Thursday, July 24, 2014

Body Talk: The Comparison Game

Amber from Mr. Thomas and Me and I are hosting this link-up today: Body Talk. I strongly encourage you to read Amber's blog and follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Her writing is absolutely beautiful, and her Instagram game is incredible. Thank you Amber, for coming up with this link-up idea and for being such a generally wonderful person.

"Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closes to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes."
-Tina Fey, Bossypants

When I was a kid, I never worried about how my body looked. I was always skinny, thanks to sports and the fact that my friends and I liked to play outside riding bikes and running around. I never thought about what size my clothes were, or if my thighs jiggled, or if I had a double chin. The first time I paid attention to a size on clothes was when I was in Gap with my mom and I ended up leaving with a pair of size 0 khakis. I remember being proud of that 0, and I wore the crap out of those khakis. I also had really great style in general, as evidenced by this photo of me wearing a fruit shirt and socks with my ballet flats.


When I started high school I thought about my size every single day. I constantly pulled at my love handles and judged any place on my body that jiggled. I thought that because there were people I knew who were thinner than me, that meant I was fat. One of my friends in high school was a runner, and one day we walked through Ross (which always smells like stale urine) and she pulled three pairs of jeans off the rack; all size 2.

"Aren't you going to try them on?" I asked, incredulous.
"Nah, I'm always a size two at Ross. Let's go get some ice cream," she replied nonchalantly.

I remember two things about that experience: 1) being astounded that she could eat ice cream and be a size two, and 2) feeling ashamed because I knew I would never be that size. My thoughts drifted back to those pants from The Gap and I silently shamed myself for "getting fat."

When I was 18, and absolutely thought I was fat. And cool. I was neither.
The truth is, I wasn't fat. I wasn't skinny, either, but I definitely wasn't fat. I was playing the comparison game, which I'm willing to bet every single one of you has also played at one time or another. I was comparing myself to my friend who was 6 inches shorter than me and had a different body type, and I was comparing my 16 year old body to my 12 year old body or any body I saw that was smaller than my own.

In college, I tried to stop thinking that way. I was surrounded by all kinds of different body types, and I tried to stop comparing myself to everyone else. I failed miserably and in turn, I made myself miserable. I got mad at my body because my metabolism didn't move at warp speed and I didn't look like so many other girls. I got mad at myself for not having self control and not working out every day and not eating salads at every meal. I would look at pictures and judge myself harshly, pointing out all of my flaws to myself and thinking, "If you weren't so lazy and if you had any amount of self-control, you wouldn't be feeling like this right now."

I wish I could say that the cycle has ended and I now have a healthy relationship with food, with working out, and with my body, but the truth is I don't. I have a better relationship with all of those things than I used to, but I still struggle all the time. In fact, earlier this week I was tagged on Facebook in a bunch of pictures from the wedding I was in back in May, and the only thoughts running through my head were negative thoughts. I picked apart every single photo and judged myself so harshly for the way I looked in those photos, especially compared to all the other girls in the pictures.

The comparison game will never end, but that doesn't mean I have to let it win.

My body will never look like my high school friend's body, whose hip bones stuck out so far and who is still a size 2 at Ross, but that's ok. I will probably never be a size 0 at Gap again, but that's ok. What's not ok is feeling bad about my body and consoling myself by eating a bag of gummi worms for dinner. What's not ok is saying, "Well, my pants don't fit anyway, so I may as well eat two donuts for breakfast." What's not ok is judging myself based on the number on the scale or the size on the tag of my jeans. Even when I was smaller in high school and college, I wasn't healthy. I just had a good metabolism. Now that my metabolism has slowed down (screw you getting older), my body shows me when I'm being unhealthy. So I'm trying to shift my focus off of the numbers and onto just making better choices and being healthy, because that's what's important. I'm focusing on little changes, like drinking water over diet coke, or eating fruit for breakfast instead of donuts, and especially snacking on healthy things like cucumbers instead of Ritz crackers dipped in frosting, and hiking over Netflix. I think the biggest change I'm trying to make is taking action instead of just comparing and complaining.

The numbers aren't what matter. What matters is that I'm healthy and that I'm not constantly telling myself negative things, that I'm not always comparing myself to my jr. high body or anybody else, and that my self-worth isn't based strictly on my outward appearance. It's a hard lesson to learn and a hard mindset to have, but I'm getting there.

Mr. Thomas & Me

Allieology

24 comments:

  1. I love this so, so much. It is beautifully written and you are absolutely right about so many things. I am going to remember this post when I look at those “before” pictures.

