Making peace with the body I have

Jummy and Sayo in a swimming pool. Goodnaijagirl.com

Text from Ves: You guys coming over for a swim today? We can bbq.
Me (to nobody): *Excited squeal*
Also me: Mentally cancels previous plans to run errands and organize my closet. Sends Sayo a text to say (all casual-like) “Oh Ves just asked if we wanted to come for bbq and a swim” along with the guilty face emoji (because the night before I told him about my plans to stay home and get things done!).
Sayo: Yeah, we can go if u like.
Me (to Ves): Yes please! So excited; going to look for my swimsuit now.

I located the plastic tub holding some of my summer clothing, including three swimsuits that I hadn’t worn in at least five years, packed a bag with towels and other necessities, and went out to run some of my errands, making sure I was home when Sayo got back from work. He laughed when he saw me and said that I must be excited about this pool party because I was home (normally I’m gone for hours). The poor guy was exhausted but I convinced him to help me pick which swimsuit to wear.

Once we got to Rich and Ves’s house, I didn’t waste time getting into the beautiful pool. I love the water and even though I can’t swim, I love being in the water; something about it (I think it’s the ability to float) makes me feel feminine (a fresh manicure also does this for me). The weather was warm and so welcome after what felt like the longest winter.

After floating around for a while, glass of zinfandel in hand, I ditched my empty glass to play in the water. I ventured into the deep end where I couldn’t touch the bottom of the pool, but held tight to the edge of the pool the whole time—when I got scared, Ves towed me to safety. I love the water but I have a healthy fear of it! Sayo is a fellow non-swimmer so he observed for a while before joining us (on a cute note, he calls a swimsuit a swimming kit—I’m a fan of the British influence!).

The pictures don’t lie: I had a wonderful time and look forward to going in the water again, whether in my friends’ pool or elsewhere. What the pictures don’t show is how I felt about my body in a bathing suit before we left our house. As I mentioned earlier, I hadn’t worn a swimsuit in a long time (over seven years, now that I think about it) and as much as I’d like to believe that I’ve stayed the same size in that time, the bathing suit does not lie. It’s easy for negative thoughts to take over when something that used to fit looks bad. The first swimsuit that I tried on gave me the effect of having two extra breasts—the ones that were coming out of my armpits!—and it showed off lots of back fat. The second swimsuit had better coverage but was a bit snug on top. The third suit was the best of the bunch: it had the most coverage and was the most flattering (a term I use loosely).

There was a moment after I stepped into the first swimsuit that I said out loud, “I can’t wear a swimsuit”, and after trying on the second suit I considered wearing a t-shirt over it. Even after I settled on the third swimsuit as the best option, my attention turned from covering up my upper body to covering up my legs: I wondered if I still had the men’s swim shorts from 10+ years ago to cover my upper thighs (and if they’d still fit)!

With me, body image issues come and go. Sometimes I’ll think I look cute and ask Sayo to take pictures of me, only to be disappointed and delete the pictures when I don’t look as cute as I imagined. My arms and stomach are large and wobbly, and everything I have learned as a citizen of this world tells me that these are unappealing features. But…you can be uncomfortable with your weight (or other aspect of your appearance) and not let it stop you from doing things that you want to do. Sitting in airplane seats, climbing the narrow and numerous steps at various sites and in the subway (Bonjour, Paris!), and running to catch a bus would all be easier in a lighter body, but I’m not willing to put my life on hold before doing these things. In my last year of high school, I learned the hard way (I finally got a candid picture in the yearbook!) that if you’re fat, wearing baggy clothing makes you look fatter; since then, I avoid baggy clothing. In the end, I wore my swimsuit as-is, almost as an act of defiance (against society, maybe?) and I didn’t think about how my body looked again until I saw the pictures and videos.

Long before I met Sayo, I had decided that whoever I would spend my life with would have to accept my body as-is because I refuse to deal with someone else’s issues with my body, in addition to my own issues! I can’t imagine that situation: it’s one thing for me to ask someone to hold me accountable for my food and physical activity decisions, but it’s another thing entirely for someone to impose their body wishes on me (even if it’s for my own good—I’m an adult and no one can make me get fit but me). I was adamant that anyone who dated or married me had to assume I would never change (translation: get slimmer) and if he knew that he couldn’t deal with that, he was to get out of my life. God provided me with a husband who has told me (without prompting!) that he loves the parts of me that I would never expect him (or any man) to specifically single out (hiya, back fat!). To each his own, right? I say that, but I kind of think he’s lying, and it bothers him that I’d think he would lie about that.

As I get older, I’m more at peace with my physical appearance. Being at peace doesn’t mean I’m happy with every aspect of my body; to me it means I can have kind and loving thoughts about my body, even if I want it to look different. I can focus on what it allows me to do rather than feeling bad because it doesn’t look a certain way. If I do lose weight, I want my primary motivation to be health.

I don’t start each day by kissing my reflection in the mirror, but I know and believe that my value as a human being doesn’t fluctuate with my weight—I’m always valuable, and you are too! Even though I can point out my flaws in a heartbeat, guess what? When I first looked at the pictures and videos from last weekend, the first thing that I saw were my big smiles and evidence that I was having a good time. That’s a win.

How would you evaluate your body acceptance and body image?

11 thoughts on “Making peace with the body I have

  1. I have been a size 18 (US) for years now and only last summer did I finally gain the confidence I needed to wear a swimsuit. Nothing too daring, but still, not boy shorts or “skort” just a straight up suit and it felt great. Now I wear them all the time. the irony really is that, I lacked the confidence, even when I was 18 years old and a size 6 (US). The incessant bombardment of “perfect” bodies in our environment is hell on a girl’s psyche. I am working on getting to ‘peace’ myself, it really is an uphill battle.
    On a side note, you look good, and happy.

