Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sometimes.

Sometimes you're expecting a package. You check the mailbox as soon as you get home, twice. You keep a close eye on the road. When the mailman comes you go loiter on the porch. If it's been a while, you drop by the post office to make sure it wasn't accidentally delivered into your P.O. box. Around here, if the mailbox is empty, you go on a scavenger hunt; did they leave it by the office? The picnic shelter? On the porch? Secretly, you begin to accuse the mailman of grand theft parcel.

But sometimes...when you're not expecting a package, not expecting anything, except bills and weird catalogues, and the mailman comes touting a cartoon covered package you want to hug them, even though they're only doing their job and it would be wildly inappropriate.

Which is exactly what happened to me yesterday when:

sent me a package of perfect looks
70s tops and bowed pins
a package of wonderful wondrous things!

Thank you Andrea, you made my day!
To make it better there's just one way,
if I could have a cup of tea with yo.u
Let's get together and sit in a booth.

I pretty much adopted that lavender cardigan right away. This is what I was wearing before the inappropriate mailman hugging incident.
Now, I was actually going to ask you guys about body image. I've been running a series of what the lovely Tara called "anti-fashion posts", which is pretty much where I stand when it comes to it, this strange animal, that supposedly tells us what to wear. As much as I love clothes and style and their complicated personal and sociological connotations, I haven't really cared about fashion for years, except perhaps as a matter of curiosity. But that's a whole other post right there.
So in the vein of the "why, how and what we wear"-posts, I was wondering: do you gals sometimes contemplate the short-comings of your bodies? I've, for a long time, been pretty impervious to the notion of skinny, large-breasted, hairlessness-image that fashion magazines peddle to us.
The more complex matter is however that we also peddle it to each other. Take blog-land for instance. It's pretty flattering pictures all around. Not a lot of pictures from angles that made you look chubby, or that show your break-outs. Of course none of us want to feel unattractive, but sometimes our efforts to present our best selves to the world, our friends, or even ourselves, can obscure who we really are.
Here's the skinny behind this pondering: I've gained weight since I came to America. Not like a ton (only 999 pounds obviously), but about 10 of your American pounds. I've never been really skinny, but I've never been really heavy, either, and tough my weight gain is not substancial, or put me anywhere near what Western doctors deem an unhealthy BMI, upon seeing these picture of my belly I was a little horrified. I thought about not wearing tight clothes. I thought about going on a diet(Fat chance.) . I even thought about not posting these pics.

This is really disturbing to me. That I would even consider having a little pot-belly embarrassing enough to let it alter my style-choices, or posting on this here log, is obvious evidence, that some way or another, I've let my thinking be influenced by this culture of dichotomies that we, women in particular, live in.

I'm not telling you guys any of this because I think I'm fat. I know I'm not fat. I'm telling you this because I want to hear your opinion on body issues, whether you still carry residual body-hatred from earlier in life, whether you're totally at ease in your bodies.

I'm telling you this because sometimes I think about my body. And sometimes they're not nice thoughts.

24 comments:

  1. wow. you made me think, and go back and look through my recent posts to see if i ever post "fat" pics of myself. and i remembered that there was one of me laughing and making a goofy double-chinned face from the trip i just took, and even though my brother joey looks so dashing in it (best face forward for him at least!) i left it out, almost subconsciously but not quite. weird. ugh. i like to think that i overcame body issues in my early twenties, and sometimes i am known to talk about how rad it is to actually NOT GIVE A DAMN as long as you feel healthy. which is generally true for me and it better NOT be just talk, but i do superficially look forward to summer suntans because all that dead of winter white fleshiness is sort of appalling to me, i'll admit. and other issues creep in, like aging, feeling uncomfortable with pictures of myself that show wrinkles on my forehead or baggy eyes, but i will admit i do sort of love my gray hairs.

    so, i guess there are no answers. there is only free communication and openness and love for ourselves and other women and healthy living and TRYING to refuse to give in to the rampant "cutsieness" of the blog world (my sister and i secretly laugh about the fact that you have to be cute to have a successful blog. like really, really CUTE). i love that you're talking about it. i've never seen that before and it is utterly refreshing. and by the way your tiny belly is absolutely perfect.

    and lastly, you are a lucky lady getting such an amazing surprise package from andrea!

