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AJ'sAwesomeMom 09-26-2013 12:33 PM

Conflicting Body-Image Issues
 
So I have kind of a weird problem, and I'm curious if anyone else is or has previously experienced something similar.

I have a lot of body image issues regarding my weight (among other things), but they sort of conflict with each other. For example, if I look in a mirror naked or in a bathing suit, I am literally disgusted with how I look. Same goes for pictures of myself. But at the same time, I have a tendency to not realize just how big I've gotten. So take a fundraiser I attended last winter: I bought a dress online, and when it came it was shorter than I expected. But I tried it on with a pair of heels and thought, This looks pretty good! But when I saw pictures from the night, I looked like a gorilla stomping around in high heels and a short red dress. I looked ridiculous.

I used to be really fit. I played sports in high school and part of college, and just generally loved working out. And I think in my mind, I convince myself that I'm much smaller than I am which leads me to make poor choices in clothing...and when I realize how bad I looked, it makes me hate myself.

I have no idea if this makes any sense, but I think this distorted view of how much weight I need to lose is contributing to my inconsistency with working out and eating right. And I worry sometimes that even if I reach my goal weight, I'm still going to alternate between thinking that I look disgusting and dressing in too-tight, unflattering clothes because I think I look better than I do.

As an aside, I'm turning 30 in a month and a half, and sometimes I think I'm having a hard time dressing my age as well. I had my son when I was 22, and occasionally I find myself buying clothes that are way too young for me (and too small) in the hopes that it will motivate me to be able to fit into them...only to look ridiculous for a number of reasons once I stuff myself into them.

amandie 09-26-2013 12:56 PM

Yup, same here. It's all mental and we just naturally are critical of ourselves.

While I know I am not 226 pounds anymore, sometimes I still see a glimpse of her every now and then in the mirror. I try to focus on pictures rather than the mirror, they're more honest, if you know what I mean?

I understand you on your body, I have a lot of stretch marks, a built-in muffin top where my lower stomach is and some loose skin. It sucks but for me, it's a lot better than being 226lbs again. I try my best to focus on the good parts. It doesn't always work though!

I'm 27 and honestly, I am playing catch-up on dressing myself because I wasn't able to dress the way I wanted to. Some of it hinges on a bit too young and/or sexy for my age but for the most part, I think I dress okay? I stopped buying stuff that was too small for me because whenever I was able to finally fit in them, they didn't fit right (too loose in the thigh and crotch area, etc) ya know so I'd focus on buying what fits you the best right now.

AJ'sAwesomeMom 09-26-2013 01:05 PM

Thanks Amandie! It's true that pictures are more honest than the mirror...I should start taking pictures of myself before I leave the house!

I'm trying to buy more flattering clothes, but I'm finding it really, really hard to buy bigger sizes. And every year I go to the store saying, "This year I'll buy a one-piece" and every year I leave with another bikini - that I was convinced in the store looked great on me.

I'm glad to know I'm not alone...I've been struggling with body image issues for 8 years, and I'm ready to make the changes I need to in order to get to where I want to be. And I just keep reminding myself that I may not be perfect when I get there, but I'll be healthier and a heck of a lot happier.

Best of luck on your journey, and I can only imagine that you look fabulous!

Radiojane 09-26-2013 03:30 PM

I seem to suffer from the exact same thing. I can leave the house thinking I look fabulous, and then I see the picture and wonder what the heck I was thinking.

I deluded myself so badly about my size, and the worst was when I lost the first 100. Who loses 100 pounds and doesn't look waaayyyyy better? Someone that still has another 300 to lose, that's who.

The first step is making the change. And it's tough when your illusions about yourself are shattered. But you'll feel so much better when you get there.

merrilymemory 09-27-2013 10:40 PM

I've always had a similar problem too, where the mirror is my friend but photos aren't. I think, though, that having confidence in yourself, at least some, is a factor and so thinking you look great isn't always a bad thing. Also, photographs can often be taken in an unflattering manner too--don't forget that!

But I do understand how hard it is to think "is that how people see me?" But I still believe that people read how you feel and take cues off of that. No matter what, good luck in all that you do.

