Of course, the rebellion that I referred to in the last entry, while a good thing, did not instantly wipe my body image issues. I had gained some weight and continued to gain a little bit more as the (eating) pendulum was now swinging the other way.
Feeling the clothes get tighter around my body wasn't a good feeling. And it's easier to hide things with clothes but, while you can still use some smoke and mirrors to help, putting on a belly dance costume makes it harder to hide things, especially around the mid-section. And, well, when I'm in belly dance class, practice wear isn't as apt to play smoke and mirrors so it was fairly in my face.
Not only were body image issues coming back but so did negative thoughts around weight gain and feeling like I was a failure, I let myself down, and insert whatever you can think of that your negative backtalk throws at you.
One thing that I was not expecting at all, though, was a deep sense of familiarity: I had spent a number of years in some version of this more voluptuous body... for much longer than my slender version, actually... so I knew how to dress this body, how to wear things that were flattering. And when it comes to belly dance, I found that it was easier to work this tool than the slender version, especially as I was working back on my dance skills.
A difference, though, is that, since I didn't want to outright buy a new wardrobe, I'm wearing clothes that are more tight fitting than I'm used to... and I find that I'm generally okay with it. My partner still finds me beautiful and sexy and actually encourages me not to hide my body under bigger clothes but celebrate my shapes and curves.
But, still, it was hard to see certain bulges that I had hoped to God I'd never see again.
Fatefully, we went to see Strip Strip Hooray in April. I had blogged about that on the makeup blog so I won't rehash here (you can read the post here) but I will say that I re-introduced makeup to my routine. One thing that is not on the other blog entry is that my partner cautioned me that I shouldn't use makeup as a shield as I had before: I shouldn't hide myself but should only do it if it was making me happy and if it was fun.
Thanks to reading the book where Dita talks about how she has created the sort of glamorous life and environment that she wants to live in, I started using the word "glamorous" to describe dolling myself up... but also to describe my life in general, especially when indulging in things. The more I've been using the word "glamorous", the more I've been in love with the term as it doesn't conjure up a specific size, age, gender, sexual identity, etc. And it's been doing wonders for my self-esteem! Let's face it: who doesn't want to feel glamorous?
But, yanno, again, there are good days and bad days, right?
The biggest epiphany happened while we were at an industrial show in town. It was quite hot (for Seattle) so I decided to wear something more comfortable and, by default, more casual too. Before leaving home, I was bemoaning that I had some awesome goth clothes that don't quite fit anymore. And then we get there and a bunch of girls are all decked out. I was flooded with memories of when ex-husband and I would go to a goth club for NYE and I'd be looking at the girls who looked splendid in their outfits and vow to myself that the next year would be the year when I'd lose the weight and I'd looking like that too.
As I was lost in nostalgia and sadness associated with the many years of having these thoughts only to eventually succeed but have a short-lived success (I had it... I lost it!), I started to notice that the girls around us at the show were being omg, so annoying: they didn't have any sense of the space that they took and would bump into my partner and this one girl kept talking/yelling to this guy (dude, it's a loud bar)... and then I took stock of the situation... and I got angry at myself... I had pined for years to be like one of those vaporous girls? Only good looks but no substance? And no manners to boot? That's sort of dumb, isn't it?
What if, instead, I was perfect just the way I am?... just like my partner and several dear close friends have told me repeatedly, actually. How much time have I spent hating my body? Don't I have a wonderful life otherwise?
And that was the crux, really: it dawned on me that my worrying over my body size and shape was completely and utterly disproportionate with how much it really affected my life. Not only that but I know full well from my own experience that, even when I was slender, I STILL had issues with my body. What the hell?
Shortly after this revelation, I had a gig where the costume I brought wasn't fitting super well anymore and I was feeling self conscious because I knew that I could have looked better in a different costume. But you know what? When the music started, all of that was forgotten and all that I could think of was moving my body in response to the music and emoting what the music was making me feel... not what I looked like in that costume.
So it's high time for a new outlook on things.
I have a very loving and supportive partner, I have a few wonderful close friends, I have a good job, I'm a good dancer, and I live in an awesome city. Are my body image issues really worth fretting over that much? Isn't it small potatoes compared to all the goodness in my life?
Really, if you take anything away from this series of blog entries, it's that I strongly believe that we all spend an overly inordinate amount of time worrying about our bodies and image when, really, we shouldn't.
So, yeah, time to stop the negative talk and have a change in attitude. Of course, it's easier said than done. ;) I'll have more thoughts on that in another entry.