Since the beginning of December I've been involved in a rigorous exercise regimen. Since the beginning of January I've been eating very healthy cutting out soda and anything processed. I have in total lost 6 lbs in four months and 3% body fat. This is great news! I should be delighted that I'm getting stronger and eating better. This is not how I have been feeling though..... I have been feeling confused as to how someone can kill it at the gym 6 days a week, 2 of which I am working with a personal trainer and only drop around 1.5 lbs per month and less than 1% body fat per month. This is what it's like to be a slightly "overweight" female in America. Things can't happen fast enough and we can't even see our little accomplishments for what they are.
There is another issue at hand, I'm body positive! I think all sizes and shapes are fucking gorgeous. This is a part of the reason I started the Body Project (you can see photos by clicking link at the top). So, the dilemma is: What do you do when you know all bodies are beautiful but you find yourself frustrated that you don't weigh your goal weight of 175 lbs? I have often felt like a walking contradiction. I see tons of body positive women that are rocking it at 300 lbs and I wish I could do that. I often wonder if they ever feel like I do? I see posts on Instagram of these women eating the beautiful pastries and promoting donut eating! Which I love and support, but I often wonder do they feel like shit after eating it.... because when I eat donuts I feel like death afterwards?
Damned if you do damned if you don't. I want to eat whatever I want, but I also don't want to move after eating a large pizza to myself. Did I really want to eat that entire pizza or is this just a way to comfort myself and hide from other issues?
What if you are body positive weighing in at 220 lbs and you decide one day that you want to start working out and eating better to see if it improves they way you feel...... how do you know then if you really want to do this or if society has been so deeply embedded in your head that you don't even know how to differentiate. I truly think that you do know this answer..... I did and i'm being completely honest when I say it's a little bit of both. I want to feel strong and healthy for myself but I also kinda want others to think I look good (oh god, that was hard to admit). I've been over 200 lbs since my senior year of high school and i've had plenty of time to see how being of a certain size gets you things in life, that others have to work extra hard for.
What if you weigh in at 110 lbs and your 5'7" and you want to gain weight but it's really difficult for you. I can't write too much on this topic because this will all be assumptions.... I like to write best from my own reality which is a 5'7", 211 lbs female; but I know beautiful women who are going through this.
As i'm writing this I just have to say, I feel like this is such a huge topic, that weighs heavy on a lot of peoples minds, no pun intended. I'm no expert on this topic I just speak from personal experience. I know I can't be the only woman out there curious and fighting with this same thoughts. To accept your body at any size is what I promote, but I can't help feeling guilty when I want to lose weight and I also feel guilty when I eat sugar all day long.
The last time I went through these rapid feelings of confusion and frustration I started taking daily naked self portraits on my FujiFilm Instax Camera. I did this everyday for 9 months. There were 12 others that also participated in this process. Throughout this project I began to see my body as a vessel, not a definition of myself. I saw the beautiful shapes the body can make. In a way I objectified my body by choice. I looked at my body as a being that encompassed my innards, that kept me alive. It was mentally transformative. I am going to start this up again. I need it right now. I had a feeling when I ended the Body Project the 1st time it wasn't actually over. That 9 month end date was bullshit. I highly recommend doing this project for yourself if you feel like you are in a similar position and you can always email me with and questions about it.
As I get older I realize there are not these end dates that I keep looking for. It's not like someday I'll wake up and say, "oh ok, yes I'm good now, I can just stop trying at things because the day has come that I feel secure in every part of my life." That would never work because life is constantly changing. I know that there will be those days that I do feel on top of the world and weight, height, boob size, what i'm eating that day, who's on facebook, yadda, yadda won't matter at all because i'm content.
At the end of the day sometimes a girl just needs to vent. It's not like any one person can give me this perfect answer that will suddenly make me "unquestion" everything i've been questioning for years. This is why I make art like I do. I'm curious about the identity of females and how we navigate through things we have been held back by such as our bodies and our sexuality. How do we thrive in a modern society that more often than not makes us look like survivors (many of us are survivors but surviving life and thriving at it are very different). A while back a fellow grad student of mine was upset about an all female show. She said it was emphasizing that we are not simply seen as artist, that we are female artists. At the time this was hard for me to wrap my head around because getting into an art show is pretty awesome. Over the years though I see what she means. I also believe by having an art show with all females you can raise awareness of how ridiculously amazing female artists are and the fact that women are way under represented by galleries to the point where its a special event when it's all women showing in one room.
Coming full circle, I know that only I can determine the way I want to live my life and if I want to work out like a beast and eat kale all fucking day then I should. I also should eat cake all day if it makes me feel good and happy. Or I can do both, which is more of my reality. I always know the answer to my own dilemmas but that doesn't mean they disappear. They just need to be discussed and thought about.
I'm about to start reading, Hot and Heavy- Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion edited by Virgie Tovar, I'm hoping this book can shed some insightful wisdom about body image upon me. You can bet I'll be writing up something about it once I finish.
This will often be a topic of discussion as it is a huge part of my life. I will end with this: no matter what, try to love yourself as much as you can. There will be frustrating days and days where you feel like you contradict yourself but the more you remind yourself that small, medium, and big are just words and the feeling of loving who you are extends far beyond someone else's definition of your physical attributes. This advice is for you as well as myself.