People who have known me as a teenager could tell you that I wasn’t always the most “in shape” kid on the block. Sure, I had a shape…kind of like a sphere. Which wasn’t exactly what I was going for.
I was a junior in high school when I finally did something about it. I joined the cross country team, trained for a marathon, changed my diet, and ended up losing 50 pounds. I may write more posts in the future on fitness and how to make/achieve goals, but today I wanted to talk a little about my self image.
See, it’s been 11 years since I lost the weight and I still think of myself as the fat younger brother.
It’s not like anybody ever made fun of me, and anytime I would call myself fat my family would deny it. It may not have even registered to most people that I was overweight. When people saw me they probably just saw “Denver.”
But inside our heads I feel we all have a picture of what we look like. It affects how we act, who we surround ourselves with, activities we get involved in, and the way we treat ourselves.
For most of my teenage years I’d look at my athletic older brother, then look at myself and get discouraged. I didn’t know much about body types at the time, but I knew I didn’t look like him and that was enough to bring me down.
Because I spent all that time comparing myself to others, and building this identity in my head as the fat younger brother, that is how I see myself. It’s been over a decade since I changed the way I look physically, but my mental image is still that spherical kid.
I won’t talk to certain people because I feel I don’t look good enough.
When people ask me to go swimming I am afraid of what they’ll think of my body.
I’ll get discouraged when I see my brother because I still don’t think I look as good as he does.
But all those feelings are based on this false image of what I look like. When I walk by a mirror and actually see my body there are times I’m legitimately surprised. I don’t see a distorted version of myself. Instead I see what I actually look like, and it’s not what I had in my head all day.
I’d been picturing myself as an overweight teenager, when the whole time I was a fit and healthy 27-year-old.
I understand it might be confusing for my friends to hear me call myself fat. It probably sounds weird that I haven’t been swimming in 9 years. But I haven’t figured out yet how to change the way I see myself.
When I look in the mirror I can see that I actually look pretty good. But as soon as I look away, and see you looking at me, I think you’re seeing the image I have in my head.
So if you hear me call myself fat you don’t need to point out the way you or anybody else looks in an attempt to make me feel better. I have a messed up idea of what I look like so pointing out somebody else doesn’t really help.
Maybe just take a picture of me and show me what I look like. A slap on the butt never hurt anybody either…