Body self confidence


I’ve never had it.

Never being a strong word.

I remember being a child in New Jersey (age 5 to 12) and playing outside a lot. My dad would whistle us in for dinner.  I got a light blue ten speed for my 10th or 11th birthday and loved it. Rode it to school, to friends, to the store for Bazooka gum, and just for the Hell of it.

I also used to pretend I was a horse from the waist up, and a human from the waist down. My friends and I would hold “horseshows” and we’d jump over obstacles set up on our lawns and judge each other.

Yet I also remember being the last to be chosen for PE…Being hit with a ball when pitching in PE…Not being good at the 50 or 100 yard dashes because by 12 I was all legs and it took me awhile to get them out from under me.

I dimly remember ballet (an aqua leotard and white tutu) but didn’t get far.  I remember being TERRIFIED of gymnastics: always afraid I’d get hurt. My best friend had a trampoline in her yard and I was very cautious on it.  Our last year of living in that house, my dad had a vinyl bottomed in ground pool put in. I LOVED swimming. Didn’t scare me at all that I remember. I’d put on his much too big fins and cruise around the pool like a surfaced dolphin.  And horses: I loved to ride, but my instructors were frustrated by the fact that I always looked DOWN — at where I assumed I would fall.  At 9 I was already afraid I would get hurt.

We moved to Texas when I was 12, soon to be 13 and it was a huge culture shock.  I was a tomboy. Here all the girls wore make up (blue eyeshadow) and had feathered hair (thanks Farrah!) and my stick straight hair and green eyes meant I looked ridiculous in both.  I didn’t fit in. I never would. So I gave up and got fat.

Two years later we moved to a small town in Virginia.  A. Very. Small. Town.  My graduating class was 176 people.  Here I was fat. I did nothing athletic. I got fatter. My perception of myself was the fat introvert who wrote passionate poetry about a life I hated and who wanted to be beautiful for Just. One. Day.  I discovered Drama, where I could be someone else. It was a relief. There were no boyfriends. My grades were meh.

College: I lost some weight.  Met a boy. Lost more weight. Started perming my stick straight hair. Got a 3.5 GPA. Got jobs. Constantly compared myself to others. Had a ton of therapy (most if it spent weeping).

Leap to the age of 50.

  • I still wish I were stunning
  • I have severe body hatred despite the fact that I gave birth to two very large babies and my body didn’t let me down til 2009 when my gallbladder failed.
  • I no longer have a waist
  • I think I am fat (no one else sees this) because I’ve gained 15# in the last year due to back issues that won’t allow me to exercise.
  • I long to be physically comfortable with myself.  Can this be learned? I watch other adults play and wonder why I cannot do this with abandon. Why I care about HOW I LOOK WHEN I AM DOING SOMETHING?  I’m afraid I will look foolish so I avoid things.  Why do I care that others will think I am a klutz? Who cares?

Then I found this:

“The spotlight effect is an extension of several psychological phenomena. Among these is the phenomenon known as anchoring and adjustment, which suggests that individuals will use their own internal feelings of anxiety and the accompanying self-representation as an anchor, then insufficiently correct for the fact that others are less privy to those feelings than they are themselves. Consequently, they overestimate the extent to which their anxiety is obvious to onlookers. In fact, Clark and Wells (1995) suggest that socially phobic people enter social situations in a heightened self-focused state, namely, from a raised emotional anchor. This self-focused state makes it difficult for individuals to set aside public and private self-knowledge to focus on the task.”

And found out I am disturbed.



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