How I learned to stop worrying and love my body

A lot of people have found my blog by searching for Emma Woolf. She is not me. I googled her, and apparently she is an anorexia survivor. I’m looking down my my chubby body, and I am most definitely a not survivor of anorexia.

Yeah, I think I’m fat. I just stopped caring. I’m heavy. I’m not fat and proud, but this is who I am. As long as I am healthy, I love my body. I know not everyone feels the same way about their bodies, so I wanted to write down a few things that led to my acceptance of my own weight in the hopes that maybe, if I ever feel self-loathing, I can come back to this post. Or maybe, if someone is less at peace with her body, this can help her.

Know that every body is a good body

My roommate freshman year of college was a nutrition major. She hate healthy most of the time and encouraged me to steal food from the dining hall because, duh, we are supposed to have small meals throughout the day. Which meant that she also had to steal plates and flatware from the dining hall because she had to have something to eat her small meals on.

As a part of a club she was in, she placed flyers on every table in the dining hall about body acceptance.The flyers gave tips on eating healthy and exercise, but if I recall correctly, the message behind the flyers were that as long as you were healthy, you had a good body. And it resonated with me as I looked at my friends ten sizes smaller than me. I was just as healthy as them.

Play a full contact sport

This idea of every body being a good body was enforced by rugby. In addition to just loving beating people up, I loved that in this sport, every body type is needed. I needs little people to run fast or to be thrown up in the air. It needs big people (me) to hit the little people and throw them up in the air. It needs medium people to pass the ball to in case you are a little person being chased by a big person in the hopes that the medium person will either be able to take a hit or outrun the big people. Playing rugby as a defensive player taught me that my body was just as good and useful as those of the offense.

Understand that no one is 100% happy with her body

In college I met a tall gorgeous student who was outgoing and smart and probably made everyone jealous just to look at her. And I remember one day hearing her bitch about her body. But before you roll your eyes at “oh, I hate skinny people who bitch about being fat,” know that she didn’t. She felt out of place in her family because they were so much shorter than her. She felt like she stuck out in every picture as the giant. She was frustrated that when people bought her clothes, they all thought, oh, she’s thin, so they got her size extra small that had sleeves that came only to her elbows.

Another time, I was upset about something, and a friend of mine took my arm and started rubbing it consolingly. She stopped suddenly and asked if I shaved today. I could not understand why she was asking me if I shaved my legs. It had nothing to do with anything. She explained “because your arms are so smooth.”

Until that moment, I had no idea that people shaved their arms. I told her I didn’t, and she looked at me with disgust. How could my arms be so hairless? She asked me if, when I looked at her, I was disgusted by her hairy arms. It was the most ridiculous thing I could have imagined. I had no idea someone could be that concerned about their arm hair.

Anyway, so that’s my wisdom about acceptance just the way you are. You can always try to be thinner, prettier, more perfect, or whatever. But I think that until you can be happy with who you are as you are, you won’t be happy even if you reach those elusive goals.

About emmawolf

I'm a freelance writer living in Baltimore with my husband, son, and two cats. I'm working on editing my first novel. I love reading, traveling, and the cello.
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7 Responses to How I learned to stop worrying and love my body

  1. I remember, when I was in college, I decided I was going to wear only 3/4-length or long sleeves because of my arm hair. It is, by the way, completely normal arm hair and always has been. But I’m Lebanese and have dark hair, and it just occurred to me — surrounded, as I was, by midwestern blondes — that my arm hair must have made me look like a gorilla. Know what it’s like to go through the Houston summer in nothing but long sleeves? Let’s just say I was glad to be living in the most air-conditioned city in the world.

    A little while later I woke up and realized I was being ridiculous for worrying about such a thing, but it was only after enough people sort of laughed at me for it. Not everyone manages to get over such irrational body image problems, and I’m always happy to hear or read about someone who loves her body, “regardless.” More power to you. πŸ™‚

    • emmawolf says:

      I would imagine that for most people, the thing that makes us the most self-conscious about our appearances are the things that other people don’t even notice.

      I’ve been through a Houston summer or two. I’m sorry you had to get through them in long sleeves and am glad that now you’re happy enough to not give yourself heat stroke.

  2. I think acceptance comes with age – which I wish I’d known as an insecure teenager/young adult. Now I have things I don’t like, but they don’t bother me as much, because I have the wisdom to understand that meh, everyone’s dealing with something they hate.

    I like being a wise older person. It’s my new favorite.

    • emmawolf says:

      *nods* I think for me it is a partly a matter of age and learning to focus more on things that do matter. But unfortunately, I know someone older than me who is still so obsessed with her appearance (and who knows exactly how to make me feel bad about mine).

  3. Kaoru Negisa says:

    It took me a very long time to accept my body. While I realize there are things I would like to improve, and I certainly have relapses where I hate how I look, but for the most part I accept who I am. That being said, playing a sport does help. When I fence on a regular basis I feel better about my body because I see that even being overweight, I can be graceful and move freely. I see what my body is capable of, and that reminds me of how awesome it is.

    • emmawolf says:

      “I see that even being overweight, I can be graceful and move freely. I see what my body is capable of, and that reminds me of how awesome it is.”

      Well said.

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