this one is your real body

We act like we have a couple different bodies. There’s the one you’re in now, and then there’s the one that’s your real body.

It might be from the past or the future. It’s mysterious, but thoroughly detailed. The real body gets obscured by the obnoxious, floppy, hungry, unflattering  current one. The real body is like a place you really, really want to go. Where life makes more sense. Where it’s sunnier and you can wear a bathing suit without even thinking about it.

I caught myself thinking like that when I gained 20 pounds in college. My new body wasn’t really me. It was a costume I was trying on for a while. A slightly scary costume. A slightly daring costume. With an unfamiliar soft little belly and squishy thighs. Sometimes I caught myself staring at my new thighs. They took up so much space! They felt nice. They weren’t my real thighs. But they were OK.


My body never regressed gracefully into its precollege state. My weight went up and down, and my shape shifted, so that I tucked fat into new, creative spots. My face changed. My hair changed. And eventually I cut my hair off completely.

But sometimes I feel like I am looking through someone else’s eyes at myself. This isn’t me. There is a different, better, streamlined me in there, somewhere, but I can’t quite get to her.


And when I decided to get a nose job, it was the same. My nose wasn’t right. Even though it had always been on my face, it wasn’t supposed to be. There was a better nose under it. The right nose. The nose my face deserved. The real me had a slender, sculpted nose. Not this gawky, arrogant thing.

It’s easy sometimes to imagine flicking the imperfections off, like flies, like splotches of dried mud. That’s not supposed to be there! Get rid of it! I can recite a list of my body’s mistakes as long as my unfortunate body itself. I think I think that if I could just correct them, then I would be exactly right. Then I would be better and more like the real me.

But let’s get real. This is the real me. It’s all real. This body I have right now, it’s my body. It’s not just a temp, keeping things going until my better body gets back from that vacation in the Bahamas (she’s always wearing this ridiculous little white bikini…).

Enough apologizing. All of us. Enough of that.

Enough waiting. For thinspiration to strike or the weight to go to the boobs or the surgery to correct the nose or the desire for dessert to flake away and vanish. So that you can finally wear those jeans you’re meant to wear or that low cut dress you’ve been saving or that shirt or those sunglasses that only look good on a thinner bridge. Enough looking in the mirror and seeing the ghost of that other, more perfect body, taunting you. Enough ascribing success and happiness and good taste in wall art and the ability to make hilarious jokes to the type of look you think you should but don’t have.

There is only one real body. It’s this one. With the fuzzy eyebrows and splotchy skin. With the still-arrogant nose and the adorable lips. With whatever it is that makes your body itself.

Screw waiting. I’m gonna run around all over the place, wearing whatever I want, being the real me.

*  *  *

Do you ever feel like you’re waiting for a better body?

Unroast: Today I love the way I look in a long necklace. I just broke one, and it was really, really sad. I tried to fix it for like forty minutes and then decided it was a metaphor for all of my struggles and gave up. And then decided that giving up was a bad metaphor, and tried again. And then gave up. Not sure what that says about me. Can’t be good. But maybe I just have the wrong pliers?


Kate on January 20th 2012 in beauty, body

44 Responses to “this one is your real body”

  1. Jewels responded on 20 Jan 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    It took me a long time to appreciate my body for being mine. In high school and into college, I was always kinda bummed about my little belly and complete lack of breasts. Midway through college, I started seeing myself in a different light, as being, well, me.
    I’ve always been appreciative of my body and what it can do. But I got more comfortable with the idea of my body after befriending a photographer and having the guts to take nude photos. Seeing your body in a different light definitely helps. Looking in the mirror I still don’t like what I see sometimes. But I’m working on it. I started running last year and not much of my body had changed much. Or so I thought. After nearly a year, I’ve noticed that my belly doesn’t jiggle when I run, though my belly is still there.
    I’ve also started lifting weights, a tiny bit out of wanting to change my body’s look, but mainly to get strong enough to complete a half marathon this coming fall. I still struggle to see the changes in my body in the mirror. I know that I’m getting stronger and my boyfriend keeps telling me that I’m getting firmer and not as squishy, but I’m still not seeing it. But I do have to take a few minutes each day and remind myself of all the hard work that I am doing and that my body is still awesome. Even if I never look like a fitness model or a professional distance runner.

    You should invest in a pair of jewelry pliers. Kinda like needle nose ones, but very small. And a really good investment. I’ve saved lots of broken necklaces that way.

  2. Audrey responded on 20 Jan 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    *grumbles* Yeah, I have to begrudgingly admit that you’re right. I’m at that point in college where I’ve gained 20 pounds, but I keep thinking I’ll revert back to my high school body again. In the back of my mind, I know it’s not going to happen.

    I still miss my high school me. She’s only been gone for a few years, and I haven’t quite adjusted yet. Soon, hopefully.

    On the plus side, I’ve been rockin’ my own arrogant nose for my whole life. I like it!

  3. Sasha responded on 21 Jan 2012 at 12:44 am #

    I love this Kate. Every single time you write about body image I’m like
    YES!!! there are still people in the world that recognize how distorted our views of ourselves are :) I read you every day and I feel like I know you.

