When did you become aware of your body?

I have been really struggling with my body this week.  Which seems silly.  My body is capable of amazing things.  I’ve run marathons.  I teach multiple classes a week, sometimes multiple classes a day.  Sometimes, I look in the mirror in the morning, and see something awesome.  And yet, this week, when Aunt Flo decided to visit a few days early, and I put on a teeny bit of weight after what I felt was an amazing week at the gym, everything went to hell, and I became uncomfortably aware of how much physical space I was taking up.

I found the responses to last week’s post really interesting.  IRL, as well as online, I heard a lot from you guys (which I love).  However, the most intriguing responses came from the folks who’d shared on it in an online Trail and Ultra Running group I’ve been a part of.  Many folks commended my friend for calling me out, as they should have.  A few folks commended me for admitting what an asshole I’d been.  And more than most admitted to feeling poorly about their own bodies.  Some admitted to doing what I’d done, turning the things they felt were negative about themselves into rules that dictate what others should wear, and how they should wear it.

What’s so interesting about this group is that these folks are capable, strong humans.  Some of them truly do look like models.  Some look like fitness models.  Some are overweight.  Some don’t look like “typical” runner.  Some do.  However, their running and their capabilities are in no way defined by their looks.  So why all the angst as it relates to our bodies, especially considering the fact that at the very least, in that group especially, our bodies are capable of running endless miles on rugged terrain?

When did we get so aware of our bodies, and what they should look like?

For me, I remember being 120 lbs as a freshman in high school.  I struggled with my looks, the way I’m sure all 14-year-olds did.  I was sitting in a civics, and I looked down.  I was wearing a fitted top, and noticed the part of my tummy that was hanging over the edge of my jeans.  I pinched it.  I pinched it again.  To this day when I’m feeling anxious or particularly down, I will look down, grab that little roll, and pinch.  No matter how small or how round it’s gotten.

I’m not sure how I learned that behavior, or what drew me to became aware of this part of my body.  However, at 13 or 14, I knew that there was something “wrong” with it.  And, as I talked about last week, the things I find “wrong” with myself, I look for in others.

All of that said, I do identify with the fact that not everything I’m thinking is logical or right.  I recently ran a marathon.  I have incredible physical strength.  I just completed a grueling vinyasa sculpt class with minimal nausea.  I should have incredible gratitude for my body, these limbs, these muscles that get me from more than point A to point B.  But, my first instinct, my first learned behavior is to be critical of the physical manifestation of who I am.

At what point did you become aware of your body?  What does your body mean to you?

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8 thoughts on “When did you become aware of your body?

  1. I first became aware of my body my Freshman year of high school. I broke the bench press & Pull up record in gym class. I have a small body frame (5′ 100 lbs). I remember thinking I have a beautiful body. I also remember a year later wearing only lose shirts because I was self conscious. I went from ripped to normal. But normal for everyone else seemed fat to me. Now I am still the about the same size, but I am more toned. I am more critical now than ever! I am like you, my body does amazing things! Somehow it is easier to judge myself. My husband says that us ladies should get a chance to see our bodies through the eyes of others, then we would appreciate them!

    1. I would LOVE to have that power. I often wonder what other people see when they see me. I hear sometimes if we saw ourselves, that we would not recognize ourselves. That is SO interesting to me!

  2. I become aware of my body very young as I was the first in my class to develop. I constantly compared myself to the childlike bodies of my classmates. Even in HS and beyond i compared my size and frame to those of petite girls that were 4 to 6 inches shorter than me. I felt huge and thick. I still feel huge even though I am a very fit person and do not wear huge sizes at all. In fact I wear size small.. Others tell me that I am trim and fit but I do not see that at all. I often wonder if something is wrong with my brain that I see a body that is all flaws and I feel so large. I am not always sure how much of my self awareness is real. If I do look in a mirror and see myself looking slim and toned I think the mirror is warped.

    1. Wow – that’s really powerful. I wonder if there is a way to train your brain to see what you are – which sounds like a strong, healthy, and fit woman! Thank you for sharing.

      1. I did learn over time to be proud of what my body could do rather than how it looked in comparison to those I deemed perfect. I have had 3 children and can still wear a bikini and have ran many races that I am very proud of. Several times i have ran under 19 minutes for a 5k and while that its not elite it is a benchmark I am very proud of. Nice thing about running is that it is an sport where results of hard work are objective to judge. .

        But in this day and age of social media I think we all struggle more with body image as we compare our selves not just to photoshopped models but also to “those attention whore types” that photoshop and filter a daily picture to perfection.

      2. GO YOU for wearing that bikini after kids. You TOTALLY rock. A lot of folks would not have the balls to do that! Heck, sometimes, *I* don’t have the balls!

    1. God that 4th/5th grade time is the worst time of life for ANYONE’S mental health. Just out of curiosity, did you have someone (like a mom, or tv, or a sister, who criticized herself).

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