The Wednesday Weigh-In: Our bodies, our minds

It’s time for the third weekly Wednesday Weigh-In! As you may know by now, the Wednesday Weigh-In is an open thread where you can “weigh in” on a topic of the day.

For the first installment of the Wednesday Weigh-In, we discussed sex and honesty.

Next, we took on feminism and feelings.

This week, we’re taking on the business of bodies. Your bodies, to be more specific. This week’s question for discussion is:

How do you feel about your body, and what factors contribute to these feelings?

This question was inspired by the news that one in six women say they would rather be blind than obese. Although the f-word blog has an important discussion of the ableist connotations of such framing, they also point out that it suggests some very distressing things about women’s attitudes to fatness and weight gain.

I’d also be interested in your gender identification, if you’d like to share that in the comments section as well, and how you feel that does or does not affect your response. Also, do you feel that feminism has any affect on your body image, either positively or negatively, and do you feel that your opinion of your own body lines up with other people’s impressions and opinions of you?

So, what are you waiting for? Get to weighing in!

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is Executive Director of Partnerships at Feministing, where she enjoys creating and curating content on gender, race, class, technology, and the media. Lori is also an advocacy and communications professional specializing in sexual and reproductive rights and health, and currently works in the Global Division of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. A graduate of Harvard University, she lives in Brooklyn.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

Read more about Lori

Join the Conversation

  • Sarah

    I am rather attached to my body and am very fond of it. It is a very important intrinsic part of me!

    Factors that contribute to those feelings – I would have a very difficult time doing things without my body. There are lots of fun things I can do, from playing video games, working out PL/I code, trying to figure out which oatmeal flavor is best, attempting to solve the inverse Galois problem, and participating in online discussions like this one! That is by no means an exhaustive list either.

  • Rachel

    The way I feel about my body has always been very complicated, but has much improved over the years, in large part thanks to feminism. I struggled with weight from a very young age. My parents had the difficult job of encouraging me to be healthy without damaging my self esteem; they didn’t 100% succeed , though I can’t hold it against them considering how difficult a task that is in our society, and how their own socialization effected their perception of weight and health.

    I was dangerously overweight and extremely high-risk for type-2 diabetes until around my second year of college, I finally started to exercise regularly, and really changed my eating habits. It never would have worked if I ‘dieted’ or did exercise I hated; I decided I wanted to feel good in my body and had to figure out what my body really wanted to eat and do to feel good.

    I lost about 70 pounds in a year and got to a point where I was quite thin, probably underweight. I’ve gained some weight back since then, though I still exercise regularly and eat healthy. My current struggle is with truly feeling good about my body even though I will never be a skinny person. When I was quite thin it wasn’t because I was healthy; I was working two full-time jobs, working out for two hours then going home and drinking. But I still see pictures of myself then and hate my body how it is even though it’s healthier.

    It’s a long road to positive body image, but feminism has been incredibly helpful. It’s helped me identify all the bullshit I’ve internalized about my body and started me on the road to reject it. It’s made me realize that almost ALL women share this struggle, no matter what their bodies actually look like.

  • Rachel

    I’ll just start by saying that I identify as female. I was born as a biological woman and I’m pretty happy with that arangement.

    How I view my body changes a lot from day to day. Sometimes I feel fat and have a decent amount of self hate. More often I feel pretty good about my body. Occasianlly I feel amazing about myself and the miracle that my body really is.

    I have to admit, I’ve spend the first half of this year kind of stuck in the self-hate catefory. I have a family reunion coming up next month and I haven’t seen my family in 3-4 years. In that time all of my female cousins that are my age or older have given birth at least once, however they are all still more thin than me (based on our discussions about pant sizes, etc.) I’m finally starting to calm down and realize that my body is my heritage. Yes, I share a heritage with my cousins, but I also have a different heritage from them. I should be celebrating in my body, it’s a miracle!

    Now I’m swaying between the “my body is amazing!” and “my body is okay” categories.