  4. Lynellekw responded on 21 Jan 2012 at 5:37 am #

    Yes, but my “real body” isn’t so much about looks as the way it feels & functions. My real body doesn’t keep me up all night in pain if I eat an apple with the skin on. It doesn’t force me to spend perfectly good Saturdays slumped in front of the TV instead of DOING things. It doesn’t get hot & achey & unhappy if I have one early morning or one late night. Most of all, my REAL body hasn’t spent years recovering from one problem or another, only to leave me suddenly realising how old I am and that all the things I’ve planned on will never come to pass.

    I’m still working on accepting the body I have. Every year or so, I think I’ve worked it out – that I can love the body I live in and forgive it for malfunctioning. But then something else breaks down, and I have to start all over again.

  5. Melanie responded on 21 Jan 2012 at 10:57 am #

    I dieted and punished my body for being fat for years. I am finally at a place where I can look in the mirror and say, “This is my body. I eat healthy and exercise so this must be where I’m supposed to be weight wise.” I no longer starve myself. I do still have dreams where I cut off my gut, but they’re not as often as they used to be. And sometimes when I see pictures I still utter inside, “Who is that fat chick? I most certainly do not have that extra chin. I’m foxy.” But the chubby chick with the extra chin, I’m hoping, will be foxy to me some day too.

    I was anorexic in high school and over exercised. After that I did a lot of drugs for many years. I completely destroyed any healthy metabolism I may have had at this ripe old age of 37. I accept responsibility for my body, and I am working on loving it just the way it is. I threw out all “skinny” clothes or “just 10 pounds more” outfits or gifted them to friends. Everything in my closet I can now wear. That helped a lot.

  6. melissa responded on 21 Jan 2012 at 11:12 am #

    Heh, omg I do this too. In my head I look completely different which is extra funny because I don’t particularly hate the way I look at all.

    I don’t think it’s terrible though. How often are we staring into mirrors anyway? Maybe when I’m brushing my teeth or something.

    Sometimes when I give in to my imaginary self, I tend to walk around more confidently and that’s a good thing.

  7. Elena responded on 21 Jan 2012 at 11:54 am #

    I can see from all the comments that feeling you’re not in your body, or at least not in the “right” body is such a common thing! I’ve felt it too, and still feel it sometimes. Adolescence and college years can be damaging…Not only because your body changes, but because you might not be conscious that your habits have to change once you stop growing up, in the physical sense.

    Anyhow, I think there’s always been a gap in my mind between how I see myself and how other people see me. I’m definitively not fat, at all, but I don’t see myself as thin or skinny either and when people tell me, whatever the reason, that I am, I find myself thinking “really? where do you see that?” I hope I can get over it some day and see myself just as I really am (if there’s such a thing…)

    I’m glad you’re getting over that feeling and accepting yourself : ) I guess that’s true psychical health and thaking the worries about the right or wrong body out of your mind will surely help putting all that strength somewhere more productive!


  8. Courtney responded on 21 Jan 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    I love your blog so much. (Had to say that, first off.)

    Also, I know exactly what you mean. I have this slightly idealized version of myself in my head–mostly like me, but a little bit better. Clear skin, more poised, a little less jiggle and squish. Despite everything I know to the contrary, I feel like “someday” I’ll have that. Someday I’ll be one of those women who rise at 5, wide awake, go for a run, do some yoga, eat a super healthy breakfast. It’s a pretty silly fantasy though, since I’m not a runner and don’t really care for breakfast most days. As much as I envy those types of women, unless I want to push myself to do those things I will never be one. (90% of the time, I don’t want to push myself to do much of anything.)

    Over the last couple years I’ve grown much more accepting of the way my body really is–I’m hoping this trend continues.

  9. San D responded on 21 Jan 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    I’ve got the reverse problem. I have always recognized the “real” me. I am always surprised when someone (rarely) says something complimentary about my body where they claim to see the “other” body. Mostly we all agree that I am what I am, and that’s all there is. While I can be of two minds on some things, I’ve always been of one mine about my one body.

  10. Mandy responded on 21 Jan 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    MY ideal me doesn’t have arthritis in her feet.
    My ideal me can run/jog as long and as fast as she likes without worrying about being able to walk without limping in pain for days afterwards.
    The ideal me can do all of the exercise poses where you have to put your weight/balance on the balls of your feet.
    The ideal me can crouch down long enough to give the shower stall a good scrub.
    The ideal me struts around in spike-heeled boots

    But my ideal me isn’t the REAL me. I’M the real me.

    The real me was brave enough to even attempt to jog in the first place–and was delighted to find out that I actually COULD! (within limits, but still!)
    The real me is smart enought (and stubborn enough) to do the exercises with modified footing.
    The real me is contemplating hiring a home cleaning service to take care of those household chores I can’t do well–and don’t like to do anyway.
    The real me struts around in a pair of custom-made buffalo-hide moccasin boots that are not only eye-catching and cool, but are the most comfortable footwear EVER.
    The real me is tough, smart, adaptive, courageous and unique. The real me is ever so much better than the ideal me.

