Fashion Photographer in New York City


How Gaining Weight Changed My Perception Of Body Image

body image

Getting dressed today I caught myself thinking these most degrading thoughts that are whether my body is good enough. 

Here I am, putting on my high-waisted skinny jeans, trying not to catch my reflection in a mirror when I sit down to put my shirt on. Then finally looking up and reading in my eyes this agony of different kinds of emotions.

Ok, it's not a line from some cheesy novel, here's what actually happens:

I am getting sad, then my face transforms into a strong-and-independent-woman mask, then anxious, then I bend my head like one does when they see a killer jacket for a good price and think hmm, you're cool, I'll take you.

This dialogue with the mirror has followed me throughout my whole life, from the time I started caring about how I look. Or maybe from the time I was told: "you need to suck in your stomach when you stand, you will get used to it, see, I do it all the time." Thanks, Mom.

What you actually get used to is looking at yourself through the prism of "what is wrong with me." No matter what my weight is, whether it's 55kilo (121lb) or 47kilo (103lb), it is always there.

Worrying about the presence is not something that naturally occurs to you. It is a man-made product of our society and you are an obedient consumer who learned to follow it in order to be likable. However, if you are talking about our bodies from the perspective of whether it is well enough to live a healthy life, it comes down to a very simple idea - you either have a balanced body or you don't. And you either should keep taking care of your body, or learn how to, or you choose not to.

There is no doctor who will tell you that you need to have six packs to stay alive, but that you need to exercise. No doctor will tell you that you need a thigh gap to treat a migraine, but to eat healthily. No doctor will tell you to go starve yourself to overcome a psychic trauma, but to work it through with a therapist. You get where I'm going. 

My 18-year-old cousin is a very slim, beautiful, smart young girl, and I sometimes hear phrases like "summer body" or a sarcastic "diet didn't work" accompanied by a picture of a piece of cake. I get chills. I recognize my own way of thinking in it, I hear our family conversations that could've led to it, I know that that's what she sees on every Instagram page, every TV Show. I understand where it's coming from, but I can't stand it. I want to explain that she doesn't need a seasonal body, that she needs to take care of the one she has. I try to convince her that pizza and cake at 11 pm on a regular basis doesn't need to be substituted with a diet, it needs to be eliminated so her pancreas won't give her a hard time anymore. 

It takes a lot of work to go against your old habits, against media and your surroundings, to start loving your body the way it is, to not compete with anyone (even with your previous self), to see beauty in someone but not lessen your own. But I believe you owe it to yourself because, at the end of the day, you are nothing without this relationship with your own self. To establish it, you need to be a little more empathetic, a little more listening, more curious. And at least once, take yourself out of dogma and be brutally honest about how you feel, how strong your health is, and ask if our lifestyle nurtures us or ruins us. Put it all on a scale and see what's more important, beating yourself up about not being good enough, or being responsible for your happiness despite any factors that tend to limit it. Even if one of those factors is that super-IG-model who has muscles like Arnold Schwarzenegger and drinks green juices in a down-dog pose and runs a couple of million dollars in revenue business and this business is named after one of her favorite streets in Paris and has a millennial pink Instagram theme and who makes you sick just by looking at her Stories.

In my case, transitions that I went through these past 2 years really showed me that my personality is not affected by the numbers on the scales, that eating rich on nutrients meals 3 times a day is something very important but also enjoyable. Living in the skinniest body possible and coming back to my normal shape also taught me that I have to build my own happiness for myself, no one else is responsible for it, I have to love myself on every stage of life, otherwise, it will be wasted.

Now it's my goal to help change the way people think of beauty and body image. If you think this article can be helpful for someone, please share it. I will be endlessly grateful and, hopefully, we together will be able to make the world a better place.