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  2. I love this post and I love that you posted the pictures! I think you're beautiful and I'm so so glad you talked about this subject, because not enough people do. I've always been a thin person and in high school I had issues with not eating enough and an obscured self-image... was it a full-blown eating disorder? no. But it certainly wasn't good and I can't believe I thought that way of myself. Now, at 22 years old, I'm still thin, but I've acquired a bit of a pot belly myself - not exercising as much as I should, and a slowed metabolism. Now that I weigh more than I did in high school, my self-image is better and I know I'm not fat... just a bit on the squishy side. I wish more girls knew how beautiful they are and our society's obsession with stick figures and jutting bones would stop. It's sickening, damaging to womanhood and so far from reality when it comes to how most women naturally look.

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  3. long time lurker, no time commenter, but here's my two-cents.

    I spent my whole teenage hood hating my body. Why was I built like my mother, at least my mom has hips I have none. Why am I gaining weight?

    I started weightlifting, hoping to burn some fat...the whine refrain became: why am I so built, how come I gain so much muscle so fast, why do I look like a man.

    Then I had my daughter. And I realized my body made her and she's perfect.

    Only then, to me, did my mind make a switch and my body become something worth loving, something I didn't have to abuse or punish for not living up to social standards of beauty. Not to mention, I'm thinner now than I've been my whole life (then again, I'm under a lot of stress) but if I gained more weight I wouldn't care.

    Because self image is just that, a state of mind. I know that if I feel like shit, I'm gonna look like Baba Yaga in the mirror, no matter what.

    So I try to feel good as often as I can and tell myself that 70 years ago they used to sell lard to girls who didn't have curves because skinny girls didn't get too many suitors.

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  4. I have to admit my thoughts on my body fluctuate between thinking I am totally sexy, to thinking I'm a fat cow. It really depends on my mood and the day and what I've been up to and events in my life. Luckily for me, recently I've felt quite fit and attractive.

    I'm no skinny girl, not by a long shot, and technically speaking I am overweight. I'm 5'4" tall and weigh about 160lbs. But I've never had trouble attracting men, and I'm lucky enough that my body nicely made itself into feminine curves and not a dumpy mess.

    I too have a belly, quite a bit larger than your own admitedly hah, but I'm learning to live with it even if I don't like it all that much.

    It really is a shame that society tells us all that we need to be rail thin and have perfect skin etc. to be beautiful. Some of the most beautiful people I know are the complete opposit of that.

    I think that if we can believe in our beauty, others will too. Confidence is attractive, and it's all in how you wear it.

    In the meantime, I will try to love my body best I can and accept the things I don't like about it. Because I know I'm beautiful, even if I'm not perfect.

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  5. i'm pleased as punch that you liked my junk :) i was really excited to send it and Missa helped to make the plan a success! I picked up that cardi when i noticed your purple obsession, how lovely you are wearing it!

    I have so many feelings on the topic of your post today. Like many of the other ladies, I think my body issues were so much worse when I was younger and I actually read fashion magazines. I love myself much more than I ever did as an awkward teenager, even though I was much thinner then. Today I care less and less about "fashion" and prefer blogs (like yours) to magazines... but like you I recently gained some weight.

    And for some reason I don't why I still fall into this trap of self-hating over something so silly? Even I, who consider myself to be pretty well schooled in feminist speak, still have issues with this. The recent weight gain really bothered me. In some ways I saw it as failure on my part to stay healthy, to exercise like I should, to eat better... although part of my weight gain probably has to do with me cooking lots of tasty things lately because I have more time to do it:) And then there is whole other new element I'm experiencing as I approach the end of my 20s... getting older? Something I'd never ever considered. But, that's another story isn't it?

