Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I'm not sure what stinks worse...

In one of my favorite of many highly regarded Seinfeld episodes, Elaine and Jerry jump into Jerry's newly cleaned car only to find out the car has toxic B.O. left there by one of the car wash workers. The B.O. then attaches itself to everything in its path--Elaine's hair, in particular. The whole episode features the two characters in various attempts to rid themselves of the body odor stench in one way or another, to no avail. In the end, Jerry chooses to just ditch his new car--openly waving keys and leaving them in the car in a bad neighborhood in the hopes that a thief would take the stinky auto off their hands.

Body odor can really be a bitch, apparently.

But, what about B.I.? To clarify, by B.I. I'm thinking body image. You know, the way you view yourself in your own skin, warts and all?

So, my question is, why do some of us suffer the smothering cloak of bad B.I. and others feel just find in their own shoes? What makes a person have this unhappy image of themselves? And, without drastic measures or an extreme makeover, can "bad B.I." be reversed? Or are those who have B.I. condemned to its stench, just as Jerry was to his odoriferous car?

I have bad B.I., I'll admit it. I look back at pictures of myself in high school and college and marvel at how thin I was. Then, I remember how even at that size I constantly worried and obsessed about how fat I was in my eyes.

Although, today I can look at my body and see areas that I do like. I have strong legs and they are decent looking. When I've been working out, I am pleased with the power in my shoulders. I like being a little taller (5'8), but not amazon-like. I have a "rack" that is all my own and not a 2K doctor's job. I don't have "junk in my trunk," and I like it that way. My truck is just right. I am curvy, and that's not a concern to me.

But, my issues start just below the shoulders and end right about the hipbones. My torso is my mortal enemy... both with my bad B.I. and with my health problems (diabetes).

I didn't realize how bad my B.I. had really progressed, until the other day. I noticed in my workout class how many of the regulars were positioning themselves near the mirrors and watching their reflections on each exercise. I was puzzled by this. Were they just looking at their form? Or did they really just like looking at themselves in the mirror that much--which seemed unthinkable to me, based on my image?

And, then I realized that most days when I work out, I keep my eyes fixed either on the instructor, or at the floor 6-10 feet in front of me, never looking up at myself at all. And, it became obvious to me that this was not normal.

So, I gave myself a trial run, making sure my step was lined up where I had full view of the front and side mirrors. And, I began a rather basic and less challenging step class, while watching my own body move in the mirror. Instantly, I had quick flashes of being proud of myself for sticking with it, the muscles in my hamstrings that have been prominent since my long distance running days, and so forth.

But, almost as quickly as these positive thoughts emerged, they were smothered by my bad B.I. I began to scan the room and compare. "Yep, that girl's smaller than you in the waist. So, is that one. So, is that one." And, in a panic I realized that based on my midsection I was, in fact, the largest person in this class. And, then I start to feel like throwing up right there on my cross trainers.

It wasn't that my class was filled with perfect bodies, by any means. There were tons of people with thick legs, larger butts, and cellulite on their thighs--none of which I have. But, no one else had as big of a gut/midsection as I did. And, so I could not see past that to anything postive for the rest of the class.

I cannot relay how badly this hit me after this realization--I have a serious problem with my body image (B.I.) and I don't know how to repair it. Is bad B.I. something we can ever rid ourselves of? Or will I be forced, like Jerry and Elaine, after many attempts to rid myself of its stench, just to leave myself out there...in the wind, hoping that someone else will take away my problem instead?

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Blogger speedygeoff said...

So, "Comparisons are Odious". Obviously. Or is that what you were saying. Oh, I will get out of the way then.

7:59 AM, August 01, 2007  
Blogger sophie said...

Our culture is such a set up for this. I am pretty comfortable in my own body--though I readily admit I wish there were about 40 pounds less of me. It is so easy to let a moment of "oh shit, how did I gain all this weight?" overtake the basically good feelings I have for myself. All I can say is that you are not required to care what others look like or compare in the mirror. The fact that you are at the gym impresses me.

Focus on the legs and the other beauty.

11:03 AM, August 02, 2007  
Blogger Carol said...

I could've writtent this post. I feel the same way and have caught myself in the gym mirrors and gasped! Compared myself to others in the class and just hated the whole thing. It almost causes you to not want to work out...which is just stupid and certainly doesn't fix a thing.

i did my thesis on this issue...unfortunately 90% of women have distorted views of their body. Or to put it another way - it's normal to think abnormally.

You are not alone, but I know that doesn't make it any better.

10:09 PM, August 02, 2007  
Blogger Aunt Vanessa said...

No, you are not alone. Most, or a lot, of us feel the same way about our wretched bodies. However, after I turned 40 I started caring a little less and now that I'm 45, I don't worry about my BI at all. I think I finally realized that there wasn't a whole lot I could do about it and started concentrating on other things.

12:57 PM, August 03, 2007  
Anonymous Kate said...

Society stinks. I know what you mean. I picked a favorite part of my body and if I get disappointed with one part I can say "Ah ha! but look at that in the mirror!"

5:41 PM, August 04, 2007  
Anonymous Niihaus said...

Well I'm medicated. So I love my B.I. ha!

There's a great book I'm reading right now called The Secret, it also comes with a DVD - it awesomely covers this subject. I'm just raving about it, and I hardly ever rave.

1:12 PM, August 05, 2007  

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