One of the most difficult things about embracing Health At Every Size (HAES) is learning to accept the body you live in. I’ve been working on this for a long time, years in fact, with varying levels of success. Only recently have I learned to step in front of the camera and not only allow myself to be photographed but to not denigrate myself when doing so. You see, I used to allow pictures once in a while but would make a big fuss about hating having my picture taken. And then when I would look at the pictures I would only see my flaws. I’m working on that though. Now I want to be in some of the pictures, I want that evidence that I was there, having a good time with everyone else. And when I look at them I see the facial expressions, the good time, the funny memory. I’ve learned (through lots of practice) to use objective language when I self-describe instead of harsh judgement.
Self acceptance is, of course, the most important type. But we live in the real world and others are not always so accepting. I’ve always been a people pleaser and in addition to learning to love and embrace my body I’ve also had to learn to let go of letting others dictate how I feel about myself. I’ve made a lot of gains in this area and can generally just don’t pay a lot of attention to looks from others but there is still a lot of judgement directed my way at times and it’s difficult to ignore it all. But I’m getting there.
I also still face practical challenges and I have to accept those as well. We took a mini-vacation last week and had a lovely time. But there were a few moments when I had to actively remind myself that my weight doesn’t control my fun. When we found ourselves in crowds and literally everyone was bumping into the people around them I had to do some inner dialogue to remind myself that my size wasn’t the problem, the crowd was the problem. When I got a withering look from the man running this ride…
I hesitated. I almost didn’t try the ride because I was afraid I would be embarrassed if the seat belt wouldn’t close. But my sunglasses made it easy to pretend I didn’t notice his look so I kept smiling and forged on. It was fine. It was better than fine because I was laughing and having fun with my daughter. And I almost missed that moment because of fear.
I used to blame a lot of missed moments on my weight but I see now that it was fear. So many weight loss stories include someone talking about finally living life, finally being comfortable in their skin, finally getting off the sidelines. I am sad and angry that I believed that lie for so long and let my own fears hold me back. I don’t have to be thin to be happy. I can live life to the fullest right now. And that’s exactly what I intend to do.