I was about 4 years old here without a care in the world regarding physical body image.
I’m going to get very personal in this blog. The relevance of my deeply personal experience might actually be very relatable to some of you who were raised in the 90’s and had parents who never practised or understood the emotional delicacy of self-love, which during that time was very common.
I’m going to illustrate to you why self love, awareness and acceptance of yourself during the life journey is so incredibly important and why it correlates to self body image. The awareness of my body image was dragged out of the subconscious into my consciousnesses when I was at the tender age of 13.
I had travelled to Poland to visit my grandparents. I spent my entire 2 month summer there that year. I had a great time with my grandparents, eating fresh cooked Polish food, laughing and having fun like the kid I was. As a child prior to puberty I was very skinny, I was also a picky eater and wasn’t hungry often. To be honest I had severe anxiety even going to daycare because I remember till this day that I was continuously worried that I would be made to eat whatever they were serving. While I was in daycare and up to grade 2 I lived in communist Poland 1980’ something so love and compassion didn’t exactly exist for those who shunned food as it was a scarce commodity then.
As August had come to an end and so had my vacation in Poland. I made my way back across the pond to Canada seemingly the same 13 year old I left 2 months prior. That is until I was reunited with my parents. I’m assuming I had gained weight – how much? I have no idea as at that point I was not yet obsessed with weight or scales but it must have been a visible change to my parents from a very svelte me in June to a new me in August because upon seeing me informed me that I needed to go on a diet and grandma fed me too much.
It would be decades before I processed the incredibly damaging blow to my self-esteem, to how I viewed myself, to my self-confidence; in that very moment at that airport I became fully aware of what was unacceptable in the physical state. As a child you are programmed to please your parents and gain approval, so thus began my journey into a toxic relationship with food and the need to be perfect or at the very least better than what I was at that airport in that moment. It was a moment of pure shame and I don’t think I’ll ever forget that feeling because it’s been years and it’s never left me. Please really listen to how you speak to your children regarding health, weight management, and their self image especially during puberty. Educate them, encourage them to workout with you, cook with them, but don’t ever shame them into weight loss it will leave lasting consequences and more than likely a very screwed up relationship with food into adulthood
All through my teens and my early 20’s I yo yo dieted, starved myself, my weight or “belly” was at times still topic of conversation with my folks. As part of the parcel of negative body image came the need to workout. That was truly the only upside to being obsessed with being “thin.” I grew up in the era of the 90’s “supermodel” and the over sexualization of women so I think enough said and how that added to the already delicate emotional balance of understanding who I was at that tender age of teen maturity vs what I was supposed to appear to be.
Childhood experiences add to how we view ourselves, I’m writing this for those who are struggling to fulfill someone else’s view of how they should look or who they should be. Being healthy and staying healthy has to be done exclusively for you first before anyone else. Often I wonder if my parents had never brought up how much weight I had gained while on that trip would I have been as obsessed with body image as I had been?
When I found fitness and began to truly love it and appreciate what it did for my mental health as oppose to my physical health I wanted to scream it from he roof tops and share it with others. Ironically the very thing which was supposed to “fix me” physically actually fixed me mentally and spiritually. Movement is cathartic, it releases everything else but that very moment which needs attention in the now. My passion for movement became less about how exercise could physically change me (and in some incredibly positive ways) but it allowed me to heal some of those broken pieces of me which strived for that physical perfection and negated actual self love which is absolutely necessary for our own acceptance. Move to authentically heal all of you not just the parts others judge and see. Someone will always be judgemental of you, but don’t ever let yourself listen to the judgment of others instead focus only on what you truly want on this life journey.
In this pic I was 8 years old and still pretty scrawny small