I am capable of doing to myself and I definitely do not want to go there.

There have been times when I have hated my body so much I wished I could have stripped off my skin and muscle and fat and danced around in my bones, as sung by Tom Waits. There have also been long periods of time when I have been able to look at myself neutrally. There have very rarely, if ever, been times when I have looked at myself in the mirror and thought I was thin enough.

You wouldn't guess it if you met me, I think.

I'm the girl who is sensible about these things. I eat what I want to eat. Ethical choices build up my diet; calorie-counting and avoiding carbs or sugars or fats are out of the question. I don't even know how much calories a woman my size needs per day -- my ignorance is just another layer of self-protection, of course. I avoid processed foods and artificial sweeteners and I cook all my meals myself. I'm a self-confessed foodie.

And yet I'm the girl who comes home and sucks her belly in and looks at her hips and her chin and her thighs and thinks, This must change.

Or not.

Some nights I see that same reflection and like what I see. (Actually no, I don't like it. I love it without liking it, because love is not a judgement. I love it, which means I accept and acknowledge the faults, and those faults make me love the reflection even more. But I would like to like my body in addition to loving it.)

During the last five years or so I have managed to settle my head on my shoulders and my brain in my head about my body. I have grown to understand my body a bit more. I try to treat myself well, and with patience.

And yet somewhere in me there is the fear. The fear of the things I could do to myself if I let the nagging in the back of my head get to me.

There are few things as cruel as that nagging. You know what it says, I'm sure. We all know.

I don't know exactly what my point is here. I just wanted to sit down and write about this because it's scary and uncomfortable for me to talk about my body. To talk about how much time I spend thinking about what I should not eat but do, about what I could wear but can't.

But here it is. I'm the girl who sometimes looks in the mirror and thinks, When did I get so fat. Sometimes I'm the girl who thinks, Oh I didn't realise I was that thin. It's the same body, I haven't gained or lost any weight overnight -- that I can look at it in two different ways is scary and sad. It's scary and sad that my self-esteem, my sense of worth, depends on my size. And that what size I feel like depends on my self-esteem.

I don't know what my point is, I just wanted to write. Because it's high time. Because right now I'm going through a bad phase, a phase where I would prefer not to go outside at all because I don't want people to see how big I am.

I know it's in my head. I know that this too shall pass. But it can never go away fast enough.


  1. I love you for writing about this and I admire your bravery to do so.
    I see lots of my own thoughts in yours. Although my perverted way of seeing myself has had maybe more severe consequences...

  2. Thank you. This wasn't easy to write and hitting publish was even more difficult.

    I know you struggle with this, and to be completely honest I don't know how that must feel. Hope you're feeling good today, at the very least.

  3. you've nailed the difference between loving and liking - gosh, I want to save that for future reference.

  4. i've read this over and over again. amazing.

  5. Hi, I'm new to your blog, found it(or actually, your old one) by accident when searching for Kyllikki Villa's quotes in English...Anyways, what you have written here is pretty much completely similar to what I am feeling most of my days. Having gone through some very hard times, you have captured in words what I often do not wish to think about. So thank you for that, and I hope you have patience, and learn to be more compassionate with yourself: )