  • Amanda

    My feelings about my body are a strange (and probably somewhat common) blend of feminism and self-consciousness. In theory, I agree with the idea that everyone’s body is fine the way it is; that I should embrace my flaws; that I decide whether or not my body is acceptable, and that’s no one else’s decision. In theory I love the idea of embracing my body and wearing whatever I want, without caring what others think. But theory and practice are two very different things for me in this case.
    I’m very thin, but I’ve never thought of myself as attractive. My body doesn’t fit society’s standards for a female physique. I’m thin, but I have a figure that magazines describe as “boyish.” I don’t have any womanly curves. My breasts are barely there.
    None of this bothers me, when I’m sitting at home thinking about it. I am the way I am, and I’m fine with that. And of course I have plenty of things to be grateful for, such as my health and the fact that my body allows me to run, play with my dog, read books, listen to music and so forth.
    But I’ve always been incredibly opposed to wearing clothing that “shows off” my body in any way. As a kid, I think this feeling came from my father’s Baptist convictions which were forced upon me. He constantly drilled the idea into my head that women shouldn’t “tempt” men by showing their bodies, and that women who wear short shorts or bikinis are sluts.
    I completely oppose all of these ideas now, of course- but I still shy away from wearing things that are normal to most women. I don’t dress like I’m Amish, but I don’t like wearing shorts or short skirts, I don’t show any kind of cleavage (although I don’t really have any) and I hate wearing a bathing suit in front of other people. I get really anxious whenever I’m wearing anything revealing. I’m not sure if this is due to my upbringing or something else, but I’d really like to put it behind me!

    • Kaitlyn

      I think women should wear whatever we want, but I, too, tend to dress pretty conservatively (maybe also because of Christian parents). But don’t forget that in advocating that women wear what we want, we should wear what we want. I don’t feel comfortable or want to wear short skirts, so I don’t. I like being casual, I like not worrying about my boobs falling out of a shirt or my butt showing, and I also like knowing that people aren’t looking at me in ways that make me uncomfortable. Dress how you like! Maybe you should challenge yourself to wear new things or maybe you should forget feeling like you should feel good in clothes that make you anxious.

  • Katelyn

    My body is female-sexed, and it has never belonged to me. I cannot claim to be cisgendered or transgendered, because I have never claimed a gender. But I DO know that my body had never felt like it was my own property, which means that I have a love/hate relationship with it. I learned when I was 8 years old that my body did not belong to me when my (female) school principal told me that I had to start wearing a bra to avoid being a distraction. It placed shame on me before I even understood the concept, and so I learned that my body meant something different to other people than it did to me. I quickly learned that what my body meant to other people was much more important than what it meant to me, and this idea has become so ingrained to me that my sense of self-worth is so tied to this body that doesn’t even feel like mine.

  • Ali

    I am a woman who has always felt anywhere from “pretty good” to “super excited!” about my body. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one, though.

    I think growing up doing martial arts my whole life gave me a different perspective. I feel connected to my body and I don’t see it as separate from my mind and spirit. I think of my body mainly in terms of what it can do, more than what it looks like. When I think of what it looks like, I have always wanted more muscle rather than less fat. Then again, I’ve never struggled with excess body fat.

    As a fitness professional, I do see that when people are significantly overweight it can place limitations on what they can do, but that they often feel daunted at the thought of starting an exercise program because of those limitations which leads to a vicious cycle. I really encourage everyone to find exercise that they enjoy: dance, martial arts, tennis, soccer, bicycling, rock climbing, etc. not to make their bodies look a certain way, but to feel strong, healthy and excited about what your body can do. Exercise is also the best stress reliever and really helps with mental focus and clarity as well! Do it for the right reasons and it will bring you confidence and joy!

    • honeybee

      Not the only one!

      I feel pretty good for the most part about mine. There are odd moments of despair but thats true for anyone of any gender/age/race/etc. For the most part I feel great and very lucky. I’m healthy and can pretty do whatever anyone else can do, and when I want to I can look killer in a dress.

      Funny though I feel so shy to ever admit that I feel good about my body because so many women don’t. I feel like if I say that I’m ok with mine they will hate me for it. I hope that’s not true.

  • Gabe

    Being trans makes my relationship to my body somewhat complex (though I’m sure that’s not true of all trans people). Before I transitioned I used to feel somewhat alienated from it—that is, surprised when I saw most parts of it, even the ones that aren’t typically sexed. I had an extremely fraught relationship with menstruation and with rituals like leg-shaving. I was very anxious about both, even though I don’t find them (especially shaving) inherently weird; it was more like I was doing this thing I wasn’t supposed to be doing. It was a catch-22 because I wouldn’t have wanted to not shave them while presenting as female—and if I identified as female I would have been happy to do it; shaved legs are comfy and smooth. It was only when I transitioned that I could be comfortable about not doing it.

