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Body Image

I have no idea how it began, but I spent most of my early life convinced that I was massively overweight. As a child, as a teenager, and then through most of my early adult life I was certain that I was far above average weight and that there was little I could do about changing that. I didn't particularly care at the time so I never found myself with eating problems or over-dieting to try to fix it, but I did think it was just one of those things that I was going to have to put up with.

Looking back, however, that was clearly a load of rubbish. The photo at the top of this article was me aged about 17 or 18, and these days I can see that I was a pretty normal size at the time, possibly even a bit smaller than the average. Family, friends, teachers at school all had me convinced that I was fat though, and it took me until I was in my mid 40s (and by then actually overweight) to realise that they were all wrong.

But if I wasn't bothered by it, what was the problem?

I made decisions - both conscious and subconscious - based on my belief that I was overweight. I was never very good at sport back then, but I never really tried either as I felt that I would have to lose weight before I could get involved. I was never very confident around girls as I knew they all just saw me as some sort of blob so I blustered a lot and made out that I wasn't interested. I paid no attention to what I ate as why did it matter if I put on a few pounds more. I basically had a very low impression of myself.

Later on, in my early 40s, I had a few health problems, and because I already saw myself as overweight I didn't notice when the change in my health made me actually put on a huge amount of body fat. I gained 4 stone in a couple of years, and it was only when the horse I occasionally rode could no longer carry me that I realised something was up.

These days I am quite active as I teach dance (that was an unexpected career change) and walk all over the local countryside, but I am finding it hard to shift the weight and get back to where I was. I'm still not bothered by the way I look, although I would like to be a bit thinner so my weight isn't the first thing people see in photographs of me, but my health and fitness have definitely suffered as a result of the change in weight and I have to wonder if had I had a more realistic impression of my weight as a child, would I have let myself put all that on in the first place?

Body shaming, telling people they are fat, ugly, wearing the wrong clothes, etc. affects everyone differently and I got off pretty lightly, but there is no excuse for it ever.

Let people be themselves.

Posted by: Graham   Permalink: link   Keywords: Blog  Body Image  Family  

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