    • Hi Ejiro! It’s great to hear from you; thank you for sharing. Wow: what you wrote about size 6 you versus size 18 you is proof that it’s all about what’s in your head, and what’s in our head is heavily influenced by our environment! I’m glad that you’re working on body love/ acceptance/peace; it’s a journey, but a worthwhile one. I’m glad I’m on it.

  2. I’m a short girl. I’ve never really liked being a short girl, despite being a very small size (which can be an issue in itself – at one point in my life, during my late 20s-early 30s, I was actually “sized out” of some brands. It’s amazing how even TWO POUNDS can change a short girl’s size, from non-existent to 0. Shoes are a whole other story. My feet are STILL too small for some brands). When you’re on the other side of the spectrum, you’re actually not allowed to talk about it, because you have “size privilege.” What people don’t understand is that not everything can be altered to fit you – try shortening a top and keeping proportion. Heck, try altering just about ANYTHING and keep things in proportion. I think people just think short people have short legs. Errrrrrr…NO. We’re short everywhere. And some of us are “leggy,” despite being short.

    Even though I followed many petite bloggers (mostly people who are petite AND skinny), these influencers didn’t do too much to help me accept my height. It wasn’t until I hit my mid-30s that changed things. It was really when I stopped caring about trying to be an “influencer” (I really COULD NOT fit in with the blogging crowd. I’m not…creative enough) that made me accept me. So I’m short. The shortest in my family. Whatever.

    • Hey Cynthia,

      Whether we’re short and slim, or tall and fat (or any of the many combinations in between), we’re not alone. Even if only one other person in the whole wide world shares our particular woes, we have an ally. It’s good to share your reality with people to educate them, and that’s what I do on my blog, but it can also be comforting to discuss it with like-minded people in the same situation.

      I’m thankful that I’m learning to accept my body for what it is (both the changeable and unchangeable parts), with the full knowledge that I don’t have to let how I look in any way affect how I show up in the world or who I can become—it feels good.💪

  3. OMG…she’s back…thank you Ves for inviting her to your party and making her remember the blog.

    Hey Jummy, you look good in your swimsuit, saying hello to Sayo as well.

    • Thank you, Laide dear—I have to say your thank you to Ves made me laugh! I’m going to work hard not to forget you again. Thanks for your kind words about me and Sayo will hear o. God bless you!

  4. Joomers,
    I’m gonna have to take credit here for telling you that size won’t matter when It comes to love. I remember you obsessing over having to lose a bunch of weight to date.
    I’m glad you found a good guy who can accept you for who you are. Continue to work on things but be ok with who you are in the moment. I lost over 60 lbs. I’m still not happy with how I look in pictures but I know I am closer to my goal.
    Take care buddy.
    :)

    • Yes, Matt: take that credit! I hated the fact that society made me think I’d have to lose weight to find love and I’m glad that I was able to meet and marry a guy who likes me as I am!

      Congrats on the huge weight loss: that’s something to be proud of. Even if you’re not 100% happy with what you see in the mirror, please keep showing up.

  5. When I saw the title of this post, I just had to read it!

    And I’m so so glad I did, Jummy. I’ve never for the life of me seen anyone talk so honestly, openly, and unashamedly about their body the way you did in this post; and my respect for you has just spiked!

    I started out a robust baby and young child; a good note, right? But I became thinner as I grew older, and by the time I was in my final high-school year, they were calling me ”pencil” in class. One boy marveled at me the day I dared to pull off my t-shirt while we played ball.

    “Ah Subomi, you’re so thin,” he kept saying over and over. “Just look at his ribs!” He said it so many times that in my hurt, I complained bitterly to my neighbor and friend, who shut him up immediately.

    Of course I wore my t-shirt back.

    The amazing part of all this is that I didn’t think anything to be wrong with my thinness while I grew up. In the naivete of childhood, I was just happy to be alive, man. Until people came along and began to air their not-exactly-wonderful opinions; that’s when the consciousness, the shame, kicked in. My mom buying oversize clothes for me only made things WORSE.

    Then one day – still a teenager – I just said;
    “Yeah, I’m thin. So what? I am beautiful just the way I am – and I love me!”

    And guess what? That was the end of it! People of course still came and told me how painfully thin I was – and some still do, the callous mumus. Many of my clothes still don’t fit perfectly, and it’s hard to find clothes that are tailored to my sparse body type. But I’m really okay the way I am; in fact, I’m GORGEOUS the way I am! And because I find myself attractive, people find me attractive too – more so in many cases sef!

    I realize that this thing is all in the mind. There is a standard that the society sets for everyone concerning things that are actually diverse by nature; looks, height, skin colour, education, background, the list goes. Society picks one and labels it ‘acceptable’ and then chucks away all the rest, so anyone outside the endorsed category is looked upon as inferior. What a waste.

    But we know this is wrong. And this post is such a refreshing reminder of the truth: You’re not of a ‘lower specie’ just because you may not fit into a particular category favored by the crowd.

    Before, I used to be particular about the kind of girl I wanted to marry in future; big breasts, big butt, amazing thighs – the full package, lol. But then I came to understand that when you truly love a woman, if she was flat-chested as an ironing board, she’d still arouse you faster than the woman with the biggest bazookas.

    ‘Cos love is beyond conditions – it’s commitment regardless of the condition.

    I still want to grow just a bit fatter – let my clothes fit better, abi? And I still like those……kind of women, ma binu. But I love me and everyone else.

    Sorry I wrote so much!

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