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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » Body Image and Insecurities

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Author Topic: Body Image and Insecurities
Sukashu
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Member # 46738

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My boyfriend and I have been together for 2 years, 1.5 of which we have been sexually active together. We both are our first sexual partners, lost our virginity together, are neither of us have had any sort of sex with anyone else.

My boyfriend is wonderful. Aside from one or two comments he said without thinking very early in our relationship he has given me no reason to ever doubt his commitment to me. But, I am so self-conscious I think it inhibits me during sex. Whenever I see another girl I feel terrible about myself. I constantly compare myself to other women. I wonder why he wants me still after all this time and if he will get bored of me.

I have told him all of this, and no matter how much he tells me he loves me and tells me I'm beautiful and all of that I still worry all of the time. I replay those few things he said, which he has told me he would never say now, and I feel not good enough for him. I am average, maybe 5 or 10 lbs overweight. I am blonde, green-eyed. Sounds like I can't be too unattractive. But I see other girls and think that he must think they are much more pretty than I could ever be.

I should probably go to a therapist or something but I don't think I could talk to anyone but my boyfriend about it.

Anyways, I guess I am just looking for any advice.

Posts: 9 | From: California | Registered: Apr 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Can I suggest that if this feels really debilitating, maybe sex is happening sooner for you than you are actually ready for?

Given how you're feeling, I doubt I have to tell you how a poor body image can really impact sex, and that in some ways, being as seen and vulnerable as we can be during sex can also trigger feelings of insecurity. If we have any kind of sex before we feel really comfortable in our own skin and sharing it, that can get in the way of becoming more secure and confident.

Can I ask what you do around your own body image? One biggie in getting to positive body image, for instance, is getting past the idea that your body is about appearance. Sure, that's one thing it's about, but it's far less about that than being about what a body DOES and what we do in it. What do you do for yourself that makes you feel strong and capable in your skin?

Working to get past seeing other women as competition is also a HUGE one. Not only does that tend to cut you off from having good friendships and other relationships with other women -- that's socially isolating yourself from half the planet, after all -- it keeps you stuck in body-as-appearance again, and doesn't get you focused on the fact that we're all unique and all beautiful. We're not competing, we're co-existing, you know?

Just talking to your boyfriend about this probably isn't going to be very helpful or get you very far, unless he's an expert on body image. So, therapy can be a big help with this, but if you don't feel ready for that yet, I could certainly also suggest some books for you to read that could help get you started.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Cian
Activist
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There is no point being in agony over appearances-- something I've learned the hard way, having been insecure of my appearance for over half of my life now before seeking outside help.
I also realized that as long as /I/ feel myself ugly and hold it as my internal truth, it doesn't matter how many people tell me I'm beautiful and how often, if my internal truth says to me that they're lying.
There's nothing to feel ashamed about seeking professional help, and you may find it easier to properly unload all your feelings to someone who is not in your life in any other way. (ie. you don't really see them anywhere else but the therapy and they won't invite you to dinner...)

I'm sorry I have no better advice for you, but I can relate to you and how you feel, because I too feel awful whenever I see other women (it's worse if I watch movies because actors tend to be of higher attractiveness.)

I think the most important step you must take is to accept yourself, as you are, and realize that your internal "unattractive" truth about yourself may indeed be false and in need of changing.
You are the best you. [Smile]

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Sukashu
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So, a lot of the things you said, Heather, I think are true for me. Firstly, I think I had sex too soon. 16 may be just right for other people. I thought I was mature enough. Looking back and looking at myself now, I still am probably not if I have these issues still. I am very comfortable with myself when it is just my boyfriend and I. Sex isn't too big of an issue, but I think it is an underlying thing that keeps me held back some.

As for what I do that makes me confident in my own skin, that's a problem as well. I have a low self-esteem. I never feel smart enough, never exercise enough, never do as well as I want on tests that matter to me. I make mountains out of molehills. I suppose I am doing well in my math class, and I feel good about myself after that class. I enjoy figuring out the homework and helping classmates. I did the Vagina Monologues recently and was really proud of the production. Sadly, only a few people I knew came.

Oddly enough, all of my life I have been more comfortable making friends with men. I only have one good friend who is a woman currently. Even her I feel horrible about myself around because she is ssssooo skinny. She's unhealthily skinny. About 5'2" and just over 100 lbs. I wish I could be like that. Those silly tests always tell me I need to lose weight. Of course, my friends, family, and my boyfriend tell me I am fine the way I am. That I am muscular and that it doesn't account for that. I did an electrical one and it apparently does account for muscle. Only 10 lbs to lose, according to that.

Anyways, I digress. I know I should go to a therapist, but it is just so easy to try and ignore the problems rather than talk about it. I hate talking about it to people. Especially therapists. I know they try to help, but it feels like I'm being judged. They expect me to pour out everything to them. Why? I don't know you. Why should I trust all my secrets and let all my emotions out with someone almost random? I know they try to help, but I am usually a very private person when it comes to my problems.

Starting in 5th or 6th grade on through 9th grade I had horrible acne. All over my face, my back, my chest. Nothing helped. I learned to forget about what other people think about me. I figured if my acne ever went away it would be so much better than having it I would be pretty just by comparison with how I was. Instead I now can't forget about what other people might think about me.

