My Aging Body Image

I sit at the public pool, it’s Ladies Night, and I’m surrounded by women I know. One of them is a school teacher who tells us about a body image lesson she is teaching her class. She tells us the average sized woman is five foot, four inches tall. The average weight is one hundred and forty pounds and wears a size fourteen in US women’s clothing. My first reaction is to compare myself to those measurements.

I’m five foot, five inches, but I’m heavier than one hundred and forty pounds.

Her class talks about Barbie and how horrible of a role model she is for body dimensions. She shows her class a picture of an artist who made Barbie life size. The sculpture’s waist small, her breasts so big she’d topple over. When I looked up the pictures I was surprised to see such an attractive artist standing next to the sculpture. This beautiful woman feels the need to point out how unattainable the image of a plastic doll truly is. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Summer is just starting where I live, and the dreaded bathing suit season has arrived. Thank you, Amazon for allowing me to order twenty suits to try in the comfort of my own home. As a matter of fact, while I’m already on the computer, scrutinizing every dimple in my ass, I’ll go ahead and search before and after pictures of breasts lifts and tummy tucks. Wow, those are some amazing results. Just think what I could look like for nine thousand dollars.

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“Love your body!” Is what I hear, over and over again. The message makes me ashamed that I can’t appreciate all my body has done for me over the years. I’ve given birth to three children. I live an active lifestyle full of hiking, gardening, trips to the beach, and other good times. I pay one hundred and twenty dollars to go to the gym, and I actually go a few times a week.

My stomach is deflated, it’s wrinkled and saggy. Once perky breasts from my younger years are sad and I have a hard time keeping them in a swimsuit. There’s no filling to them, I’m embarrassed to say the truth. Skin bags is what they remind me of. Hence the hatred of swimsuit shopping.

I want my body to look good, so I take steps to do that. However, it will never be like it once was. I’m not after Barbie, I’m after my youth. It’s gone, fading faster every year. My anxiety has a way of reminding me of this, over and over again. I can’t force my body back in time no matter how much I work out or curb my eating habits.

“Love your body!”

Please be quiet, I hear you. I really do. It’s the salty mix of losing my youth and seeing how my body responds that leaves me defeated, sad, and hating the naked image of myself in the mirror. It’s okay to be sad sometimes, we can’t be happy all the time. That would be a lot of pressure.

Every bathing suit season from now until I die will probably lead me down the same path.

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Melisa Peterson Lewis is a writer, blogger, book reviewer, gardener, and stay home parent. You can follow here on at Fingers to Sky Instagram. Facebook.

Images from Pixabay.

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9 Replies to “My Aging Body Image”

  1. Wow, I’m 5 feet four inches tall, so I am average height. My shoe size is a 5 and a half adult but I mostly wear kids shoes. My BMI is 20.9 which is normal for my height but I DO NOT have a bikini body. All of my excess fat is in my abdomen and back which frustrates me so much. At the end of the day, weight is literally just a number.

  2. Shoe size 14?? That’s huge!

    Thanks to childbirth, I’ve been all over the scale and sagginess. 🙂 You can really work on your body with a regular, focused exercise and diet regimen ….but everyone’s skin and appendages will sag. You gotta take it or nip and tuck it. May as well save 9 thousand and take it, right?

    1. Yeah, I think the shoe size 14 is wrong – Women’s size 11 is almost a foot long. A 14 is not proportional at all to a 5’4″ woman’s body. I wonder if the shoe size is a 7?

      1. I’d hope so. I’m size 10-11, and some brands don’t even make shoes that large. The 6’s to 8’s seem popular, though.

  3. I’m 5’4″. I weight 186.2 pounds (I weighed myself this morning). I wear a 7.5 wide (and by wide, I mean I might as well strap on some snowshoes my feet are so dang wide). My boobs have never, ever been perky. Not even when I was a young woman. I went from being flat chested to having BOOBs (I’m not kidding, my grandma grabbed them just like Andie’s grandma in Pretty in Pink, AND exclaimed to my entire family, “She got her breasts!”)

    I first lost a lot of weight because of my anxiety and depression. I went from 150 down to 120 in two months. I was so sick. My hair was falling out. I had all these skin issues. I was basically anorexic but not because I thought I was fat. I just thought I would die eating our college food. Nope, I’m not lying.

    Then I got depressed, not anxious, and I gained all the weight, plus, back. I was 185 when I got married at 22. I’m 44. I weigh a 1.2 pounds more than I did the day I got married. I’m so happy. I’m really excited that maybe this time I’m going to lose the weight the right way. My goal is 140 pounds. I know what I look like at 120 and it’s not healthy.

    I’ll always have a girl pooch. I’ll never have perky boobs (unless I go in for surgery, which, no thank you). I’m grateful that with all the issues I deal with, that I don’t deal too much with body issues. I wear sleeveless shirts because I live in the South and it gets too hot here to wear any clothes, but I don’t wear swimsuits because I don’t want anyone to see everything. I’ll wear cut off jeans and a tank top and my bra if I go swim. Which is really rare.

    But I love to swim so hopefully I can get over that last shred of “eww my body is gross” so I can go swim!

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