My body has gone through many many changes in my 50 plus years. Growing up into a girl who then got her period on the day of a 7th grade camping trip. Valuing myself only for my body as an angry teen. Living the religion of pretty, fit, and desirable in my 20’s and 30’s. And all the changes that come with motherhood at 38 and 46 directly followed by perimenopause. And then the Covid pandemic lockdown weight gain.

And while I was grieving and raging about these inevitable changes, making judgments about my body and promises to correct them, my relationship with my body image changed. My distended belly and flappy arms are not the me I remember. I could no longer tolerate seeing my whole body in mirrors. But my exercise classes happen in rooms with mirrors.

After our lockdown kept me away for far too many months, I returned to my exercise classes. But I avoid looking at myself in the mirror. I watch as these other young women look at themselves in those mirrors. It fascinates me to see how enthralled they are with themselves and so beautiful. I envy them and I suspect them.

Part of me has always raged against the objectification which being a woman automatically subjects us too. I am angry and I may also be angry that I can no longer fulfill that purpose. That I have to prove my worth another way and I don’t quite know how.

This quote from Margaret Atwood speaks of the trapped feeling of being our own voyeurs; “Even pretending you aren’t catering to male fantasies is a male fantasy: pretending you’re unseen, pretending you have a life of your own, that you can wash your feet and comb your hair unconscious of the ever-present watcher peering through the keyhole, peering through the keyhole in your own head, if nowhere else. You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman. You are your own voyeur.”

I desperately need to find a place to be OK with where and how I am in my life and be compassionate of my struggle to be where I am and make a change for the better. But I know I have to stand and claim something really big here. Until then, I will not move onward. And I truly want to move out of this uncomfortable place sooner than later.

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4 Comments

  1. Valerie Lutherus Reply

    Every thing you posted here resonates with me. I too hesitate to look in the mirror anymore. It makes me cringe to see my post covid /menopausel body. I am soft and doughy and disgusted with the way I look now and yet I feel fierce and protective and compassionate with myself in some ways too. I keep telling myself that I will exercise more and eat less and yet…I never seem to do either. I did finally buy a bigger size in summer clothes so I could be comfortable in looser clothing.
    I AM my own voyeur. I AM my own worst critic. I AM soft and doughy and maybe fat would describe me as well. But I AM also happier than I have ever been in my size 16 jeans and tops. It almost feels like a bit of a relief to not be so worried about always being that tiny size 6.

    • Thank you so much for your support Val! It made me happy even though thos is a tough subject for both of us. And yes, everything you said too.

  2. Love this. Love the quote by Margaret Atwood, I just wrote a blog post about thanking yourself, which I’ll be posting tomorrow, and I wanted to post a picture of me but, I’m so judgmental, I’m too this and too that and oh no I look terrible here and this is horrible…I must have taken 400 pictures to finally find one that I liked enough to include with the post.
    And I have to wonder and ask myself, am I a “woman with a man inside watching a woman” ??? We live in a world where youth is admired and held up as the only beautiful way to be, how do you get over that?
    Thank you for this great post xoxo

    • It feels like survival to both acknowledge that l am not the only one feeling this and to read your story. As shameful as it feels to share our body shamd because we’re modern women and know better, if it’s all we can do to say “Me Too!”, then good for us! That’s the beginning of something we need to figure out and together is better ♥️

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