Tag Archives: body dismorphia

Those darn stilettos…

When I was 26(ish) my boyfriend gave me a beautiful pair of burgundy {can’t say it without thinking ‘ron burgundy’ ha – i digress} ferragamo stiletto heels. They were (are) fucking gorgeous. And I wanted them! In my head I was all like “these heels are gonna make the a real has-her-shit-together kinda woman.” They were perfect.
 
Only they weren’t.
 
Because they weren’t “me.”
 
They never felt comfortable. And I was always baffled by this because they were SO NICE!
 
Aside from the physical comfort thing – I just never felt comfortable in them because well… I’ve finally come to the conclusion that it’s RARE that I ever feel truly comfortable in sky high heels.
 
I’m already pretty tall as it is and to be honest I like to have the option to be able to flail around fancy free as I please. And not roll my ankle.
 
And, well, stiletto heels just don’t allow that part of me to shine. Most heels just don’t allow that part of me to shine.
{And I commend any woman who can be fancy free in heels – I really do!}
 
I share this because: It feels freaking amazing to be like “heels, don’t need ’em!” Heels are not a crucial part of BEING A WOMAN. Or being a human for that matter. Geez.
 
Somehow, 26 year old Maggie believed so. And part of me wishes she hadn’t spent so much time TRYING TO FIT IN but then… maybe I wouldn’t be where I am today.
 
I’ve learned many a lesson in my short time on this planet. One being: I will never (RARELY) spent my well-earned money on a pair of stilettos or any other article of clothing that I believe will “fix me” or make me “fit in” with a certain mold.
 
And that my friends feels incredible.
 
(PS. The stilettos are still in my closet and when I’m in a heel-wearing mode I will occasionally rock them. And usually take them off 20 minutes later to replace them with flats of some sort.)
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Ironman vs. The Bulge (spoiler alert: Ironman wins)

How Ironman got me to move beyond some of my body image issues and start to see the bigger picture…

I don’t know how we got on the topic of body image but toward the end of a typical Monday night dinner at home, Brett and I started getting into a fairly emotional conversation about positive versus negative body image and having a healthy approach to fitness versus an unhealthy, shame-driven approach. I can’t blame him at all for not seeing my perspective from the beginning — I had not fully explained myself, nor had I provided any hard wired examples. Add to that the fact that Brett is a man who deals with completely different issues pertaining to physical appearance.

I had initially given him the example of a student in my class who expressed to me she hates the way her thighs look in downward dog – a story that was all too familiar both from my own experience and from those who have shared similar sentiments with me! I told Brett how it broke my heart to hear that because ultimately my goal as a yoga teacher is to help people see their bodies in a more positive light. I felt like I was not doing my job.

It wasn’t until he asked me in earnest “what’s wrong with not liking your thighs and doing something to change them?” I knew full well what he meant, and that he meant well. But I could no longer keep my cool, nor could I contain myself.

And out it came…

I launched into a small section of my own story, a fairly recent incident that occurred during the last months of training for Ironman Lake Placid. On several occasions while preparing to head out for long runs I would stop and stare at myself in the mirror, I would lift up my shirt to uncover “the bulge” and force myself to see this imperfection and then take myself into a downward spiral of self-hatred. No longer did I feel motivated to run. What was the point if I looked like this? All I could focus on was the bulge that my run shorts created around my hips and that I had no way of covering this up, and how on earth will I cover this up on race day when I will be wearing tiny tri shorts and a tiny tri singlet that barely covers my belly button?

As I was telling Brett this story my chin started to quiver and my eyes welled up with tears. Not only was I providing a concrete example of negative body image and body dismorphia, but I was reliving the experience and all the emotions that came with it.

Brett was at the same time shocked that I could see myself in this way but, more importantly, appreciative that I could share this with him as it gave him a deeper understanding of who I am. And I in turn didn’t feel like I was harboring a deep dark secret.

Eventually I was able to move beyond the thought process and  my attention shifted away from obsessing over what was wrong with me. I was able to throw on my run clothes and just get out there because I had a much larger goal, something far more important to focus on; that goal was Ironman.

It surprises me that I am able to unveil this story as I rarely talk about my own issues with body image, much less such isolated, specific incidents like this one. I normally keep these stories to myself because they make me feel shameful and embarrassed. At the moment I am working on putting all of this together into one big Maggie Story and this is really just a small snippet. But it’s an important one.

This one incident shed light on what Ironman and endurance means to me. In the end, none of it matters. When I crossed the finish line at Ironman Lake Placid I loved my body and my spirit for all that it was capable of. I had forgotten about how I looked in my tri kit – “the bulge” was but a memory by this point. My body morphed into this superwoman creature that carried me 140.6 miles – and that rocked my world.

I guess sometimes you have to transport yourself to another superhuman-like planet to start to see yourself in a new light.

 

 

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