Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror one day and loved what you saw? Then, a couple of days later, wasn’t so sure if you liked it any more? I do that to myself constantly. I have been struggling with confidence in my body and the way that it looks ever since I was old enough to really compare myself to other people. In 6th grade, I was several inches taller than the majority of my classmates, and I’m pretty sure that I could wear some of the pants that I wore then even in high school.
I remember being self-conscious all the way through middle school and into high school, always taking care to wear bathing suits that covered my stomach and the tops of my thighs. I fluctuated between the mindset that I was a fat, morbidly obese, ugly monster of a girl that had no business whaling around in a leotard and tights on my weeknights, and that I was just a little bit “thicker” than the other girls, but still had every right to do what I loved to do. None of my dance teachers had ever told me that I needed to lose weight, but looking around the barres in our studio, I saw maybe one or two other bodies that looked anything like mine. It was confusing and hard to understand as a 12, 13, and 14 year old girl.
I guess around the 11th grade I started to come to terms with who I was and my body type. As I entered my senior year of high school, my parents started this new “low carb” diet. They started seeing immediate weight loss results which caused me to jump on the bandwagon and try it out for myself. My personal experience with it was much less incredible. Yes, I lost a couple pounds, but it was slow and frustrating. At the same time, I was preparing my college applications and for the auditions that I was planning to attend. My biggest fear going into the audition process was that the schools would take one look at me and automatically write me off because I didn’t have the ideal body “type.” At my first audition for NYU Tisch School of the Arts, I remember nervously looking around the room and searching to see if any of the other girls resembled me. I was delighted to find that I wasn’t the biggest girl in the room. I honestly think that was one of the things that really helped me to fall in love with OSUdance is that I was surrounded by so many different types of bodies. There weren’t just super skinny, super tall ballerinas there. There were girls that looked like me: neither thin nor fat, but somewhere in that gray area in between.
Since at school, I’ve come to embrace my body even more. I have found that there are things that I am good at and things that I am not good at. I have found that outside of the dance world, I have a body that a lot of people would like to have. Plenty of males are definitely attracted to my physical appearance. At school, I let go of my stringent diet, and allowed myself more freedom to enjoy some of the things that I love to eat, but don’t love me so much back. My clothes still fit me; I wasn’t busting out of the seams of my favorite jeans. I knew I was putting on muscle and strengthening parts of my body that had pretty much gone unrecognized in high school, so I expected a change in fit.
In May, I studied abroad in Costa Rica. There, I ate pretty much everything that was put in front of me. I was engaged in some pretty physical dancing almost every day of the week. For the first time that I could remember, I was happy with the way that I looked in my bathing suit. On the beach trip we took, I didn’t feel like I had to hide; in fact, I thought I looked pretty darn good. Maybe it was too much of the hot Costa Rican sun, but I was confident in the cute two piece that I got for $10 from H&M.
I tried to carry that confidence with me home. I had an honest conversation with my mom when I got home explaining how I felt about myself and my approach to my diet. I don’t want to be bound to a number on a scale any more. For me, it matters less what I weigh and more how I feel with how I look. But…
I don’t know how to feel when the shorts that I wore last summer are fitting a little tighter and those pants that I kind of-sort of fit into at the beginning of first semester don’t fit at all now. Am I still doing ok? I guess if I wasn’t trying to be a professional dancer, I wouldn’t have the constant nagging concern of whether my jean size is going to keep me from getting a job in the future. I work out a lot and definitely am still conscientious about what I eat, but every day it seems as if some new diet fad is coming out. I feel as if there different voices in my head that are telling me, Eat carbs, Kylee, they won’t kill you!, or That piece of bread will go straight to your belly, butt, and thighs!, and the newest one on the scene, Wheat is the devil! (Blame Dr. Oz for that one.) To be completely honest, I’m frustrated and simply do not know what to do. I wish that someone could sit me down and spell it all out for me. Or atleast just tell me, is my body ok, or do I really need to lose those 5 pounds that my mom is on her head to lose.
I wasn’t expecting to figure everything out in this blog post; rather, I simply wanted to share my thoughts on the subject… Maybe this doesn’t make any sense at all, but if some of you relate, you can share too, and we can share in this journey together. Here’s to being healthy…