My struggle with being comfortable with my body | Footnotes and Finds

Sunday, 24 April 2016

My struggle with being comfortable with my body

I was always uncomfortable with showing off my body. Even now I struggle with it, but I am beginning to become more comfortable, stereotypically, as I enter my late 20s. Things like having hair on my legs and wearing ankle pants no longer bother me as it used to when I was a teenager.

Being body conscious included finding clothing styles that hid certain parts of my body, meaning that I would wear over-sized and loose-fitting clothes that did nothing for my body-shape except make me look larger and broader (I have really broad shoulders, am curvy and 5'8"). Its not that I hated my body shape or that I hated the parts of the body I would try to hide, it was that I was not comfortable with showing my body and its curves. In comparison to my other 3 sisters, I am also the most conservative with my clothing choices in terms of showing off skin or body-shape.

This included not wearing shorts, or showing my legs even when I wore dresses, not wearing tank-tops or low-cut necks or fitted tops and I definitely never showed my butt or my inner-thighs. Spring was difficult but Summer was worse. To make things even worse I also get really bad in-grown hairs on my legs which cause scarring, so when I got comfortable with the idea of showing off my bare legs I was (and sometimes still am) conscious about the scars on my legs.

I guess the big missing piece is how did I become so body conscious? The first, is understanding that even though I am born and raised in Canada to very liberal and forward-thinking parents I remain to participate and be shaped by the South Asian diaspora, meaning that I am a supposed "Third Culture Kid" (the first culture being the one from my parent's country of origin, in this case India, the second culture being the one I am born in, in this case Canada, and the third culture being an amalgamation of the two). Like I stated before and I reiterate again, my parents are very liberal, but the term "liberal" is subjective. It took them a while to get used to a lot of concepts and to let go of a lot of cultural things that did not make sense for us to uphold. While my parents have never told me what I could and could not wear, we still operated in a micro-community of South Asians that held certain beliefs regarding  the female body and "appropriate" clothing and body language. So although this messaging did not occur in my own household, it happened at the temple, in the films, at family gatherings and other modes. This made me very conscious about my body. This was all on top of the unrealistic body expectations placed on girls and women by western media.

The second is understanding how my teenage years shaped my body confidence. When I was in grade 8 I was 5'6" and weighed 100 pounds. I was very skinny but I had always been so. That summer after a trip in India I contracted parasites, which meant that my body got used to eating large amounts without having any of it stick. Once I sorted it out my body wanted to continue eating at the same amounts, however, my metabolism wasn't fast enough. This meant that I gained around 10 pounds every year of high school ending up at 5'8" and 145 pounds. This is by no means an un-healthy weight but it was not something I was comfortable with. This is where I developed the ways in which to hide my body shape and parts of my I was uncomfortable with.

Fast forward about 10 years and I can say that I am finally getting to be comfortable with my body. I can now change in front of my sisters (something I never did even when they did), I have even started wearing more fitted clothes including crop tops and shorts. It was a matter of finding my own comfort level. I always feel good in knowing that I dress up for myself and this included makeup and everything else and if I am still not comfortable with it I am not going to be wearing it no matter how many people and who tells me that I look good in it. Getting comfortable in your own skin is a struggle for some, but once you get there for yourself and for the right reasons it doesn't matter what your body looks like because its about what you feel.

Jean top: Forever 21, similar here
Crop top: Forever 21, similar here
Trousers: H&M, similar here
Shoes: Urban Outfitters, similar here



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  3. I am so happy to read this post! It's great to know that you feel more comfortable with your body. I'm similar in the sense that I never wear clothes that reveal my arms and legs, but that's also part of my religion as much as it is my culture. I had never heard of the term "third culture kid" before, but I totally resonate. It's difficult navigating through all the different cultural expectations we first generation American/Canadians deal with. As for my feelings about my body, I've always marveled at why I'm so critical of mine when my mom has never been of hers or of me. But being Indian, it's hard to ignore the extended family and their constant reminders of how big and dark I used to be. I still struggle with body confidence, but it gets easier in time. I think when you're surrounded by people who encourage you and give positive comments, it's easier to tell the voices from the past still looming in your head to shut up. Sorry, I rambled there. Got lots to say on this topic!

    1. do not apologize for your ramblings! we want to have an open discussion regarding this topic and your thoughts are very important. You're very right about surrounding yourself with people that encourage you and provide positive reinforcement, it helps with creating a positive image of yourself. The South Asian expectations are on top of the western media ones that tend to set an ideal (for a lack of better words: white, thin, mostly blonde) that goes against learning to love our bodies and selves as South Asians. Again, thank you for your response :)

  4. What an open & honest post about something many people struggle with. With all the focus on six pack abs, big booties, full brows, & everything else, finding confidence within oneself is a constant battle due to the media & what's portrayed on social channels. Congratulations on your well deserved self love! :]

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read it, I really appreciate it. You're so right about media, its always been such an issue regarding female body positivity and setting unrealistic standards of beauty, somethings have begun to change but I feel more needs to be done.

  5. nice style and beautiful dress! great post, love it!

  6. Great post!
    Mademoiselle Coconath

  7. I think 99% of people are unhappy about something to do with their bodies. It's such a shame & it really makes you think, why?! Well I think it's a combination of reasons really; from unrealistic expectations placed on girls (and guys) and living in a society where we're constantly told we have to be perfect at everything.
    Personally my body issues are kind of different to yours. I've always been super slim but with that comes being totally flat chested. It's something I'm so self conscious of, I've literally had people say I have the body of a 12 year old, and it's so upsetting! like, I just wish we could all be happy & realise how lucky we are to be healthy and alive :/ xxx

    1. I think that a lot of people forget that being body conscious works both ways and that skinny people are often body shamed in a different way. I agree with you and I hope that we can all reach a point where we are happy with our bodies and grateful for being healthy and alive. Thank you for your comment as it raised a different point and brought to light the other side of the discussion!

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  9. I have gained a lot of weight over the last few years and it's made me very uncomfortable with my body, I don't blame anyone else for my weight gain aside from myself but I am now in a place where I can do something about it. Like you I wore things that made me look bigger than I am in an attempt to cover myself, why do we do this?! But now thanks to a few of the women I work with who are superbly fashion forward and love clothes I have started embracing more feminine clothes and wearing more colour and I have to be honest I have had nothing but positive comments and it's slowly helping me to feel better about myself. I am also going to a trainer now to try and kick start my weight loss.
    I am so glad to hear that you are now feeling more confident and more comfortable in your skin, weirdly in the late twenties early thirties a lot of how we feel seems to change. I'm really glad I stumbled across your blog, looking forward to reading more. :)

    1. Being uncomfortable in your body can be both due to a physical reason (as you expressed, gaining more weight than you are used to) or mental and both are equally troubling, because everything (your wardrobe, how you feel, how you act, what your conscious about etc) becomes defined by that discomfort which restricts your ability to live a good quality and healthy life.

      I am glad you have found the courage to start dressing in a way that makes you feel good and have chosen to do something about your discomfort by getting a trainer, many people never get to that point.

      Thank you for your wonderful comment :)


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