“Embrace” and Embracing My Own Body

I just saw “Embrace” in the theater and knew I had to come straight home and write about it. As one of the beautiful women in the documentary said, “We need to accept each other, and one way to do that is to share our stories.”

So here’s mine.

I’m on the other side of the scale. I have always been moderately to severely underweight.

I know that magazines and fashion shows and photos just about EVERYWHERE lead women to believe that skinny is everything, but when you’re skinny you can be bullied too, either because people are jealous or because maybe being skinny is not what most people are actually attracted to.

I was one of those super awkward preteens. I didn’t grow into my body for a long time and I was a bit like Baby Bambi when he was trying to figure out how to get his body to move the way he wanted it to. I was always very tall and thin, and so I thought modeling made sense. The modeling agency turned me down…apparently there’s such a thing as “too tall,” or so they told me. I could have gotten a second opinion; I could have tried out other agencies. But honestly that didn’t occur to me because the label stuck: I was too tall.

I can rewind my life to 8th grade English class where Brad and Matt made fun of me and insulted my highwaters (the term used for jeans that were much too short for my long legs). I overheard another boy once tell someone that my face was alright but my body was nasty.

I couldn’t figure it out. I had the bodies of the girls in the magazines, but I was ridiculed every day. I would act brave and unaffected at school and then get home and break into tears. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I look like everyone else? I had nicknames like Toothpick and Giraffe at school. I ate and ate and ATE, but my body just didn’t get any bigger.

I never had a lot of body confidence when I was young. Even as a teenager (think pre-mom body) I kept my clothes on during sex. After I had my second daughter I again started keeping clothes on during intimacy. When I was young I hated having small breasts. When I was older I was happy with small breasts (I’m a stomach sleeper!) but less than excited about the sagginess that came from nursing two children.

Guess what? After two kids, I’m still skinny. Besides having small and droopy breasts, I have stretch marks. I also have cellulite. I still, in my thirties, have acne. And I have a lot of scars.

I have done a TON of body empowerment work. I read self-help books. I write self-love courses. Am I perfect at all of this? No; I’m not perfect at anything; pretty sure humans weren’t made to be perfect.

Which brings me to my body: not perfect. I prefer perfectly imperfect. My body is my story. My story involves sexual abuse. My story involves a high metabolism. My story involves sickness and struggle. My story involves being a mother. My story involves tears of gratitude, tears of joy, tears of wonder, tears of bliss, tears of pain. My story involves courage and my story involves strength. My story is real. I’m real.

Please know that not all of us skinny girls have eating disorders. Not all of us (or any of us!) have flawless bodies under our clothes, either.

Before you click the “like” button on an image that says something like “Real women have curves” consider that maybe, just maybe, we’re ALL real women. Before you tell someone thin to “eat a hamburger” check in and see how that may affect that woman. We’re all in this together. We’re all here in our various shapes and sizes and colors and that’s what makes us amazing. We raise ourselves up not by putting others down but by reaching out and doing just what the documentary suggests—embracing. We need more hugs, love, and acceptance. THAT’S how we will all rise.

Please go see “Embrace”! It’s playing in select cities. If you happen to also be in Austin, the next showing is November 1st at the Arbor Hills theater.

XOXO,

Leah

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