Chubby Armpits, Fat Ankles and Saddle Bags
Updated: Apr 23, 2019
When I was 13 years old the man who lived next door remarked, “oh! You have fat ankles, just like your Mom!” I remember feeling shocked and embarrassed and confused…. First, I could not believe someone could be so rude, second, are my ankles fat? And third, my Mom doesn’t have fat ankles. In fact, at 13 I remember looking at my Mom and thinking she was stunning, and perfectly put together. I studied her ankles for weeks after that, and still…. Nothing. Her ankles looked fine to me. But I began to see my ankles in a different light.
Four years later, I donned my favourite one piece swim suit, grabbed my slalom ski and prepared to set out for a ski behind a friend’s boat. As I made my way down the dock, a male friend yelled to me in a mocking tone, “nice saddle bags! They should keep you afloat.” Again, my curves were something I was aware of, but didn’t think were especially negative…. Until that day in July when I was 17 years old, and trying to feel good about myself in my bathing suit. On that day, my curves became saddle bags and something to be ashamed of.
And then, at age 23 my boyfriend called my armpits chubby…. Really? Chubby armpits? Do armpits truly qualify as chubby or skinny?? Seriously? Gone were the tank tops and cute outfits. Hiding my armpits became a new wardrobe challenge.
As I reflect back on these particular men, who in their ignorance thought they were making simple observations, or being funny, I am reminded of three important things:
1- As humans, we are wired to remember the negative. But this does not mean that ten times more positive things have been said.
2- It is essential to speak life into others. Because people remember what they feel.
3- The words I say to myself are arguably more important than the words others speak to me.
The last one stands out as the most significant to me. The words we repeat to ourselves in our heads, and the judgments we make about ourselves, the criticisms we ruminate on during the day…. These are the voices that harm us most deeply. How can we feel good, positive, healthy, or beautiful if we bully ourselves all day in our own minds? We can’t.
So, how can we work towards healing from some of the hurtful things that continue to haunt us? I recommend:
Task 1 challenge the negative thoughts, historical, hurtful comments and criticisms and replace them with self-compassion, encouragement and grace.
Task 2 seek out affirming, supportive people who remind you of your value and worth.
Task 3 take time to celebrate yourself. Your body is unique and beautiful. Your strengths and characteristics are uniquely yours.
Noticing yourself and celebrating who you are is an important step towards reconciling past hurts and embracing life in a deeply meaningful way.
United with you, chubby armpits and all.