Body Acceptance

Taken from a talk given at CWRU in the spring of 2002 by Donna & Alan.

Donna is the speaker.

Speaking personally about body acceptance, I have to look back over the years to the evolution of a much more accepting person.

During my years of puberty I was extremely self conscious of my body. I developed early and much ado was made (by family, friends and strangers as well) of my size 38 breasts, with a small waist and large hips. I somehow connected being curvaceous with being sexy and attractive and felt my body was the measure of my worth.

I was a good student and succeeded in completing college. Throughout my teen years I struggled with "diet" and exercise to live up to a desirable image (as dictated by magazines, movies and all types of media). I always felt that the main reason a woman was attractive, or even socially acceptable, was to have a "normal" body (whatever that was), and there was a delicate balance between being curvaceous, and being fat. If I gained weight, I found myself feeling worthless, unattractive and unacceptable.

Over a period of 30 years I submitted myself to a variety of methods to maintain what I thought to be an acceptable figure. I went on numerous diets, varying from well balanced healthy diets to low fat, 500 calories, or protein only diets. I took pills, joined weight groups, saw weight doctors for shots, had hypnotherapy, acupuncture and even went to extreme surgical measures. No matter how successful I was as a teacher, mother and wife, I always felt somehow short of the mark.

When I reached 50, I began to question the validity of this reasoning. As I experienced social nudity for the first time, I found the measure of my worth was not in my body. I enjoyed the feeling of swimming, walking, riding a bicycle and many other everyday activities in the sunshine and fresh air…but there was more. I came to accept the various states of the bodies of others (thin, fat, aging, wrinkled, having cellulite or stretch marks, scars and shortcomings of all kinds). I began the process of accepting these in myself, and acknowledging that this was not all there was to my worth.