Friday, August 23, 2013


After a long talk with my friend, Amanda on body image and all that surrounds that topic I decided to write my thoughts on it. I'm not really sure where these posts are headed. I'm just kind of going for it and writing down stories from my life that have impacted me among other thoughts. I guess I'm really just trying to sort it all out for my own sake. So here it goes.....


Do you remember the first time that you felt self-conscious of yourself? That you weren't measuring up to societies standards of beauty? Was it a commercial or magazine ad or something someone said to you?

I was always a sneaky kid. I used to crawl from my bedroom to underneath the couch where I would watch the movies that my parents had rented. I saw Black Hawk Down and Schindler's List at a ridiculously young age.....Shame on me!

I also would sneak from my room to the bathroom where I could listen in on my parent's conversations through our thin walls. And it was on such an occasion that I heard my Dad call my fat.

My Dad used to pull up to the window at the McDonald's drive-thru and say (so as everyone could hear), "See girls, you need to work hard so you don't end up with a job like this." And, then he would make a comment about their weight and how it was holding them back in life. He didn't like some of my Mom's friends because they were slightly overweight. He didn't let my Mom buy butter because it would make us fat. My Dad spent more time in his gym than he did with us. He couldn't stand overweight people. A person’s size measured a person’s worth.

I must have been eight or nine when I overheard my Dad that night. A friend from church had given us candy, and Mom had stored it in a bowl in our broken microwave that we used as a cabinet. My Dad was getting on my Mom's case again about the food we eat. He said that it was disgusting how much sweets we had in the house. I heard him shuffling around and pulling the candy out from the microwave and the tasty-cakes out from the snack cabinet probably to throw them away to make his point. And, then he said something that landed on me like a ton of bricks, "You know Lyndsay eats a lot. She's getting pretty chunky."

I gasped and a sob caught in my throat. Because being called chunky by him didn't just mean that I needed to lose a few pounds, it meant that I was dumb and worthless and ugly. It meant that I couldn't hope for anything more than a life at the drive-thru window making minimum wage as people like my father would drive up and use me as an object lesson for their kids on how to fail at life.

I was in such shock that he would say that about me that I ran from my hiding place in the bathroom to the hallway where he could see me. My moppy blonde hair all tossled from sleep, my flannel jammies hanging limply on my frail little body, and tears pouring down my cheeks. And, there he sat in his chair, ironically, with a bowl of ice cream in his lap.

My Mom was horrified that I had heard it and held me as I sobbed in her arms. My Dad wouldn't look me in the eyes. He did apologize to me, but only because my Mom made him. And, really it was only an apology for being caught. It was an apology that I was so sensitive and emotional. He never took blame for anything he did. If and when he did apologize it was only to highlight how weak I was. He would tell me that I needed to toughen up and not get so hurt when he treated me like that. In the end, the blame fell to my shoulders. And, so he said "sorry" that night but he didn't reassure me or tell me that he was wrong and that I was beautiful and healthy the way that I was. And, I went to bed that night feeling fat and ugly and worthless.

I hate that this feeling still lingers over ten years later. I wish that I wasn't affected by it, but I was and am. The next morning I lingered in front of the mirror. Before then I was just a little girl who would brush her teeth and hair as quickly as she could in the morning so she could off and play with sisters in the back yard. But, on this morning I stood and stared at myself and turned and stared some more. And all I saw where imperfections and flaws.

Here is a picture of me taken around the time that this
 story happened. As you can see, I was anything but fat.
 Looking back, I don't even understand how
 he could have said or thought that about me.

1 comment:

  1. I have a friend with a similar story. Her mom would say --- I think you have had enough to eat---you don't want to end up like "Martha". As we talked --- I asked "who was Martha?" She said, "Just some fat girl who lived downn the street". I said,"So you don't know anything else about her--whether she was smart or nice or funny or creative.....?" "Nope, just that she was fat and I didn't want to be her. Wow! She had like no value other than her size???" It was a big realization to her that she had been carrying that message with her.

    It is amazing to think the messages we hear when we are kids can so influence us as adults. The trick is, changing the message before you pass them on to your own kids---sometimes without realizing it.

    My friend found it impossible to believe that when I look at her I don't see her size---I see HER---I don't see her body, or her hips or anything but a beautiful friend.