    We've just got to stay the course & stick together I suppose! Feed off of each other in positive ways and create alternative "womyn" (i love that) narratives. To be honest, I find that in your blog and many of the the other lovely ladies I have "met" through the blogosphere and I love it :)

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  6. the fact that you posted this makes me (as a total stranger) love you as if you were a long-lost friend (even more than i already did before this)

    i have struggled with my body issues for so many years and, being a free girl who likes to think of herself as a non-judgemental, open-minded individual on our beautiful planet i would like to not spend a solitary second worrying about something as small and unimportant as my wee pot-belly. i mean, seriously.

    and throw into the mix the fact that my best friend (a liberal feminist too and all round amazing individual) is naturally a thin goddess, no matter what she does or doesn't do.

    but i have been there in that very dark place where you can barely stand up you're so undernourished and i will never go there again.

    and girl, your blog has done so much for my own sense of body image. i love everything about the way you dress, the way you hold yourself and the relationship you have with your own body. please, please don't ever change.

    kerri x

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  7. Oof, body image is a real issue for me. It is one of many reasons that I often post and then delete photos from flickr.
    I've never had a good body image. The strangest part is that I fully recognize the disordered nature of my thoughts--of course I'm in no way fat--but I've yet to be able to stop them. One day, I hope. I'm glad you posted this! You look beautiful, as always.

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  8. I am new to your blog, but so far love it, and love how honest you are. It sounds to me that most of the women that posted comments on here all have issues with their stomachs, which is so nice to hear, because that has always been my biggest issue with my body! But I read this awesome article awhile back about how women are supposed to have a little pooch in their bellies, because we are built to have babies. It has something to do with women's hormones in our bodies when we are at the child birthing age. It is actually not natural for women to have completely flat stomachs with absolutely no fat. Women are just built this way, to have more body fat than men, because we give birth. The media, movies, TV, fashion magazine all play into the image issues as well, which is unhealthy for young girls to grow up viewing and believing that their bodies aren't ok because they don't look like the supermodels and actresses. I try to tell myself all of this when I am feeling insecure about my body. It's tough, and I definitely have a mean little voice in my head as well. Even at 28 I still get these thoughts, and I thought by now this wouldn't be the case. Thanks so much for being honest, obviously you are not the only one feeling this way, and it helps to have a community of women to talk about this kind of stuff with and realize you are not alone! PS: You are absolutely adorable and I honestsly did not even SEE a belly on you AT ALL!!! :)I think a lot of the time it's all in our heads, at least that's what my Husband always tells me. :)

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  9. Oh Milla, as someone who has had the pleasure of being in your wonderful presence, believe it when I say that YOU are one of the most gorgeous womyn I have ever seen in real life. It’s true, and I think I may have even actually stated that to Lucas at one point, perhaps even worrying him a little, haha!

    As for myself, I’m definitely guilty of only posting the better pictures… I’m capable of some pretty awful ones. This you probably already know from having taken pictures of me during our visit. But that’s the die-hard perfectionist in me I guess. Maybe I need to loosen up a bit in that regard.

    Other than a few awkward teen years when I felt too skinny and flat-chested, I’ve always had a pretty positive body image. Not to say that that isn’t largely due to the fact that I naturally have a metabolism and body type that society tends to idealize. It’s not something that I’ve ever had to work for, so I can’t say that I’d have the same body image otherwise, I just don’t know.

    My self-image struggles have always been more inwardly than outwardly focused… things like growing up painfully shy and wishing I was more outgoing. We all have our things I guess. I think as we get older though it becomes increasingly easier to be at peace with who we are both inwardly and outwardly. There’s a sense of acceptance that comes along with the wrinkles and the gray hairs, so thank goodness for that.

    I’m so glad that I could have a little something to do with that surprise package from Andrea finding it’s way to you, even if the cardi she gave you did bump mine, haha! And I’m glad that the dress I sent (which is adorable on you, little belly and all, btw) had something to do with inspiring such a beautifully honest post which is obviously touching your readers in a big way.