Catgoyle 09-28-2013 01:38 AM

weird, I was just talking to someone about this same thing yesterday. How I look down at myself and don't think I look as big as I really am. Then see a picture and realize I am huge. The person I was talking to has struggled with anorexia, and always see herself fat. I wondered if I did see myself as fat as I am, maybe I wouldn't have let myself keep getting bigger? Or would I have gone the other extreme like her and be anorexic?

Riestrella 09-28-2013 08:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AJ'sAwesomeMom (Post 4849233)
So I have kind of a weird problem, and I'm curious if anyone else is or has previously experienced something similar.

I have a lot of body image issues regarding my weight (among other things), but they sort of conflict with each other. For example, if I look in a mirror naked or in a bathing suit, I am literally disgusted with how I look. Same goes for pictures of myself. But at the same time, I have a tendency to not realize just how big I've gotten. So take a fundraiser I attended last winter: I bought a dress online, and when it came it was shorter than I expected. But I tried it on with a pair of heels and thought, This looks pretty good! But when I saw pictures from the night, I looked like a gorilla stomping around in high heels and a short red dress. I looked ridiculous.

I have felt exactly like this for about 10 years. I will get dressed, think I look fine, but then I'll catch a reflection or see a picture (as you said) and think "what went SO horribly wrong?! Why did people let me walk around like that??" I do believe people can be VERY critical of themselves, we are always searching for perfection and if we don't look "perfect" then we freak out.

Quote:

I used to be really fit. I played sports in high school and part of college, and just generally loved working out. And I think in my mind, I convince myself that I'm much smaller than I am which leads me to make poor choices in clothing...and when I realize how bad I looked, it makes me hate myself.

I have no idea if this makes any sense, but I think this distorted view of how much weight I need to lose is contributing to my inconsistency with working out and eating right. And I worry sometimes that even if I reach my goal weight, I'm still going to alternate between thinking that I look disgusting and dressing in too-tight, unflattering clothes because I think I look better than I do.
It's quite normal to be critical of ourselves, but I think the level of hate you feel is serious. I think you might have a more developed case of body dysmorphia...which is just the official term given to people who have a hard time seeing an image and processing what it really means. So in your case you felt you were smaller than you were, so you bought small clothes, then you realised they were too small so you took that out on yourself. I think what you should do is shop with someone who is honest. Or even try and measure yourself so you have facts to go by when you shop. But perhaps if you had someone there they could tell you what is too big or too small.

I have had similar issues myself but in the opposite way - I would (and still do I suppose) buy things too big because I still THINK I am bigger than I am. It causes me to get upset with my choice of outfits, because I don't have any flattering clothes. So I think it's very important to our self esteem that we buy clothes that fit us just right, because if you buy either too big or too small then it can cause some emotional distress.

Quote:

As an aside, I'm turning 30 in a month and a half, and sometimes I think I'm having a hard time dressing my age as well. I had my son when I was 22, and occasionally I find myself buying clothes that are way too young for me (and too small) in the hopes that it will motivate me to be able to fit into them...only to look ridiculous for a number of reasons once I stuff myself into them.
30 is still a young age. I disagree when people think that once you hit 30 then your life is heading towards retirement and you have to think, act (and dress) "older". I think you need to, to put it bluntly, just drop the paranoia of how old you are. You are a person with a personality that isn't defined by your age. If you want to define yourself as a Mum who's trying to look young, then that says to me that you're worried that people will think you will look old because you're a Mum. That's just not the case! Think of who you want to be and dress to represent that side of yourself. Don't worry about what other people will think of you, dress how you want to FEEL. If you want to dress like a teen/young adult because that's how you want to feel, then do so. But if you just want to LOOK like that to hide some paranoia...then that's not good for your confidence because it's only an illusion.

It sounds like you need to learn to love yourself and who you are in the moment, not what you were before you had a son or who you will be when your son is graduating high school, but the you that is in the now. Learn to dress yourself based on how you look and are actually physically built. There's a great TV show in the UK that is aimed at women who struggle with confidence, it's called "how to look good naked", there might be a torrent out there or maybe it's on youtube. I always liked the message it delivered, that you don't have to be skinny to be sexy or you don't have to be super curvy to look amazing naked. You have what you've got and it's best to love what you have than want to be someone else or an unhealthy version of yourself.

Espronceda 09-28-2013 03:17 PM

I totally feel you. Even though I know I look thinner than at my highest weight, in the mirror I still see the same person - because I used to suck in my stomach when I looked in the mirror! So I feel like I look the same as I always did, but I know that before I was in denial about how big I was.

