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Body Image.

What fits.Beauty benchmarks seem to be measured in what size pants you fit into and what designer hand bag you have draped over your rail-thin arm. 

This is the biggest bunch of crap I have ever heard.  In my life.

There's a lot of body image problems in our society.  Women are shown almost-unattainable media images and are encouraged - expected? - to achieve that look.  As a girl with diabetes and part of a family of curvier people, whittling my body down to that socially mandated size isn't easy ... and wasn't accomplished.  Life with diabetes puts a huge emphasis on food, making me unable to eat just a raisin for lunch.  Instead, I ate in accordance with the then-peaking of my insulin and tried to keep my weight, and my diabetes, under control.  This was difficult at times.

I was never a "thin" adult.  I've always had more of an athletic build than that of a runway model.  As a kid, I was scrawny, but once puberty hit, my body took on womanly curves and held fast to them.  I never felt shapely or feminine - instead, I felt fat. In college, I lived with six other girls (six until me?) and they were all teeny little things.  They had thin arms and thin legs and they shared clothes with one another, but I couldn't get in on that scene because I was about two sizes bigger than all of them.  If they were wearing size 4 pants, I was in an 8.  I always felt a bit bigger, a bit more awkward, and very shy about my body. Despite whether or not I looked as overweight as I felt, my mind was entrenched in thoughts that were self-conscious.  I was very unfair to myself, just like many other women are.  It sucks to feel bad about yourself.

Diabetes challenges my health, but it sometimes offers up a healthy perspective.  It took me several years to really come to terms with the fact that my body needs to have different priorities.  Going to the gym has become less about slimming down my stomach and more about improving my cardiovascular health, lowering my A1C, and reducing body fat so that I can make better use of my injected insulin.  It couldn't be about fitting into a smaller dress size because it needed to be about being healthier every day.

I'm not going to be teeny.  I will not be the girl who appears to be challenged by every breeze that blows through.  My body will be strong and curvy and ornamented by various medical devices, like a diabetic Christmas tree.  It's taken me a long time to achieve a level of confidence in how I look and how I feel about myself.  But I see myself now and realize that I don't look much different than I did in high school or in college.   I just feel different.  I feel like the numbers that matter aren't the ones on the scale or sewn into the tag on my skirt, but instead the ones stored in my meter. 

I feel happy, and that looks better on me than any stitch of clothing I own.

Comments

Thanks Kerri. Believing this is hard for us women sometimes. But believing it as a diabetic is so important.
By the way, I like the Diabetic Christmas tree! :)

Amen to "healthy"! There are a number of "healthy weight" indicators other than clothing size and BMI... Not to mention that you need to have at least 18% body fat in order to safely handle pregnancy (though having more than 30% body fat is not healthy in any case).

Kerri, it's as if you're living inside my brain! My wedding is 3 months from this Friday and you literally summed up everything I've been feeling the last few months as I dread my first (and future) dress fittings, pictures, how to hold my arms so they don't look like ham bones....etc. Thanks for making me realize I'm not the only one!

Every girl should read this. Diabetes or no diabetes.

I see the struggle with my daughter already at 10. It kills me Kerri. thanks for this.

The real problem started when womens fashion was put in the hands of gay men, no offense intended but there is a definite conflict of interest. A woman should look like a woman, not some bony, rib showing waif. You are doing just fine Kerri, I'm glad you are keeping your mind right.

Well, I've seen you in person a few times and I think you look great. I think someone who looks athletic is way better than being "skinny." Being athletic takes a lot of determination, which is a much better quality than vanity.

Great post, I need to be reminded of this periodically.

Do you think we will ever get to the idea that curves are sexy. I have been around for 54 years and they have never been sexy at least not all the curves I have. And if you lose the weight then you have got to figure out how to get rid of the extra skin you have left. But as you said I am not trying to just achieve HEALTHY.

Well said Kerri.

Thanks for opening up to the D-OC like this. ;-)

Not only are you healthy AND beautiful, you are gutsy.

Kudos hon.

Hey Kerri, great post. Im writing as a skinny girl who wishes she had curves. For a long time I liked being thin ( felt happy about it) but then I got diabetes, lost so much weight, and couldn't stand being so thin. Now that I'm better and gained some weight I see curves as healthy and sexy- I want more! When you feel good inside it shows. Always love to read your blog.

Hey Kerri ... great blog and exceptional writing.

Two questions: What's the genesis of the blog title "Six Until Me?" Maybe it's somewhere on the site and I missed it.