    You are a true beauty Milla, both inside and out and such an inspiration. I feel blessed to call you my friend. Ok, now I might be blushing ;)

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  10. Hello again, I found the article I commented on about why women have a slight pooch in their bellies. It's written by Sue Baelen, a licensed Midwife. The article is called "We have curves for a reason" She writes that "Women's bodies are soft and round for a reason. Our hips widen to give birth, and what we call the pooch-the slight roundness of the belly-stores needed estrogen. We've been poisoning ourselves with unrealistic images for so long that we see these parts as liabilities. But we can create life! So I want all of us, pregnant or not, to embrace the changes our bodies undergo as a part of the natural order of things."
    Isn't that awesome! So just think of this article when you are feeling yucky about your body. I have always been thin, but have had a small belly since my mid 20s, and have always hated it. But now I just try and think of this article, and remember that I am healthy and strong, I am at a healthy, normal, weight, and that my softness is a natural part of being a woman. I hope this helps!
    Keep up the awesome blogging!

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  11. man i love your posts!

    it's funny you should mention all this, because this morning when i was getting my post all ready to publish, i felt like my legs looked big in my photos. and like you i considered not posting them. in the end, i did. and i was happy about it.

    since having three children, i've had to just except certain "body flaws". at first it was extremely hard, but over the years i've learned to embrace them and love my more womanly/motherly body. stretch marks, sagging, loose skin...i've got 'em all. i hate it when i get sucked in to the whole image thing. i've noticed i'm happiest with my appearance when i don't obsess over it. when i care about my body because i want to treat it with respect, not because i think i should be a certain weight or look a certain way.

    cheers to you for posting the pics and writing yet another thought provoking post. you rule! let us all love ourselves as we are, "flaws" and all!!! :D

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  12. way to go for bringing this out in the open and creating such a great discussion. it's sometimes such a hard subject to tackle.
    so here goes with my story. i was always big for my age growing up (height and weight.) my body hasn't changed too much since i was a teenager. all through my school years my appearance was the subject of many jokes and negative comments. i pretty much learned to stick to myself and pretend i didn't care. but i did, and it hurt real real bad. now i'm 27 and i feel alot better about myself, inside and out. daily i fight the tendency to look at my appearance with a critical eye. it sucks and i, like some of the other women on here, know that these kind of thoughts don't make sense and are undfounded and ridiculous. but they persevere, and i keep fighting, and i'm still here. my BMI also falls into the healthy category. but still the knowing and the feeling aren't always on the same page. it helps tremendously that i am currently with someone who makes me feel beautiful. so much of my happiness depends on that person. i try not to let it be that way, i know its unwise to let my happiness depend on others perceptions of me or feelings for me. but again the kowing and the feeling aren't always on the same page.
    but you and all these lovely ladies who commented have helped me not to feel alone, and this is something that is good to be reminded of once in a while. we women have to build each other up and be there for each other instead of tearing each other down as seems to be the common way in so much that i see.
    great post and i look forward to reading more.
    hope everyone has a positive day :)

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  13. I’m glad you posted this, and also glad you also posted you know you’re not the dreaded f-word: fat. I don’t know any woman that does not have issues with her body, and really how can you not as a girl being constantly bombarded with imaged of airbrushed clothes hangers. I think that these blogs that women write that showcase their style and their own clothes and how they make real fashion choices are a powerful message to other women. In my opinion fashion blogs are taking a heavily manufactured image of what a girl/woman looks like and putting it back in the hands of the girls/women themselves. I have gotten so inspired seeing how real people style themselves, and what they have to say about those choices…their choices. I have also gotten uplifted to see real women, beautiful, diverse women who do not fit into the same sample size wearing clothes from everywhere in the world. I don’t want to bash model sizes, skinny girls are lovely, curves are lovely as well, but personally I am so tired of seeing models in clothes I feel like my eyes could start bleeding from boredom. Good for you for posting a photo of yourself you didn’t love; it’s a positive message of truth that you are sending out in the universe. We are not all here to be models.

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  14. Oh, Milla, my most recent thoughts regarding body image have been about my daughter, she's only 2 and I will always see her as beautiful, but I know she will not always agree with me on this; and that gives me great heartache. I'm 33 now and survived the "I'm fat" virus of my late teens and early 20s, and then the changes that occured after having my babies. It seemed so dire back then...devastating to put on "weight" no matter what i actually looked like; those tiny numbers looked so large. It might surprise you to know that NZ and Australian women have apparently evolved to have wider bone structure in our general torso, hip and pelvic area- wider than our Northern Hemisphere counterparts. This is supposedly due to our outdoor lifestyle. I don't know how valid that info is, i remember reading it somewhere some time ago. As to weight issues now? I guess I don't like how it feels when I've been eating junk for a couple of weeks, but I generally won't hop on the scales to prove it. I just go out for a few more walks, and cut down on my wine intake for a week or two. I don't diet, it doesn't work, and makes you feel like you've something to be guilty about. I have different things to worry about, my son just pooped in the bath, as in just now. Seeya later womyn. (What did you think of The Handmaids Tale?)

