Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Feelings About Looks

I have thoughts about looks.

Here are my thoughts.

How you feel about your looks is not synonymous with how you feel about yourself.

Yes--looking better adds to a general feeling of well-being--but feeling good about yourself should not be based on how you look.

I realize these are relatively simple statements. Apparently, a lot of people don't feel the same way.

The facts about my appearance do not affect how I see myself. It affects how you might see me. But this is not the same thing.

If I weight less, I feel healthier--and that is wonderful! I love having more energy and I generally am more eager to go out and do things. But in my mind--the way I think and the way I view myself and others--that hasn't changed.

Because of this, whether I'm skinny or fat--I carry this little bit of insecurity with me. I always feel a little like an outsider--because that's how I see myself.  If my looks change--then some of you will see me differently.  I have friends who notice the change in appearance, but then we move on to talking and laughing and everything is just as it always was.

I'm thinking about weight and how we see ourselves and one another because I had this strange conversation in a thread on Facebook with a guy who just couldn't get past the fact that I had admitted to being fat. Or rather--I admitted to being fat as a sidenote to a point I was making--and he kept harping on that one point. He just kept coming back to it. He wanted to solve it. He wanted me to promise that I would get help. While losing weight is certainly a healthy choice--I didn't understand why he kept coming back to the topic. I finally realized that he thought that when I said "I'm fat", I was also saying, "I hate myself." He talked about how he had lost a lot of weight and how much better he felt about himself. I realized that for him--he couldn't like himself if he was fat.

The conversation was about whether men or women should make the first move. I said that I preferred to wait for the guy to make the move because different guys have different types, and being a fat girl, I would prefer the guy make the move because it's the only way for me to know if the guy is into curvy girls. It was an innocent example. Some guys like thin girls, some guys like curvy girls. It's hard to tell at first what a guy is interested in.

And instead of commenting on that statement, he just kept talking about how I needed to lose weight. He said I was in denial. He said that unless I was sick, I had no excuse to be fat. It was really annoying. Not because I believe that it's better to be fat--but because he was unable to hear anything else I had to say.

I'm happy that he has lost weight. That's wonderful. But I'm heartbroken for him because his self worth is so wrapped up in his physical appearance.

I want to know that I will still like who I am when I'm old and wrinkled and saggy. I like knowing that the things that make up who I am have little to do with my measurements. My identity is not wrapped up in my weight.

At the same time, my appearance seems to change how others see me. It changes how people treat me. This is frightening honestly. Because how I see myself doesn't change a lot--it is nerve wracking to look beautiful. A couple of years ago, I lost enough weight to look like this:

My clothes fit loosely. It was easy to look good.

And during that time, I had my heart broken several times over.

I was still who I was on the inside, but I looked different on the outside. And I did not have the strength inside myself to protect myself. So I gained all the weight back and then some in order to be safe.

I don't know why I wasn't able to protect myself from heartbreak. I don't know why it is so frightening to be thinner. I do not why I feel so unsafe when I'm not carrying extra weight. But in order for me to change my outside appearance, I need to find a way to strengthen the way I see myself on the inside. I like who I am now--but I know that I have these weaknesses that have nothing to do with my appearance that I need to work on in order for me to bravely shed the extra pounds. 

Realizing that I can like myself regardless of what I look like--is a big first step. I think.

Honestly, it's hard to tell if I'm moving forward or backwards right now. I'm me. And whether I look good or bad--I'm always just gonna be me.



Yes! Yes! Yes! This blog post is full of so much wisdom. And this line: "How you feel about your looks is not synonymous with how you feel about yourself." Thanks for sharing, Eve!

Eve said...

Thank you!

EA said...

Always a pleasure, Eve.

JM said...

Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

Tanja C. said...

Loved reading this. I can relate.