    I do not use the terms “bio man” or “bio woman.” I and many others find them transphobic. I am a man and a biological creature; hence I am a bio man, though I was assigned female at birth, and so on. The concept of “biological” manhood/womanhood implies that there is something about, for example, having a penis that makes someone a man. I reject that idea because it creates a hierarchy of manhood that puts cis men above trans men, and of womanhood that puts cis women above trans women. In truth there is just a strong correlation between manhood/womanhood and certain anatomical structures.

    Alternate terms include cis (cisgender) man/woman for non-trans men and women, or AFAB/AMAB (assigned female/male at birth) for all people whose anatomy was initially described as female/male.

  • Natalie

    Well, first off, I identify as female. I was born female and I love it (Being a woman feels more…creative, especially when it comes to expressing feelings through art, but that’s another discussion…)
    Some days, I love my body. Some days, I look in the mirror and say “Damn, girl! Look at you! Who wouldn’t love *that?!*” On these days, I usually dress up a little, and have a little more strut in my step. People notice. I get more flirty attention from girls and boys, which only fuels my good feelings. On these days, I don’t feel vain, per se; I don’t feel any more attractive than anyone else around me, but I feel good, and it shows. However, some of the attention I receive is…less-than-confidence-boosting. On one particular day, while sitting with my guy friends under a tree, some coward pervert called from a second story window, (shades drawn, I might add..) “Let me touch your big fuckin’ knockers!” I saw red and stood up, shouting back, “Yeah, come try to touch them, see what happens!” It effectively ruined my day and I felt ashamed of the body that only moments before I’d been so proud of.
    On other days, I look at myself a feel disgusted. I wince when I look in a mirror. I see fat, fat, fat, fat, ugly, ugly, ugly. I tend to dress down, sweatpants and a t-shirt…I don’t make much eye contact, I’m mostly quiet. People don’t pay me much attention, and I’m glad for it. I don’t feel worthwhile, which I know isn’t good, because my self-esteem shouldn’t be wrapped up so tightly with my body image, but it is.
    Today, I’m not thinking too much about how my body looks. I’m spending the day relaxing at home, and nobody’s going to see me. Usually, I feel pretty good about myself, but it’s a day-to-day thing.

  • Rebecca

    Today, I feel pretty good about my body. That certainly wasn’t the case a few months ago during the winter, though. At that time I felt a lot like a blob, a result of eating whatever and not working out rather than my actual weight.

    I’ve never had major body image issues, though I haven’t been able to avoid some subconscious “smaller is better” urges. I try to focus on how fit and healthy I feel rather than how I look or what I weigh. I went vegan in January and have since started biking to work some days of the week. Both of those activities combined have made a huge difference in how I feel about my body. Even though the weight on the scale is essentially the same, I feel lighter from eating better and doing some workouts.

    Shopping trips, however, are still hit or miss. I blame that mainly to sizing issues between clothing brands. Try on 2 different brands of jeans in the same size, and one is sure to be much smaller. Going up a size, regardless of the numbers, doesn’t ever feel good.

  • sex-toy-james

    I’m a fairly standardized straight white guy with a wide build. According to the BMI calculators, I’m obese by about 10 pounds or so. Honestly, I’d like to drop down to overweight, and I’ve identified some gut fat that I’d rather not have, but I wouldn’t want to compromise anything useful, and if I had my way I’d lose that gut-fat and stay BMI obese. I’m also doing regular ab workouts and slowly carving some faint lines in my stomach. Frankly, I feel pretty awesome about my body and wouldn’t trade it for the physique that they design clothes for, even though I do find clothes shopping to be frustrating at times.
    I’ve always aspired to hugeness and burliness, but I have gleaned some insights from the feminist universe. I found that article about everything that goes into perfect ab shoots to be illuminating, and it actually changed my expectations about what is achievable.
    In terms of feeling like my body type fits in though, I credit the bears. They carved out a standard of beauty for big fuzzy guys. I really appreciate that. It does seem harder to find women into straight bears, but I found the perfect one, so I’m good. Just by the numbers, there should be more women who like big hairy guys than gay men, so I wonder why it is that those gay men have had so much stronger of a voice?