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  15. oh and i forgot to say, that yes, sometimes i do feel ugly; but always wierdly optimistic that in a few days the planets will align in my favour and I won't feel ugly again. (And then I don't) Thx for writing such a truthful post.

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  16. Most of us have body image problems. So of course there are things I dislike about my body. I've got wide shoulders, and a not so narrow waist. Sometimes I catch myself getting nervous about weight. Which is dumb because even though I'm not *skinny* I'm not fat either. Those spindly, breakable images presented in the media are unrealistic. It's the real life females with real life bodies that represent true beauty. The way I see it is, I was born this way, big shoulders and all. This is how nature intended me to look and in my own unique fashion, I'm beautiful. It's such a cliche, but really and truly, everyone is beautiful in their own way. Instead of embracing unrealistic expectations, people should be celebrating what makes them lovely and unique.

    I read your blog all the time, by the way. Thank you for such an inspirational post :)

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  17. First of all, that dress you are wearing looks great on you. You have the perfect body type for vintage dresses.

    As for body issues, ten pounds has a tendency to make me think unpleasant things about my body as well. Even though nobody really notices when my weight fluctuates (except me), I tend to feel just terrible about it. Mostly I hate when my clothes get too tight and I am uncomfortable.

    Though, we are conditioned to believe that a few extra pounds amounts to some kind of failure, especially as women. I know I am loathe to post photos of myself with tights that have bunched up to give the appearance of a little gut, etc. Though, when I see other people who are far heavier than me I rarely think they look terrible or fat or are some kind of huge failures at life. A complicated issue, it is.

    I just recently discovered your blog and I really enjoy it!

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  18. First off, you are beautiful!! I am so glad you know you are not fat. ;) thank you for posting the pictures and talking with us about this. After gaining 6 pounds while on steroids last month (for a lingering chest infection) I am also struggling with what to do about the extra pounds. But I must admit, prior to this I had been comfortable in my body for 2.5 full years for the first time in my life and it was really really nice. I remember at 9 years old thinking I was fat, it was ridiculous.

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  19. Okay, how much do I love this post? And I love it even more because you decided the post the pictures - in which you look as beautiful as ever.

    I have done my share of disliking my body, trying to hide it, being ashamed of it, and regardless of my body resembling the ones I see in fashion magazines, the real world is far away from the world the fashion industry wants us to see. Actually, perhaps I will take that back. Maybe it is just one single world out there, the one that wants us to NOT love ourselves and our bodies, regardless of whether we are skinny or fat. It is not just fashion. It is us. It is the school nurse telling you that you don't look right, it is your 6-year-old nephew asking you why your arms are so skinny, or your mother who told you you looked bad in black. Our society teaches us to hate our bodies from the start, because nothing is good enough, and our feminist friends make us feel embarrased to even be thinking about our bodies and inadequacies in the first place. But we do think about our bodies. That is just the way we are.

    Thank you for sharing this, and I am sending you a big virtual hug, because you are amazing.

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  20. I think that the concerns you raised here are SO very common. Perhaps one reason I don't post that many pictures of myself from the neck down on my blog is my own insecurities about weight [and also age, but that's a whole other story]. But, also, I decided a while back that I wanted to focus on the mind-aspect of my blog more [even when talking about fashion], so I only occasionally post personal photos. I have my good days and my bad days when it comes to my body, and strangely, even though my body doesn't look as thin as it did 10 years ago, I'm somehow more OK with it these days. I think that comfort just comes from getting older. It is so hard to watch your body change, and that might be what you are going through right now. I look at pictures of myself a few years ago when I started gaining some pounds and I look so awkward, but I weigh the same now and look and feel more confident. Maybe it was just a matter of growing into my own new skin. Also, I'm much more aware of eating healthy and exercising, so I feel like "so what" if I'm not as skinny as I used to be -- I'm healthier! I have also noticed a change in the way I dress based on my body image, which I think can be the hardest part. I see things I wish I could wear but realize it probably wouldn't be the most flattering option...which can suck when you love fashion like I do! All said, I have come to realize that body-image worries are a common [and sad] occurrence among all types and sizes of women. All we can really do is what is best for us -- take care of ourselves and never, ever pressure ourselves to be who were in the past or to be another person entirely. That is just a recipe for disaster!