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Starting with therapy, the reason that therapists seek information from us is twofold. One, they want to help us voice things ourselves so we can get them outside of our heads and articulate them so we can get more clarity for ourselves, and two, in order to help someone -- which is why a person comes in -- they need information to know what's going on, what got a person to what's going on, what the context of their lives are, and what skills they seem to have or don't in handling life.

A good therapist isn't judging: that's truly not the point. They also shouldn't be random: ideally, you've chosen them because you know their credentials, want their assistance, and you feel you can build trust with them and get the help you need from them, specifically.

I know all of that can be hard or scary in some way, but when it's what you need, it earnestly is worth it, and tends to be pretty rewarding. During some of the toughest years of my life, I had a wonderful counselor, and while it was tough talking with her at first, it got easier pretty fast, even with very, very hard things to talk about (like abuse), and I can't imagine I would have pulled through as well as I did without her.

It's actually not all that odd to feel more comfortable around men, especially as a heterosexual woman, if that's your orientation. SO many young women grow up seeing other women as competition, especially in the west, that many women have trouble allowing themselves to truly connect with other women for a long time. That will hopefully change with time, but it also takes effort, and making some changes to your way of thinking. We can't connect with anyone else, obviously, if when we're with or around them, all we think about is what they look like, or how they have what we want: that kind of makes a relationship-that-isn't, where everything about them is interpreted as being about us. Know what I mean?

It sounds like you have some things you do that make you feel good, but maybe it's time to try and find something more physical you can do that will make you feel good? How about instead of just trying to "do more exercise" (which is usually, when you're feeling like this, not about process, but about trying for a product, like looking X way or weighing X pounds), you find a physical activity you simply feel good, physically and emotionally, doing?

For example, I boxed and then taught girls boxing for a while. I love riding my bike, especially on a beautiful day, where I can plan a ride to wind up somewhere cool to go sit and enjoy the day. I learn new tricks with my hula hoop, etc. These things certainly benefit my health, but more to the point, I enjoy them, they make me happy, when I'm doing them, I'm appreciating all my body is capable of, not what it may look like.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Sukashu
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Thank you for all of the advice. I love doing physical activities, hiking, biking, etc. I would also enjoy doing some sort of yoga or martial arts but, alas, these cost money to go to classes. I am hoping for my birthday I can get a bike of my own(I usually borrow my friend's bike).

It's a long process to get over feeling bad about yourself. I will hopefully just take it a day at a time and make sure I am doing things that won't get me down.

Also, I do want to go to a counselor, but that's more money as well. I am trying to find a job, and when I get one I will get myself some therapy.

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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So, maybe you just need to invest some more time on the things you can do right now, like hiking?

For bikes, do you know about freecycle? If not, it's basically kind of a Craigslist for stuff people are giving away, rather than selling, and bikes can come up now and then, so might want to keep an eye out: http://www.freecycle.org/

If you want to do something like yoga or martial arts, you can also ask places near you that offer those about bartering. For instance, if you helped clean up after your classes, or helped with some administrative work, might you be able to get a class a week or a couple times a month for free? It so never hurts to ask. With my kickboxing, for instance, once I got to the point where I was good enough to teach, it's basically a swap I did to get free classes and extra studio time for sparring.

When you're having your hikes, even if you can't do the other stuff right now, it might be helpful after then to journal how you felt about yourself during? Or even if you don't do that, just try and check in with yourself while hiking mentally, thinking about how your body FEELS, how you feel in it, what it's doing, etc.

I agree, it can be a very long process, and I think one thing older women also don't tell younger women enough is that most of the time, even though aging makes its own changes, as we get older, we tend to get more comfortable with our bodies. Again, not everyone has that experience, but most older women I know, have known or have read (and I feel this way myself), tend to express feeling better in and with their bodies past their 20's than they did in the teens and 20's.

Per counseling, some areas have resources for free counseling, too.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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whenfinallysetfree
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You sound a lot like me actually...i'm trying to figure this stuff out too. I didn't realize how many girls actually felt the same way. Something that does help me a lot is people-watching--like looking at other people and seeing how everyone is different. I do that at work sometimes and it's interesting because you really start seeing that not everyone on the street is model gorgeous and that they still are walking around with boyfriends and girlfriends and look very happy. Sometimes it helps me to look at the guys and notice that they're not perfect either and probably won't be looking for perfection in any of the girls they choose to date. I guess it sounds kind of weird to mentally pick out people's "flaws", but you'll start to notice that the things you find unattractive on yourself look just fine (or even attractive) on other people. For instance, I was having a day where I had a bunch of pimples and I told myself to look at the people I saw at the store I work at and actually noticed that most of them had pimples too and that they were still good-looking people, which made me realize that there weren't neon arrows pointing to my zits haha
I just thought you should know that you really aren't the only one who is going through this =)

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"Feel the pain teaching us how much more we can take,reminding us how far we've come...Let the pain burn away from our hearts...We have time to start all over again..." --Copeland, "When Finally Set Free"

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Sukashu
Neophyte
Member # 46738

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I found freecycle awhile ago and I completely forgot about it. I will definitely check there.

Also, I like your bartering idea. And I starting journaling a few months ago and I have found it helps me quite a bit to figure out things like why I got upset at something or what bothered me about the day.

Posts: 9 | From: California | Registered: Apr 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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