  • Sarah B.

    I wish I could stop thinking about my body. Nothing makes me happier than when I can lose myself in a task and stop thinking about myself at all!

    After having my pituitary gland removed due to a tumor I now rely on several drugs/hormones for survival and general quality of life. If I don’t take my daily (and extremely expensive) growth hormone injections I slowly lose muscle mass to fat and no amount of eating/not eating exercising/not exercising will have any effect. Not to mention loss of bone mass, energy, and mental well-being. And then there are the thyroid medication and the corticosteroids that my life depends on.

    It is very frightening and frustrating to have to rely on “drugs” for survival. But I am so thankful that I am able to get those drugs! I am amazed at the resilience, but also the fragility and complexity, of my (and everyone’s) body.

    • Emily

      Hey I have pituitary dwarfism! I hear you on the expensive growth hormone shots. My doctor took me off of them when I was 14 because I was “tall enough,” and a few months later I was suffering from clinical depression and had a stress fracture. So I know it can be really rough when it feels like your body is betraying you. I still have troubles with growth hormone deficiency, because the struggle to maintain bone and muscle mass and the constant injuries make it hard to do things I love to do. But I can’t imagine having my life depend on those shots. I bet you are so tough.

      • Sarah B.

        Wow, it’s nice to hear from another adult who has real experience with HGH! I’ve tried googling it, but the results are usually for the “fake” stuff that people use for cosmetic/anti-aging purposes or the HGH that is abused by athletes purportedly. I was growth hormone deficient for over a year because I couldn’t afford to take the entire dose or sometimes I would just go without. I had never broken a bone in my life (I’m 36) and I broke two toes this winter! I just started taking my prescribed dosage less than a month ago and I already feel better, mentally and physically. I didn’t even realize how dark my state of mind was (or how low my energy level was). I hope that you are able to get the growth hormone that you need too.

  • Kelly

    It’s been a struggle for me this year to try to reclaim my body. I just turned 22 years old and I’m a lesbian. I was severely physically and emotionally abused by my family, was sexually abused by an Uncle as a child, and stalked, beaten, and sexually assaulted from the time I was 14 to 16 by an older male from my high school. Despite all of this I became a really strong advocate for feminism and queer rights, and began dedicating my life entirely to movements that are greater than myself, and yet are based upon building strength in the self- and in that way- society. I don’t know that I can prevent attacks from happening to women and children (or anyone for that matter), but I can be there for them, hope with them, lend them my strength, and aid them in their struggles as fellow survivors. I spent two years in AmeriCorps as a part of the National Service movement before applying to college (I’ve just finished my first year in higher education) but in my second year, while being an educator at an inner-city school- I was raped by two men. One was a teammate, the other was simply a fellow corps member. This was a year and a half ago, I tried to tell my roommates and talk to some other corps members about it-but people refused to listen- they refused to believe that these guys “intentionally” did that to me. I continued my service and fell in-love with teaching and working on behalf of children- but I never reported the crime because I didn’t know how to advocate for myself and the only people I tried to tell wouldn’t let me and it seemed wouldn’t be willing to believe me. I suffer severe disassociation from my body at times, and I am constantly trying to battle the feeling that I was meant to be used- I was meant to be the object of other’s anger, lust, aggression- that I am nothing more than a plaything. I have a wonderful girlfriend who thinks I am beautiful, and every now and then I can see that my body is pretty- but I still don’t know that it belongs to me or and it scares me that I cannot control how others see it or what they want to do to it. I have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but I’ve been going to women’s only group therapy, dedicated to survivors of sexual abuse, and it has been helping tremendously to confront my experiences and see these other girls who are beautiful in so many different ways, who have been made to feel disgusting, or like objects, and often both. We’ve been connecting and I have been getting more hopeful, and maybe one day my body and I can be one-but at this time, it still feels like a shadow on my life.

  • LonieMc.

    I’m a cis-gendered female. I was on the fat side, and I hated my body for many years. In fact, that belief that my body made me unlovable led me to stay in abusive relationships for many years.

