“Mom, am I fat?”
I remember the first time I asked that question. I was standing in the kitchen of my childhood home.
“You’re sturdy,” she replied. “You’ve got muscles.”
What I wanted her to say was, “Of course you’re not fat.”
That was the beginning of a long – really long – period during which I thought almost constantly about my body and how it looked. Or, more importantly, how it didn’t look in my eyes.
It took years to get to a place of feeling comfortable in my own skin. I’ve often thought back to those years I devoted to worrying and stressing about how my body looked, wondering: What could I have done with all that time and energy?
I was reminded of that sentiment when reading this piece by Jessica Valenti in The Nation, which recently came up in my Twitter feed. In it, she’s talking about women and their need to be liked — and how that need causes changes in their behavior that have long-term effects on how they perceive their place in the world – and how others perceive them. This line, in particular, resonated with me: “It pains me to think of what I could have achieved if I had that time back.”