Issue 7: Not Unscathed (Thoughts On Body Image Trauma of the 2000s)
Content warning: diet culture & body image.
I feel like I’ve spent most of my (limited) adult years reckoning with the body image trauma of my adolescence - the toxicity of the 2000s diet culture scars nearly every young millennial woman I know.
Being the very last of millennials finds me in a place where my formative teenage years were the transition from “cocaine-chic” to the butts and tiny waists of the Kardashians. I spent my later high school years covering an eating disorder by claiming to be vegetarian, whispering to myself Kate Moss’s infamous quote “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” We weren’t just taught that being beautiful meant being skinny, we were taught that being skinny was a reflection of how disciplined and productive we were, and that our weight somehow correlated with our morality and our value.
We weren’t just taught that being beautiful meant being skinny, we were taught that being skinny was a reflection of how disciplined and productive we were, and that our weight somehow correlated with our morality and our value.
F*** 2000s diet culture.
Today, I know I’m healthy and I’m strong. I enjoy moving my body now for the purpose of feeling good and for my mental health and because I love watching myself get stronger. And yet I still have days where I look at my legs and find myself asking ‘why are they so big.’ The day I was called ‘thunder thighs’ in middle school crashes back down around me. I have mastered the soft smile because I have beautiful, full cheeks and they make my eyes squint and my face squish when I smile with teeth. But I love to smile and it bothers me that I find myself so uncomfortable when I do.
As a very young millennial, I’m old enough for the horrific body image scars so many of us wear from the 2000s, and young enough to be so impressed with how the generation behind me is rejecting the diet culture and fat-phobic lies of my adolescence.
And it gives me so much hope.
I’m not much beyond the acceptance stage of my body image trauma. But I’ve fought tooth and nail even to be here. There are days when I am proud to be as strong as I am and when I love the softness of my curves. There are days when I don’t even think about my body as something tied to morality because my goodness and discipline are not reliant on how I look or the number on a scale. And I know that, and yet some days my trauma rears its head and I just want to scream.
It’s exhausting, isn’t it?
But when I look back to where I was 2…5…8 years ago, I can’t help but be hopeful and proud. I may wear the scars of the perfect storm of body shaming and fat-phobic nastiness that I grew up in, and yet the acceptance of that trauma is slowly giving way to a reframing of how I see my body and a disentangling of the value of my being from my looks.
For years I thought my body was something to judge and pick apart, that’s simply what everyone did. I couldn’t trust it - to trust it was to be undisciplined. I felt separate from it. But that’s not true anymore, not most days at least. I do trust my body. I trust it to take me on long walks in the morning. I trust it to cue me when it needs fuel for energy. I trust it in the gym. I trust it when I’m being held by Seth, letting myself breathe comfortably and be soft. I trust it to play with my nieces and nephews and smile now when they tell me how snuggly my stomach is.
I’m still not sure how to heal fully and I think these will likely be scars I will carry for many more years. But I’m also proud of how far I’ve come in the last decade. Thank goodness we can be human and celebrated in a far more wonderful and imperfect way. And I’m hopeful for the world my nieces and nephews are growing up in.
If you have any thoughts, books, podcasts or other resources about healing from body image trauma, I’d love to hear them.
Here’s What I’m Delighted by This Week:
So many of my favorite shows just started new seasons that are releasing weekly episodes. I’m loving the return of curling up on the couch with Seth to watch just one episode. We’re watching this and this, and I’m watching this too.
We all lost our minds with these $35 jeans from yesterday’s reel. As a pretty devoted Madewell gal, I did not expect to keep these, but I’ve been wearing them more than any other pair recently. They do run small, so order up 2-3 sizes depending on how you want them to fit. (Side note; what do we have to do for women’s pant sizing to have standard waist, length, and hip measurements?)
Meal planning is not something I am good at. And eating at home is more stressful and chaotic than I would like. So we (finally) adopted The Lazy Genius’ dinner schedule, tweaked it to make it our own, and it has been a game changer.
Our Thursday night meal is protein + veggie. And this week we made Trader Joe’s peppercorn garlic pork tenderloin (in the meat fridge), TJ’s sweet potato gnocchi with butter & sage (in the freezer section at my Trader Joe’s), and my favorite Roasted Brussel Sprouts. It was simple and delicious.
These pants arrived this week and they’re a delight to wear (and currently on sale). They’re quite thin for corduroys but great for our more mild southern winters here in NC. I would suggest sizing up 2 sizes - they run quite small in the waist. (again, standard sizing please)
I will be listening to this album on repeat. Oh my goodness, it is so good.
And I can’t stop thinking about this duvet cover. We have a navy & cream upholstered chinoiserie headboard and I think the juxtaposition, pattern play, and tone on tone would be *chef’s kiss*.
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