    I found Fat Acceptance about 6 years ago. I now practice HAES and body acceptance in all forms. I ended up writing a dissertation on fat prejudice. Through all my studies, I have come to accept and appreciate my body most days. It is still a struggle to fight the constant message that I am less than because my body is bigger than normal. However, through Fat Acceptance, I have learned to love myself.

  • dark_morgaine_le_fey

    As a kid, I was very tall and thin, and people often commented on it. I felt good because I knew I was pretty, that I looked like I was “supposed to.” However, in middle school I started to have issues with my body that have continued until the present day. Our school was going to have a party at the local water park (which was eventually canceled because of the rain) and I had bought a bikini for the occasion. Only, when I tried it on, I realized I didn’t have a perfectly flat stomach, I didn’t look like girls on TV wearing bikinis. I freaked out, ever since, I’ve been doing everything I can to hide my body, or to try to appear as skinny as I can. Whenever I’m sitting down I try to sit up straight so my stomach will look flatter. I’m never not thinking about it, it’s always at the back of my mind.

    When I’m just out and about, though, I usually have no compunctions about my appearance; it’s only when I can see myself that I really stress out. Generally, when I look in the mirror, I think I look all right, but then when I see a picture, I am appalled at how I look, partially because I feel like I look like a blimp, and also because my face always has such a silly expression. I have never mastered smiling on cue, and in middle school and high school I refused to smile in pictures because I thought it looked stupid, no matter how much it upset my family to have me just glaring into the camera. I fought them on that issue, because it seemed that they were trying to rewrite history by making me smile so that years later they could hold up the picture and say, “See, you’re smiling, you can’t hate camping and baseball games that much.”

    I’ve also struggled with my voice for years. Ever since (yet again in middle school) a boy told me I had a voice like a man, I’ve hated hearing my voice. I was painfully aware of this when I used to be in church choir, and realized I didn’t have the vocal range of most of the sopranos, who after all get to sing the main women’s parts. I forced myself to sing soprano even though I’m really an alto. My mom is a tenor, and though her voice is lovely, I’ve been terrified mine would deepen to that range someday. Well, I hate hearing it on recording, I like how it sounds to me when I’m talking.

    So, I like what I look and sound like in my head; not so much in the physical world.

  • Steven Olson

    I identify as male and have had an interesting relationship with my body over my life. As a teenager I was tall and thin, so I felt the pressure that men often feel, which is to bulk up. So, I worked out a lot, and the combination of physically maturing combined with weight training for years let to a body (at the end of high school) I was pretty happy with. Broad shoulders, defined abs, arms, etc… And as a high school student I was very active, playing numerous sports. I always had a very broad frame (I remember when I was 16 and about 140lbs at 6’0” someone told me that I was going to be big and muscular when I was older, because I had large wrists I did not believe it).

    So at high school, after 4 years of working out I was finally happy with my body (not because I was actually happy with it, but because it fit in with what society said a man’s body should look like) and I started university. Well, going from being an athlete and exercising every day to doing school work every day and rarely exercising, while still eating as terribly, did a number on my body. I put on the freshman 15 before Christmas and had put on 25-30lbs by the end of that year. I wasn’t happy with that, but didn’t have the time and motivation to change it through exercise, or the motivation to change my diet. At my heaviest, a little while into grad school I was 60lbs heavier than when I graduated high school and didn’t like my body because I thought it was to large.

    I eventually decided to do something about it and started exercising and modifying how I ate. I have gotten to a point where I am content with my body. I have lost about 25-30lbs from my heaviest and am now a comfortable 6’0” 210lbs, which puts me, according to BMI, almost obese. But how my body looks isn’t to bad. I have a bit of fat around my gut, but nothing that I really worry about. If I had the same mind set as when I was 18 I would want to lose about 15-20lbs more, but I don’t really care at this point. I am still active and enjoy playing sports recreationally (I wouldn’t mind having better performance, and now my work out motivation is for functionality, not aesthetics) and I still enjoy food, though I try to eat less pizza and chips and more veggies.

    My body journey has been an interesting one, as I have had several years in both the “too thin” and “too fat” side of the spectrum. Now I am content, even though my body isn’t anywhere near what society says my masculine body should look like. Fortunately, the pressure on men isn’t nearly as strong for men to fit into the perfect body box as it is for women. Its been nice to get to this point. Coincidentally, I started identifying as a feminist at around the same time that I stopped feeling so negative about my body.

