Navel Gazing and Other Hysterics

Accidental Shaming

Yesterday I blogged about Maria Kang, my anger, and body shaming, and I thought maybe I’d spend a little bit of time talking about my struggling with body shame, and shaming, today.

With the exception of very short snippets of my life, up until last year, I’ve been unhappy with my body. Those snippets were usually caused by a period of successful dieting, but occasionally by a minor athletic type victory – making the volleyball team in seventh grade, or making an important play with my softball team. It wasn’t only being fat, like everyone else, I had teenage acne, and made terrible hair decisions too. I went through a very rough stage where all my clothes looked like they belonged to very old men. But my life long fight with loving myself has always been weight related.

I’m currently mostly happy with my body. I’ve lost a lot of weight in the last 2 years, 105lbs. (I still have 25 to go.) But this time, my happiness isn’t just about weight loss. Don’t get me wrong, the weight loss is 80% of my ability to forget about hating this vessel that carries my soul, but the other 20% is my new found “athletic-ness” and the fact that this body made, carried, and delivered my children, and that is just so amazing to me. Yes, I did just say “mostly happy,” losing weight has revealed a number of other body issues that didn’t bother me before, stretch marks, sagging, the giant “Smith” nose, but I’m going to learn to live with them. (And, I have every intention of getting a tummy tuck once that 25lbs are gone.) But still. The 2016 version of Meagan is so much happier than all the previous versions – due in part to the weight loss, and in part to the journey, or the process, or the changes that I made or was forced to make to get here.

I end up talking a lot about weight loss, and my changing shape, both on here and in person with family, friends and acquaintances. Sometimes it’s my fault, but generally it’s in reaction to the dramatic changes that have taken place. Someone sees a picture of me from year ago and can’t believe I’m the same person. Or I bump into someone I haven’t seen in a long time.

I have to be really careful though, that my enthusiasm for the changes in my life, don’t turn into inadvertent body shaming. Technically, body shaming is shaming someone for their body type , or abuse of a person due to perceived physical flaws. We see it a lot in the media with tabloids picking on celebrities for gaining weight, or new mothers not losing it fast enough. I know that it is prevalent in certain sports like gymnastics, dance and wrestling where weight and body form are very important. But really, it’s about saying that it’s better to be one way than another, and that’s not completely true. We know now that weight isn’t a direct correlation to health, and I know firsthand that you can eat amazing and work out all the time and still have a high BMI.

Something that I noticed when I was heavier, and still feel now, is the body shaming that comes from people who have changed and in their evangelical zeal to sell you on whatever they are doing to change, manage to make you feel like shit. And I hate it.

I know I’ve done it too. Reading this blog back, I can see that I’ve done it. Attached value to being thinner over being heavier. Because I’m better now and I’m thinner now. But that isn’t the whole story. I’m better now cause I saw a therapist. I’m better now cause I’m writing more and living my dream. I’m better now cause I’m not depressed. I’m better now because I’ve learned how to deal with the stress in my life, the pain and pressure and frustration in my life. I’ve learned how to embrace things or let them roll off my back. It’s been a long journey, one that has changed my outside, and that’s easy to see, but it’s my inside that’s been the game changer.

I hope that what you take away from this is that it really has nothing to do with bodies, and everything to do with minds. I’m happier now, all of the changes I’ve made in the last couple of years have brought me to a really good spot.  But you’re not the same as me, and you need to do what’s right for you.

I hope if I’ve ever made you feel ashamed of your body that you’ll forgive me.  In sharing my journey I never intended to make anyone feel less. In all honesty, I don’t care at all about your body. I care about your happiness, and support you however you pursue it.

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