Second, I'm curious ... I know that weight training increases insulin sensitivity in healthy individuals without diabetes. Does resistance and weight training help Type 1 diabetics require less insulin? And is that part of your workout routine?

Cheers!
Matt

Dear Kerri,

U R hott OMG. ;)

But really, thanks for your honesty. I struggle with my own body image, but I try to be happy with what I've been dealt.

Awesome, awesome post! I want every young type 1 girl to get this message (and non-d girls too, for that matter.)!!

Thank you for writing this! It makes me feel better that I'm not the only one dealing with these issues!

i think every woman alive has been in the same boat kerri. i'm glad to hear that you know the numbers on your meter count for a lot more than some of those other numbers people measure perfection by. my fiance always says he likes my curves because hugging a skinny girl is like hugging a coat rack.

Be the best YOU you can be, Kerri :D

If I knew then (back in my teens and 20's) what I know now, I would've been completely in a better mindset about my body.

I wouldn't have let people, like my mom and grandmother, have such a huge influence over the perception I had of my body. I'm 5'5", and when I was in college I weighed 125 and they STILL told me my butt was getting big....when it was NOT big at all. It all went down hill from there because I figured why bother trying if my best efforts aren't having an effect (or so they caused me to believe).

I never say a word about any of my kids' weights.

I've been thick and thin and everything in between. I think the best place is where I am now - steady. But I still have to watch the scale in order to maintain the (blood sugar) numbers. And for someone who's had distorted body image, that's obsession in itself. I hate that it's part of my morning routine to weigh myself.

At The Beautiful Women Project we believe that it is the sum of a woman's life experiences that make her beautiful. Your approach to life and beauty makes you a role model for us all.

Hi Kerri! I'm new the blog, but love reading it. I'm curious what you meant about the relationship between lower amounts a fat = body using insulin better. I'm a newly diagnosed type-1 diabetic at age 20! Thanks!

Great post! I remember losing a bunch of weight when I was a teenager and in ketacidosis. I thought that was the best "diet" ever. Maybe it's due to watching Stacy & Clinton (What Not To Wear) and reading Go Fug Yourself (celebrities in ugly clothes) but I no longer pay attention to the size on the tag these days. I just try to find things that look good on me. Or maybe it's because I'm now 44 and much wiser, and not feeling like the 15 year old fat girl anymore.

I have fought weight my whole life and hate to see my type 1 daughter getting chunky. How do you deal when you are guzzling oj at 3 a.m or glucose tabs at odd hours? I am trying to get my daughter into sports so she will be strong in her body, whatever size that body is. Love ya, Kerri!

Thanks for the reminder, Kerri! I am exceptionally 'curvy' and need to lose weight -- not for fashion sake or to feel better about myself, but to be healthier and to have better glucose readings. There, it felt great to put that into words on a page. I bought an elliptical exercise bike today and told my other half that it MUST become a habit rather than something I use 'sometimes'. It's the only way I'll be able to really make it part of my life. I'm so glad to be reminded that it's for my health - NOT my appearance.

Hugs,
Gaelyne

Men don't like rail-thin. No one likes rail-thin. Except Janice Dickinson. And who cares what she thinks?

I hope I can get to that point one day.

thank you. a truely fantastic post. i needed to read this from such an inspiring role model.

PS. love the diabetic christmas tree. thats what i feel like sometimes.


Very true. I've been thinking about this lately as I gear up for my next endo appointment, in about a week. It's co-hosted with a weight-loss clinic so I always feel extra self-conscious.

By the way, there's been some exciting diabetes-news in Ontario the last week or so. I have the details on my blog if you're interested, as it doesn't seem to have shown up here yet.

Thanks for this post Kerri. This is something I personally have been struggling a lot with lately. I work out a lot, and intensely, and lately I seem to encounter so many low BG's from doing so that I'm forced to eat more than I burn. Quite frustrating as we all know. The worst part is that over the last 2.5 years (since my wedding), I have put on a good 15 pounds, yet I work out more than before. In the past when I worked out in college, I simply didn't care as much about my Diabetes. If I had to have a higher BG in order to workout and lose weight, then that's what I did. I've matured a lot since then and I now realize overall health is much more important. I'm not so much stuck on the weight number, it's more the fact that the majority of my wardrobe won't fit! An unhappy topic plus a hit to my wallet! Anyways, I hope I can continue to be patient enough to get my pump levels right so I can work out more freely without the low BG's.

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