  • Ducky

    I’m a cisgender female, and I have always been in a battle with my body. I have linked happiness with thinness, even though I know it is a facade. I know I flirt with anorexia, and while that scares me, I can’t stop my thin obsession. I’m defined as underweight and people continuously tell me how small I am. But when I look in the mirror, I see fat. I am scared by how happy I get when I get on the scale and see pounds shed. I think the concept of how thinness = beauty is so strong, it’s impossible for me to escape.

    I strongly identify as a feminist, and my body issues have always made me confused with my feminist identity. In my opinion, feminism works to dismantle the concept of conventional beauty. Does that make me a fake/hypocritical/just plain bad feminist since I’m work to conform to that concept? Part of me thinks I’m just living proof of how damaging the concept is, and that empowers me and “legitimatizes” my feminism. Part of me feels hypocritical because my conforming makes me part of the problem, therefore I’m working against feminism.

    Patriarchal notions have driven a lot of my self esteem problems. How I “need” to be in a relationship, and how I will never get a guy unless I’m thin and pretty. Also how I have to remain looking a certain way to legitimize my relationship – that my looks make me worthy enough for my boyfriend to stay. It sounds stupid, but our society is so superficial. All I think about is how my male friends are willing to stick it out with their “hot” girlfriend even though she’s awful, just because she’s gorgeous. When I think about it, do I want to be a trophy girlfriend, whose boyfriend is only staying because I’m a hot bang? No, but I have been conditioned to fall into that trap, and that it’s at least better to be in a relationship than not.

    I sometimes think maybe if I was more thin, my ex wouldn’t have left me. Or if I was “hotter” so and so would have wanted to pursue a relationship with me. A lot of my issues are just personal and come from my parents making snarky comments about carbs, but in the end it stems from the pressure to be thin.

    It’s sad how I have lost control over my body and desire becoming essentially objectified. As I continue to strengthen my knowledge of feminism, I hope it will help me finally regain ownership and be content with my weight, to isolate myself from the insecurities that society has put upon so many. In the end I know my anorexia has been caused by constructs that feminism works to disengage, which makes feminism that much more important to me.

  • Ariel

    I like my body. I’m underweight and would like to change that. But other then that unhealthiness, I love my body. Mostly because of the song “Everybodys Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” It has a line that says ‘Dance. Use your body, every way you can. don’t be afraid of it or what other people think of it. It is the greatest intrament you will ever own.’ I took that to heart at a young age and have enjoyed my body since. =) Music influances me greatly. And most of the time I’m happy about that.

  • Christine

    I decided about 15 years ago that I this is the body I have (I look like the women in my family, tall, short waist, weight in my stomach) and I have 2 options, feel miserable or accept myself. I chose the latter. I just don’t want to waste my energy on hating and trying to change my body. I try to be healthy, I’m a vegetarian, I belong to a gym and actually go:)

    We are all beautiful in our own way. My aunt was always on a diet…I never knew a time when she wasn’t. She died at 78 of bone cancer. What was the point of denying herself pleasure and feeling crappy about herself all of her life? I don’t want to live my life that way.

    I am a college professor and my female students are obsessed with body image and spend alot of time and energy hating their bodies. It is so sad…here is this 47 year old fat woman (me) telling them that there is nothing wrong with them and nothing wrong with me. I hope some listen.

    My body is big and soft and strong and takes up space. I allow myself the pleasure of good food because I have a healthy appetite (for lots of things:) As I tell people who complain about how fat they are, “Would you rather lay on a bundle of sticks or a big soft pillow.” Damn right.

  • Crystal

    I’m a cis-gendered female, and I feel very fortunate to love my body. It’s not perfect, but I’m happy with it overall. And when I feel happy and confident about my body, I think that radiates. Confidence makes you beautiful. Of course, I’m only speaking of appearance. I have quite a few health problems that make me pretty miserable, but that’s another story.

    Sometimes I wonder if people think I’m a “bad feminist” because I’ve had plastic surgery. But the way I see it, my body is something that I can choose to alter however I want (so long as it’s reasonably safe) in order to feel good. My choice to have surgery was for ME, not for anyone else. I identified a feature that I didn’t like, so I changed it and now I’m even happier. Honestly, it made me feel pretty empowered.