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  2. You are completely right. This post was amazing. I too, still struggle with this. But even when I was at my skinniest, I could never be a size 0 because I have such an athletic build. I remember trying to pull a size 2 over my thighs once, and they wouldn't budge. And I sat and cried in the dressing room because I was so "fat." It took me almost 5 years to except my muscular thighs. Wouldn't it be nice if they made some kind of magic machine to make jeans that fit perfect?

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  3. You're right, we make baby steps and sometimes it feels like every step forward sometimes contains two steps back. But we make steps forward. I think the more and more we women collaboratively talk about our body issues the more we can work together to bring change. Comparing bodies is like comparing fruit, we all have our different lumps and curves but we're all pretty damn sweet.

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    1. "Comparing bodies is like comparing fruit, we all have our different lumps and curves but we're all pretty damn sweet."

      I never thought about it like this, but it's so true!

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  4. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!! I fight this every day! I exhaust myself between beating myself up for not being what I feel like I should look like and working out everyday to try to fit that mold that obviously my body will never fit.... I'm 5'2" I will never be a super model...it's so hard to quiet the critic in my mind and I am so glad that you wrote this because it makes me feel like someone get's it! (Holy crap why am I crying? Again thank you)

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  5. This is SUCH a good post! I am constantly comparing myself to other girls and it only makes me feel bad about myself. I am working on just focusing on myself and doing what I need to do to feel healthy & get back my confidence - for me!

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  6. Love it love it love it. I like how you are aware that it will never end, but that doesn't mean you have to let it win. AGREED.

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  7. This is such a great post, and I love you so much for this. More people need to tell themselves this exact message EVERY day.

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  8. It definitely is all about the little changes now. I also had a fast metabolism growing up, and as I get older, it's getting slower. I haven't been handling it well, but I decided to switch up some things in my diet and start to do some form of exercise. It's going to be a slow process, but I already feel better knowing I'm doing something instead of nothing. Great post :)

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  9. It took a long time for me to accept that I'll never look like my high school self agian, but once I did I instantly felt relief - relief that I didn't have to try so damn hard to look like that 17 year old, relief that I could finally he "okay" with the way I looked, and relief that o could focus on looking forward instead of looking back.

    Keep doing the little things, because they are the ones that count, and before you know it they will all be second nature!

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  10. Thanks for sharing this great post. I also struggle with the comparison game -- all it does is lead to more and more negative thoughts and self-hatred. But, you're right. Being healthy and happy is way more important than what any number the scale or clothes say.

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  11. This is really beautifully written and I can relate to all of this. Reading this came at the right time for me, I have been struggling these last few weeks with being overly critical about my body and comparing myself to other people.Thanks for this wake up call!

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  12. You are MacGyver. It's official. And it's what I adore about thee.

    I have struggled wishing to look like I did in high school, but realize with it would go any and all cleavage I have, the hippy-ness I've acquired over the last decade, and my muscles that I didn't have as defined as I did in high school. It's so challenging to enjoy what we have now instead of taking it for granted because it isn't what we had then.

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  13. I guest posted at A faithful Passion about this exact thing yesterday... the comparison game is SO hard to overcome!

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  14. This is great! I struggle with comparing myself to what I looked like when I was younger, too, which is ridiculous because, duh, most people are skinnier at 12 years old. So thanks for this!

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  15. I love this post. I think we all can agree that we are our own worst critics. If we all joined together to make an effort to stop this we may have a lasting effect.

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  16. Heck yeah sister!! You're the best <3
    ALSO did you have your tongue pierced, or am I crazy??

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  17. I definitely struggle with this every single day too! I hate it when I allow myself to feel bad about the way I look, but it honestly happens all the time. Love this post and your honesty!

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  18. Love this. Thanks for being so honest! I struggle with this everyday.

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  19. this is all so true and what has helped me now (i just turned 29) is realizing that all those times back when when I thought I was fat, I look back at now and im like, omg, why didn't i appreciate it??? So now I try to focus on appreciating my body because who knows what ill look like in 20-30 years (i'm praying for jennifer anniston's body)

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  20. This is such an important message for everyone to read. We are all guilty of thinking we should be skinnier or prettier or shorter or whatever and we should be happy with who we are and how we are made. LOVE YOU

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  21. Love this post...I remember the first time I ever thought about weight. It was 5th grade and I remember one of my classmates making fun of me being I wore "regular" sized girls pants, I didn't wear slim. I wish I could go back to that day and erase my memory.

    -Jackie
    http://ournashvillelife.com

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  22. love this! i don't remember when i first noticed weight, or pooches, or love handles, but I do remember being ashamed of them and worrying about them. now i (mostly) don't care, but i have my days and unflattering photos that still make me cringe. just like you, i'm trying to work on making healthier choices for my body.

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  23. I wish I was better at having a healthy body image. I was crying in church today because as I folded my arms I could feel my love handle under my skirt and I got really really down on myself and sobbed in the car. Fun.

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