Those of you who keep up with this blog know that I (like many other women of the current day and age) have more than one hang-up about my body – and that I recently started going to the gym at long last to try and take positive control over it. I’m learning how to do that through a program at my gym that involves working with both a trainer and a nutritionist to learn how to combine exercise and eating to transform my lifestyle into one of healthy balance.
Having been “the fat one” for the majority of my life, I won’t deny on any terms the fact that up until now, my life has not been a healthy balance of exercise and eating. I was never really very good at most of the team sports we were forced to play in PE class all throughout school and I also used food as an emotional crutch of sorts to make up for a lot of things that were going on in my life.
My nutritionist is big on the psychology of food – in other words, what makes us so reliant on food for more than just its nutritional value – and talking with her has illuminated a lot of interesting points in my codependent history with food. One of the first things I realised was that my negative body image and lack of physical self-confidence is, in fact, directly related to the way I use food.
Funnily enough, it’s all down to my boobs.
Nowadays, I speak of my hefty cup size with flippant and blunt humor, but it has taken a long time for me to learn how to love my boobs. I know it’s hard to imagine somebody not loving the fact that they have an awesome rack, but try these personal facts on for size:
- My current cup size is not sold in regular lingerie shops
- I didn’t reach my final cup size until a few years ago
- I skipped the whole “training bra” stage, simply because I went from flat chest to a C-cup within a year
- And, oh yeah, I got that first C-cup bra when I was ten
From the beginning of my school days, I was always aware that I was different. For the first couple of years at my public elementary school, my brothers and I were among the very few dark-haired non-Caucasians in the student body. I myself was, at the time, tall for my age (I’m five-none, which is pretty short, but when you’re that height at age nine you’re bound to stick out more than just a little), and while I wasn’t always grossly fat I was pretty sturdily-built.
When mine became literally the only pair of boobs in the third grade, the horrendous trial-by-fire known as gym class became even more of a nightmare. From hearing the whispers from my “normal” female classmates in the girls’ changing room to the heavy dismay that settled whenever ball sports were announced (because on those days, the boys used to throw all manner of spherical athletic equipment at my chest before the teacher got mad), my boobs stuck out so much that I stuck out even more than I already did with my height and non-Caucasian face.
I had always been a big eater, but not having many friends anymore at school meant that an early childhood of energetic playing with the neighbor-kids was quickly replaced by the more solitary life brought by books, music, and art. I was also eating more and more out of boredom and comfort than out of hunger and necessity. Not surprisingly, it was around this time that I started gaining weight quickly.
At first, I was pretty upset about it because suddenly I was actually fat and the meaner ones in my class were pointing that out, too, in addition to everything else. But all of a sudden I was just “the fat girl,” simply because the sudden growth underneath my C-cups had rendered my breasts entirely irrelevant. And any woman out there with a big chest will agree with me when I say that having anything render a large cup size irrelevant has to be pretty staggeringly huge indeed.
It seemed easier to me to deal with being larger than everyone else all over than simply just in one specific area, and hiding behind food and my weight became normal for me. It wasn’t until my long—term health became an actual issue that I actually started facing up to my responsibilities towards myself concerning food and exercise, but even with all of this new and amazing help and all of this strong motivation I have to be perfectly honest. I have to say that those childhood experiences at school made my psychological reliance on food a lot worse than it would’ve been had I grown up with an age-appropriate body, and that it’s going to be the hardest part of this journey.
Last week, though, I think I was able to get over the first hurdle on that particular stretch. I was attempting to use the battle ropes in the way my trainer had demonstrated to me and five other women during a group training circuit, and found doing it a hell of a lot more difficult than it looked. Noticing my struggle, my trainer came up to me and, with a firm but gentle hand, guided my upper body into the correct position.
“Your back has to be straight,” she said. “Straight, like the way you stand when you’re proud! And you should be proud – proud of yourself and proud of your body.”
Later on my way out, I found that walking with anything slightly less than a ramrod-straight back made everything hurt even more than it did already, and as I stiffly walked by reception she stopped me and made me look at my faint reflection in the glass doors.
“Stay proud,” she said, “because it looks even better when you’re in normal clothes.”