    I just saw the previous Wednesday Weigh-In for the first time, and I wish I had found it while it was still open for discussion.

  • Lesa

    I guess first off, I was born a woman biologically and I definitely identify with being a woman. That being said, growing up as a woman is particularly hard in this field. Not to say that men don’t feel the same shame about their bodies as women do as far as physical attractiveness goes, but I felt ashamed of being a WOMEN – having a vagina, having small breasts, having a period, etc. This attitude, of course, affected the way I looked at the rest of my body growing up and I’ve struggled with eating disorders and depression because of it.

    Feminism changed the way I viewed myself. It really gave me a sense of purpose, of remembering that I was born this way for a reason and I deserve to be happy. I was not condemned to a life of hating myself! So. I am a woman. I have a period once a month, and yes, it makes my bathroom stink. I am very prone to gaining weight in my midsection, and I like the curves that come because of it. I have small breasts, but at least I can run without knocking myself in the face! Most importantly, I am Lesa and I can do whatever the hell I dream and being a woman doesn’t change that.

  • Phaedre

    I was born with female genitalia and I identify as female. I’m 33. I’ve had two partners, one of which was for a very short period of time and the other was for 4 years. I haven’t had a date or sex in over 5 years. I share this, because, for me, right or wrong, my feelings about my body is very tied up in my feelings of worthlessness re: men (the gender to which I am attracted). I am a size 20. For the majority of my adult life I’ve been able to pretty much just ignore how my body doesn’t fit standards and been relatively content with solitary sexuality. Lately I’ve been embracing myself more and seeing that perhaps not everyone sees me as plain and fat. Then I discovered I am developing a varicose vein on my right leg. It may sound trifling, but it has knocked me into a significant low. I’m really struggling lately with feeling hopeless – I had JUST started to come to terms with plain and fat and now I’m getting purply blue ropes on my leg. I’m getting to the point where I think if I could truly and whole heartedly drop the idea that I will someday find a partner, I could find peace with myself. Through my own eyes, I feel ok. But the moment I imagine myself through someone else’s eyes… Anyway… a sincere congrats to folks who are in a better place than me, I envy you :) I wish for us all peace and contentment.

    • Substantia Jones

      I’m a white, cisgendered, hetero woman. I love my body. It gives me pleasure and locomotion and its various systems function to keep me healthy, which helps to keep me happy. And I *am* happy. I’m also nearly 300 pounds.

      To answer the query presented, I’d say my opinion of my body certainly runs counter to what most might think of it. And yes, that body positivity is thanks in part to feminism, though sizeism can be found in any group, even among progressive thinkers.

      I grew up thin, wanting to be thinner, and spent years taking ill-advised health risks in my efforts to be Cher, circa ’77. I was burdened with body image issues which seem foreign to me now. I stopped gaining when I stopped dieting, so I’ve lived with these 300 pounds for over a decade. Today, as a fat woman who’s far wiser, I no longer fight my body, but am in full partnership with it. My body goals now involve pleasure, wellbeing, adornment, and self-expression. Not combat. I’m no more “real” than a thin woman, but I do enjoy being who I am, and being fat is a significant part of that. I use my body for art and activism. When I bounce down the street in a bare halter dress, I’m a walking fucking billboard for self-love. I thank my fat body for being able to do that.

      • Sabrah

        @Substantia Jones “I use my body for art and activism. When I bounce down the street in a bare halter dress, I’m a walking fucking billboard for self-love. I thank my fat body for being able to do that.”

        This statement had a profound effect on me. Thank you for your honestly and beauty.

  • Mary

    I am a cis-gendered hetero female. I have to admit that I really struggle with accepting my body. Factors I consider to have had a part in this struggle are abuse and growing up with a mother who was anorexic/bulimic. I was taught from a very young age to feel shame and hatred for my body. HOWEVER, feminism has helped me tremendously in regards to body image and acceptance. I have come a long way and am successfully navigating life with an eating disorder — something that took me a long time to ‘overcome’, which I say loosely because I feel that it will always be something I have. While exploring feminism, I have had so many revelations about my own value and throwing cultural norms out the window.

