Being a member of the MPC Prep Program, I have read many accounts of women struggling with their weight and body image. The reason why I am writing this post is because my experience is different but still similar to those ones detailed by women struggling with extra weight. The truth is that society dictates how a woman should look and behave.
As humans, we have a tendency to compare ourselves with others physically. We always want what we do not have. In my case, I have always been obsessed with blue eyes and blond hair. In fact, the recessive genes associated with these physical characteristics run in my family. My great grandmother from mother’s side used to be tall with blond hair and blue eyes. Some of my cousins are blond even though they have brown eyes. Both of my boys are blond. One of them with blue eyes and the other one with brown eyes. I guess part of my obsession with that colouring is related to the fact that it is not typical in my native country. I hate my hair. It is curly, unruly, frizzy and shapeless. It only looks nice when it is blow-dried. My boys inherited the same hair.
Ugly, ugly, ugly ……
As a teenager I heard plenty of negative things about my appearance (not from my family members).
- Unnatural nose (aka. the result of cosmetic surgery)
In regards to being ugly, everybody is welcomed to have their own opinions. About being malnourished, I was never a size 0 or a size 2. I was a size 4 with a small weight of 107 pounds until the age of 25. Nowadays, I am mostly a size 6 and sometimes a size 4. The truth is that there is no much difference in inches between sizes 4 and 6. In my late 20s my body developed an hourglass shape. Yup! My body became less “straight”. Furthermore, the fact that I was a size 4 with a weight of 107 pounds demonstrates that I always tended to store more fat on my hip area and glutes (and this is a major struggle up to this day). Regarding my nose, the shape of it is present in many members of my mother’s family. It is a natural nose. Was I flat-chested? I used to be 32A. Nowadays, I am 34B. Being “flat-chested” never bothered me. I used to wear whatever I wanted in my upper body (and I still do).
One lesson that I learned about being a size 4 with a small weight is that sizes are not a good indicator of body weight. A dress size is more associated with body type.
The “malnourished” duck
I was not malnourished. In my teens and twenties, I could eat basically everything that I wanted. I never worried about gaining weight. What bothers me about those comments is that terms such as “malnourished” or “anorexic” are offensive, especially if the person being criticized eats properly. It is similar to calling somebody “fat”. I was just blessed with an excellent metabolism, and I still have it even though I watch now what I eat. The last time I was reminded about my “malnourished” body, I was 32. The lady told me that I looked better in my 30s since I looked “unhealthy” in my twenties.
Sofia Vergara Vs. Kate Moss
When I moved to North America, I was seventeen. It was in the 90s and Kate Moss was popular (I think she is pretty). Models with a similar body type were desirable. I was lean, a “desirable” size 4. However, my body type was not something that the fashion industry would have considered acceptable back then (and even today). I tend to store fat in a not visible area unless I am wearing jeans or a body-conscious dress: hips and glutes. My thighs are toned with minimal fat, but they are “meaty.” Do I like it? No. My waist and hip measurements are very similar to those that Sofia Vergara has. Her measurements in inches are 37-28-38, and mine are 34-28-37. This is the main reason why I hardly ever post pictures showing my body from the side or from the back.
Since I consider myself a “girly” tomboy, all my life I have been paying attention to fashion trends. The fact that many models did / do not exhibit my body type and my Mediterranean colouring affected the way I perceived my body. I dreamed for many years of having an operation to have the extra “meatiness” reduced. Back in the days when I used to work, I was careful with my choice of clothing. I like the look of pencil skirts. However, every time that I tried one, I was never happy with the results. I was concerned that it would never be the proper attire for work. I still have the same concern. I ask myself often, “is it proper?” Last summer while trying a dress in Europe, the store owner even patted my backside, and told me, “this is cute.” Of course, when my husband heard about this, he just laughed comparing European people to North Americans: “you never see employees in Nordstrom doing that to people.”
Eventually my perception of having “extra meatiness” changed, especially after meeting my husband. He thinks that women should not be extremely lean (models do not attract him even though he agrees that some of them have pretty faces). According to him, women should be toned but store fat in certain “areas,” mainly in the lower body. Based on his opinions, it seems that everything that ranges between sizes 4 and 8 is acceptable.
I grew up with brothers and many male cousins. I have become familiar with their preferences. They simply like Sofia Vergara. In my trips to Europe, I have become aware that my husband’s cousins share similar preferences (add Jennifer Lopez, Esme Bianco, Kate Upton, Dita Von Teese and Cindy Crawford to the list). I tend to think that this fascination that men have with an hourglass shape is associated with fertility (big-hips-are-good-for-childbearing mindset). However, there are exceptions. In my last job, there was a young gentleman who was attracted to lean, model-like body types but not tall (I heard this from my brother who used to work with me).
As I have grown older and become more mature, I have realized that my body is secondary to other aspects of my life. I have learned to accept who I am with all my imperfections. Eating properly and exercising have allowed me to accept them, but they have allowed me to challenge myself in other areas where my intellectual skills could be applied. The main message is that when you feel uncomfortable about your body, just take a look at what you have achieved so far in your life. You would realize that you are a bright and gifted individual. Keep in mind that everybody is different, and genes play a role in determining where you store the fat.
Final note: When the character played by Esme Bianco was killed in Game of Thrones, my husband could not accept the fact that the most beautiful actress in the show was gone (he was just joking).