Take Me For What I Am

contributed by Bess Devenow- “Counterculture” Expert

DISCLAIMER: this post deals with body image and acceptance. If this is an issue that is particularly sensitive for you, you may not want to read this.

When it comes to blogging, my motto has always been that issues from far in the past generally belong there, unless I receive a question from a reader pertaining to that issue OR a pivotal recent experience directly relates to the particular topic.

And given I had a recent experience that falls in the latter category, I thought a very raw post was in order.

Unlike other bloggers whose tone is more about their weight issues, my blog is not about that. Frankly, I’m pretty happy in my own skin. That said, even when you love your body, you have days where you don’t love everything about your body (at least I do).

Most recently, I was tested on how I accept my own body just a couple days ago. I stopped into the vitamin shop I regularly go to because I was feeling like I was about to develop a cold. I picked up the remedy I always use and imagine my chagrin when the salesperson who has sold me this very product many times (and was the one who recommended it to me) said “You shouldn’t take them if you are pregnant”.

I was a little taken aback and hadn’t fully comprehended what she was saying and then heard her listing off some other do/don’t remedies for pregnant women. I finally said “There’s no bun in my oven” and still hadn’t fully processed what she said, though added “I think I should take offense to this?” before I left.

I walked out of the store and about 5 minutes later, it all hit me like a ton of bricks. Not only did this woman think I looked pregnant to the point where she didn’t even ask if I was but rather implied that she knew, but she had no problems saying that to her customer.

Once I grasped this, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t upset about this comment. But, I also looked within myself, marveled at my strength, couldn’t identify any major problem spots and last but not least, channeled how dark of a place 40 pounds lighter was for me.

If anything, this experience reminded me of how far I’ve come, particularly in recent months (see my post about photo tag anxiety, when I acknowledged that body image issues still crop up from time to time).

But it also reminded me that when I was wasting away, I didn’t stand up for myself. I can’t tell you how many people would say to me “you look so skinny” and “you look so good” and I wanted so badly to say “no I don’t. I look like a sad sack of bones”, but I wasn’t able to say that. I always refrained because I knew deep down that by saying something, it would mean I would have to take accountability, address this problem head on and I wasn’t ready to give up the one area in my life that my 21 year old self felt she had “control” over. *Sidenote: for those of you who are wondering why I don’t put up pictures of myself in my skeleton days, it’s because I would hate for anything I put on my blog to trigger unhealthy thoughts or behaviors in anybody else.  Plus, to be honest, I don’t have a lot of pictures of myself during that time because I knew I looked bony and awful and was constantly avoiding photo ops.*

So after about 36 hours of thinking things over, I knew I had to go back into the vitamin shop and say something. To stand up for myself and my body. To acknowledge that had this woman made that same statement to me three or four years ago (or another fragile customer on this very day) it may have triggered very self-destructive behaviors. To let her know that it simply isn’t okay to make false assumptions.

For someone whose generally confident and doesn’t get walked over a lot, situations like this  really stress me out. However, for the first time in 30 years, I approached this situation with utter and complete calmness, said what I needed to say (she wasn’t there but I spoke with a manager) and that was that. No food restriction. No diet pills. No overeating. Just another regular day (that obviously involved dessert because that’s how I roll).

It reminded me how far I have come in the quest for self acceptance and I had to share this with you because without self love, we are setting ourselves up for major sabotage. And frankly, I now love myself too much for that.

Have you had an experience that reminded you how far you’ve come in a debilitating area of your life?

How do you react when someone makes a comment about you that is out of line?

Have you ever stood up for your body?


Leave a reply