  • Ellie

    I realize I’m arriving a little late, but this is a topic I’ve wasted a zillion hours thinking about. Mostly I feel worried about my body. It looks “attractive” now, but one day no one will be attracted to me anymore. People in my family live into their 90s. My best friend always goes on and on about sunscreen, how the sun is the number one cause of aging, and I tell her that time is the number one cause of aging. But really, I’m not secure about that. I wear sunscreen every day. I reapply constantly. I tell myself it’s just a precaution. But if it were a magic lotion that made me never age, I would slather it on in buckets.

    I don’t want to get pregnant because I would get fat. I don’t want stretch marks. I don’t want my skin to stretch. I don’t want the undereye bags that I would get from having to tend to a baby at night. I don’t want my vagina to tear. And I know it’s all so stupid, because maybe I would really like having children. I like kids. But my boyfriend makes all these jokes about hot/not hot women, and I know if he didn’t find me attractive he would stop making those jokes, but everyone else would still make them and everywhere I looked I would hear it. I’d like to just die so I would never worry about these things.

    My mother doesn’t seem to worry about these things. My grandmothers don’t worry. I wonder if it’s because there’s more to them than appearance. My mother wins all kinds of awards at her job. My grandmothers are useful people. Maybe only useless people worry about how they look to the degree that I do.

    But then I wonder about the annoying things my mother does, and I wonder if she does them because when she was young and beautiful, they were attractive things. She asks dumb questions, she acts squeamish. In a 20something, that would be attractive to some men. In a 60-year-old, it’s irritating.

    I’m sure I sound stupid. I’m not stupid, which makes it so much worse. A smart person should have better things to worry about.

  • chelsa

    Honestly looking back at my relationship with my body, it never mattered what size I was, I’ve always had a pretty negative relationship with it.

    When I was young, I always had a little pot belly. Even when I was 70 lbs and a size zero. It never bothered me until people started pointing it out.

    I developed late, so when I was flat chested and had no hips at 14, I felt less female and didn’t like my body. Though, I didn’t really notice until people started pointing it out.

    When I finally did hit puberty, my boobs and curves came on hard and fast. I had to re-learn how to dress myself. Boys started paying me attention, but not in a positive way. I didn’t realize my boobs were large for my frame until people started pointing it out.

    When I got my first boyfriend and I was 120lbs or so (and 5’3′), I was pretty happy with my body… until he started suggesting I take up jogging to make my pot belly go away. Yeah, that one I had even at 70 lbs. I didn’t think it was a big deal until he told me he noticed it the first day we met.

    When I was bartending, I had a great relationship with my body. I hovered around 130lbs. I wasn’t model thin, but was happy with the way I looked. I got lots of attention… sometimes negative, but mostly positive. No one ever mentioned that I should join a gym, or do something about my pot belly. It was a lovely 5 years.

    Then since I started my office job, I put on 25lbs. My clothes didn’t fit. I felt gross looking at myself in the mirror. Sometimes my current boyfriend was really blunt about the weight gain (and my be projecting some of his insecurities on me). I had an (ex) friend tell me I’m a bitch now that I’ve gotten fat. It was enough that I wouldn’t want to go out with friends because I didn’t want them to see how gross I looked.

    So in October of last year I started running. I was sadly out of shape. I could run maybe 90 seconds before I needed to walk for a while and catch my breath. I did it because I couldn’t stand looking at myself. It’s been a rough year.

    Now, I am up to putting in 15-20K a week (not all running, but it’s a huge improvement!). I’ve lost 10lbs, and am still BMI overweight. But man… I feel good. I have more energy. I’m proud of the change between running a minute and stopping, to doing walk/run intervals for an hour at a time! My body is not ideal, but I’ve stopped hating myself. I’ve stopped letting people who say they are my friends comment about how I look. The numbers have become way less important than my 5K time is now.

    I mean, I still struggle. Some days I look in the mirror and see my body shape starting to change. I am starting to feel a lot more powerful. But still, some days I am bummed after all this work I still can’t fit into my skinny jeans and all the pretty dresses I bought last summer.

    But I’ll tell you what, the days where I feel good about my body are happening more often, and the days I feel bad about my body are happening less often. And I think a big part of that is cutting off the sources of negative feedback I was getting, and surrounding myself with the positive messages.

    Of course the other part is that I like how my running tights look. I’m not a runner yet, but I’m working on it… and I like where it’s taking me, even though it wasn’t my objective at the beginning.