xesce december 2002

Height: approx. 5' 4"

Weight my body seems to prefer: 115-120 lbs [2007 update]

Desired Weight: not sure - somewhere from 90-98 lbs*

Do I have a distorted body image?

This photo makes me feel pretty exposed and vulnerable. I realize I probably look like a reasonably 'healthy' 36-year-old woman in this photo, but my body here doesn't represent my esthetic ideal for myself.

I'm average height - 5' 4". What would you guess I weigh in the photo? My weight when the photo was taken was approx. 106-7 lbs, my measurements were 33.5" X 23.5" X 33.5", and I had been working out for 3 months, the last 4 weeks for about 3 hours per day. My guess is that most people would guess I weighed more than I did, and that people would actually think I have issues with being truthful about my weight and body dimensions. But, what if I'm not actually out of touch with reality? Wouldn't that play with my perceptions of myself? Wouldn't it make sense that I might have a weird idea about myself? When I saw the above photo, I was shocked because at the time I thought I seemed a lot thinner. I immediately felt despair, and felt that I'd have to lose even more weight than I originally thought.

When I'm actually technically underweight, people often tend to think I look fit and healthy. Perhaps the current medical standards are off when it comes to my body - perhaps for my frame they are too generous. I think that my body issues partly stem from the way my body appears, both to me and to others. In order to look small, I have to be significantly lower weight than most people. But, I can also see that my frame is not going to change with weightloss, so it seems impossible for me to have the kind of look I'd like. It seems the best I can do is to try to make myself as small as possible, try to choose clothes that flatter me, etc. It seems unfair that I have such a small peanut of a head, which only seems to add to the illusion that my body is bigger than it is. And that to top that off, my face is long and narrow when my body frame is relatively broad across the front and back. It seems like I need to lose weight just to make my head appear normal size.

My memory will often hold onto info about what I wore and what weight I was the last time I saw almost everyone. In certain clothes, I can look significantly thinner, and some people have wondered if I'd lost a lot of weight since the last time I saw them - even when I know I hadn't. But choosing clothes that flatter my body takes a lot of effort on my part, and most of the time I can't cope with clothes shopping. When I shop I usually try to get what energy I can together, and brace myself and shop all in one day, getting as much as I can to last probably the next few years. Some clothes can make me look very large even when I'm reasonably thin according to medical standards. Sometimes from some angles I can look thin in little or no clothing even when I'm not at my lowest weight. It's confusing, and plays with my mind.

Individual body types vary so much. The problem about perception is such a difficult, insidious one. Even when I work my fucking ass off, I'm embarrassed to admit it because I feel ashamed that my results aren't more impressive.

I don't resent the beautiful women I see. I love watching them, looking at them.

It's not like my value system is so out of whack that I don't notice other beautiful qualities in women, or in people. I don't know. I just don't know how not to be obsessed with trying to express myself through my appearance.

*The weight I have listed is what I guessed I would need to weigh if filmed (if I filmed myself dancing), and assumes a high fitness level at the time. I am adding this comment a few years later (February 2008 - this page was originally composed in late 2004), and feel uncomfortable with leaving my original statement unqualified. I do not usually think in terms of daily life, and so choosing a weight that I'd be ok with in those terms is difficult. In warm weather, I think I would feel reasonably comfortable at 100-105 lbs, in colder weather probably even 105-110 might be ok. But, fitness at a low weight is also important. At a higher weight, a higher level of fitness does not really compensate for the feeling that I would still wish to be smaller. As I get older, I feel less extreme about it, maybe, but the original issue of not feeling 'like myself' when my weight is higher than I want is very difficult to change. The numbers I have chosen relate to my own body and its quirks, and I would not think of them as universal numbers for everyone of my height.