I also agree with pictures being difficult - a lot of my friends take pictures when we're swing dancing, and they are the least flattering pictures EVER. I do NOT want to be tagged in a picture where I look fat AND sweaty.

Mimi21 09-29-2013 05:41 PM

I have always been the same way. Sometimes I think ignoring how overweight I am is a way for me to mentally normalize my size and not be proactive about getting fit. But those pesky photos can't be ignored, can they? Photos are also a great way to get kicked out of your comfort zone. I absolutely detest being in photos so I'm normally the one who's taking them.

noelle8310 09-29-2013 06:36 PM

I know exactly how you feel. I will feel excellent, and like I look fantastic, and see a picture and I look like a HOUSE. Then I sink back into a depression, eat my feelings, and gain weight again. Fat ******* wasn't lying when he said it was a vicious cycle.

AJ'sAwesomeMom 09-30-2013 10:20 AM

It's so good to know I'm not alone! I've tried to talk to friends about this before, and I always get, "YOU'RE NOT FAT!" as a response...which can be very frustrating.

I know that almost all of it is psychological, and that half the battle is learning to overcome the negative feelings. It can just be hard when I thought I looked good to realize that maybe I didn't so much - and then spend the next two weeks feeling like I look terrible in everything I own.

Espronceda - I hear you about the sweaty pictures! My son has been training for a local kids race, and as part of our training we ran a 5k. They took pictures of us for the website because my son is 6, and I wanted to die when I saw them. Fat and sweaty is not a good look!

Mimi - I agree, sometimes I find myself looking in the mirror thinking, "I don't look so bad" and then putting off a workout or allowing myself to eat something I shouldn't. But I will say, pictures are certainly a motivator! I should just hang fat pictures of myself on the fridge so I won't eat bad stuff!

Noelle - It is a vicious cycle. But if we work hard, we can break it!

RadioJane - You are doing amazing...You've already lost 100 lbs! That's incredible! But I understand what you're saying...and I hope when I finally reach my goal I'll be able to fully appreciate it.

Merrily - I agree that confidence makes all the difference, and I try to remind myself of that when I start to think I looked bad on a particular day...but it's hard. I'm just trying to use the photos as motivation to keep going!

Catgoyle - It's funny that you mention anorexia. That's something that I've wondered about too, if I could end up with an eating disorder because of my body issues. But I realize that it's more likely that I'll just never reach my goal because I get it in my head that I'm not that big...It's so confusing!

Riestrella - Thank you so much for your wonderful insight! I'm dealing with a lot of self -esteem issues in addition to trying to lose weight, and I remember a trainer I worked with about 5 years ago telling me that she became a licensed therapist because she found that most of her clients had deeper-seeded problems to conquer before they could achieve their goals. I really appreciate all the support I've been receiving here, and I think I'm on my way to getting where I want to be.

Thank you all for your input, you are all doing an amazing job and are wonderful people. Best of luck in all your journeys!

noelle8310 09-30-2013 12:16 PM

those asterisks on mine are suppose to say the name of the excessively obese man from Austin Powers ;)

alicrimson88 09-30-2013 06:23 PM

I am very familiar with what you're going through. I think stores don't exactly help in this regard. Some use slanted mirrors or weird lighting, which is trickery. Like you, I played sports through college and recently put on a great deal of weight. Figuring out what works and doesn't work is hard, but we'll get there. You definitely aren't alone!

bopbot 10-01-2013 12:33 PM

I suffer from the same problem! I think one of the reasons I put the weight back on (and then some) after I reached 154lbs last year was because I didn't think I was that big anymore and started eating crap (and lots of it) again. How very strange.

CharityMarie 10-10-2013 10:31 AM

I can relate 100% to the original post. I get dressed and things dont feel tight or they seem to contour in a good way then I feel great! And as soon as I see myself in a picture I feel embarassed for simply being me. For being my size, for thinking I looked alright. I get down on myself when I see photos its like "wow you really felt confident leaving the house like that? better think again" and it works into this depression thing that just makes you feel like giving up at times.

I've been gaining weight for years since high school, and I still view myself as the same size.. when I'm very clearly not. Gotta get that into perspective to move forward =)


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