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  21. Oh Milla! I love that you posted the pictures even though you felt you didn't look your "best" or whatever. I really, really hate the body fascism that is everywhere, not just the fashion business. It's in health care too and in practically everyone's head... I have been really skinny due to Crohn's disease, and it was weird to gain so much weight during my pregnancy.. But really, I have been healthy for over two years now which is so great, and I have learned to like my new curvier shape, though it annoys me that my clothes seem to never fit, firts the pregnancy and then the the baby weight has slowly come off (without any effort on my part I might add, I decided I was not going to diet). I still have around ten pounds (and my waist is 10 cm wider!) but I couldn't care less if I get to keep them. :D
    You look lovely as ever.. It's so refreshing to see people who fight against the societal pressure to be thin--- please don't let it get to you!! Hugs!

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  22. Oh Milla! I love that you posted the pictures even though you felt you didn't look your "best" or whatever. I really, really hate the body fascism that is everywhere, not just the fashion business. It's in health care too and in practically everyone's head... I have been really skinny due to Crohn's disease, and it was weird to gain so much weight during my pregnancy.. But really, I have been healthy for over two years now which is so great, and I have learned to like my new curvier shape, though it annoys me that my clothes seem to never fit, firts the pregnancy and then the the baby weight has slowly come off (without any effort on my part I might add, I decided I was not going to diet). I still have around ten pounds (and my waist is 10 cm wider!) but I couldn't care less if I get to keep them. :D
    You look lovely as ever.. It's so refreshing to see people who fight against the societal pressure to be thin--- please don't let it get to you!! Hugs!

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  23. first off, you look beautiful. now, i am pretty new to your blog, but it seems that you've been relatively recently reunited with your husband, right, moving to the u.s.?

    i know that for myself, i started gaining a bit of weight when i first started going out with my boyfriend. without knowing you at all, just my guess, is that if you feel that you have gained a tad, it's probably because you are happy! i eat more when i am happy and i eat more when i am with my bf and we are going out to dinner, indulging in desserts, he buys me food based treats, etc...we have been together 6 yrs almost now, and while i am not fat per se, i weigh more now probably than ever before. but i am happy. :) hope this makes sense. i am not at my most eloquent today.

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  24. Where I live, amongst people who are somewhat alternative-ish (so I have no idea if this is the cultural norm now or not but somehow I doubt it looking at the hollywood mags in the check-out) the teenage girls, many of them, have bellies. Not "overweight" type of bellies but teenage-girls-almost-women bellies. And here's the thing -- they own it. They wear things that showcase the bump in front right along with the bump in back (and the two bumps on top.) It gives me so much joy to see.

    When I was young I looked like them. There was a time, in fact, in which I tortured myself with diet and exercise, and yet I still had that damn abdominal bump. I was so thin otherwise that it was assumed that I was pregnant. But that was because back then the belly bump was a shameful thing, so any self-respecting woman would do everything she could to hide or disguise it. Among my age group, here, that's still true, that is for those who can. I no longer can so I've had to make peace with the fact that women come in all shapes and an incredibly common one is bumpy, in the breasts, in the butt, in the belly, in the thighs. Wish I'd made peace with it long ago, I wouldn't have wasted so much time being unhappy.

    The truth is though that I've never been unhappy with my body in itself. The only reason I've ever wanted to change it was for the approval and admiration of others. Well, and so I could spend my days not ever once thinking about how my body is perceived as wrong -- what heaven there must be in that freeness! I get angry that it's been denied me, and then look for ways to subvert that perspective. I refuse to attempt to acquiesce to it anymore.

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