  11. Elena responded on 21 Jan 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    @Mandy I think you’re real you is way cooler and braver than your ideal you : ) Keep it up gal!

  12. Madeline responded on 21 Jan 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    Seconding what Elena said ;)

  13. Wanett responded on 21 Jan 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    I had most of my body image woes when I was a pre-teen and I was still the same size and weight as a 7 year old. It was the thing I was most teased about. I was growing so slowly my mother actually consulted a doctor. I grew in high school, but stayed roughly the same weight. I didn’t change much until I started having babies. Then I went up one size with each pregnancy. Hip bones and rib cages don’t ever return back to the pre -baby size.
    I’m mostly OK with my body. Except for the size of my breasts. I’ve had four children and it’s like no one told them they’re supposed to STAY larger after at least on of those pregnancies….I did however keep a teeny bit of lower belly. The weight did stay in the general torso area, so I guess I should be happy. I am definitely larger than my high school self, but I was very thin then. I shouldn’t be 32 and that size, imho.

  14. Mandy responded on 22 Jan 2012 at 12:25 am #

    @Elena and Madeline
    Thank you, ladies–I certainly like to think so!

    And I also think Lynellekw is way tougher and braver than I am.

  15. Lynellekw responded on 22 Jan 2012 at 4:45 am #

    I don’t know about that – I had one round of rheumatoid arthritis when I was 18. I am deeply, deeply grateful that chronic arthritis is not one of my problems yet.

    But we can both be brave and tough, yes? (I’m also planning on hiring in a house cleaner this year… but then my husband got made redundant last week, so it won’t be for a little while yet!)

  16. Erin responded on 22 Jan 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    Wow, Kate. I really think you’ve put your finger on something very important here. How do we end up with this weird cognitive dissonance between us and our (real) bodies?

  17. Susan N. responded on 22 Jan 2012 at 6:15 pm #

    Dear Kate, I am a mom who is homeschooling. Oldest, 15yo daughter, has been stressing about her appearance (e.g., whether it is “acceptable” according to the prevailing cultural norm). I found your other blog through Home Ed magazine link, I think, and then this one. EtDC is a treasure! Thanks so much for writing this blog. Your witty insights are often profound (this post was the best yet — so true, but delivered with such winsome, honest, humorous style). My daughter reads your blog almost nightly; it’s as regular for her as logging into Facebook to chat with her friends. Keep on writing. You are a good role model — an encouraging voice — for young (and not-so-young) women.

    The weight loss book ad: The irony of it! :-D

  18. Kate responded on 22 Jan 2012 at 11:51 pm #

    @Susan N
    Thanks for this comment! It’s really sweet of you to let me know. And hi to your daughter!!

    re: weight loss ad. Tell me about it! They still haven’t responded! *sigh*

  19. Eat the Damn Cake » little victories: BOMBSHELL!! responded on 23 Jan 2012 at 2:21 am #

    [...] I hit my heaviest weight ever (again) back in November and I’m still there. Which kinda surprised me the last time I weighed myself (at my parents’ house, of course, since I don’t own a scale). I thought I’d slip back. I thought I’d return to normal. Y’know, to my real body. [...]

  20. Jiminy responded on 23 Jan 2012 at 10:24 am #

    So funny – I was thinking about pretty much the same thing a couple of months ago and linked to your posts (twice!) in that post :) ) – but you put it into words with much more grace :)
    And yet I am at a point where every single photo of myself makes me want to press delete, so although I’m happy for your achievement, I’ll make one more attempt at finding something vaguely resembling my imagined me in the body that I nowadays inhabit :) .

  21. Aurora responded on 23 Jan 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    I don’t feel like me at all. The real me can lift herself up by just her arms, swing around pommel-horse style, climb trees, all of that. The real me isn’t wimpy and unable to get crap done. The real me can wear a sport bra and short shorts and rock them. The real me has muscles and long, lean lines, not fluff. I feel like someday I’ll be the real me, but that day is not today.

  22. Real Me vs. Now Me « Sassy Sass responded on 23 Jan 2012 at 3:25 pm #

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  23. Javi responded on 23 Jan 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    Its so strange what we women do to ourselves really… I am 15 months post pregnancy and still don’t feel like the real me. The real me is 110lbs and still fits into her college jeans and can wear cute little shirts without having to pray the buttons don’t pop. There is no mama pooch, no stretch marks, no splotchy skin to be found in the real me.

    The weird thing is I was talking to my hubby about this exact thing last night and here you are blogging about it today. Someday… hopefully, i’ll be close to that “real me” . Someday :)

  24. zoe (and the beatles) responded on 25 Jan 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    i am waiting for my “real” body every day. it’s draining and i don’t know how to drop it.

    you look lovely in your dress!

  25. Sunday Snippets « Recovery Bites responded on 28 Jan 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    [...] powerful post by Eat the Damn Cake about Loving Your Body Now, Not the One You Wish You Had Enough waiting. For thinspiration to strike or the weight to go to the boobs or the surgery to [...]

  26. normal period responded on 29 Jan 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    You really touched me and I wish more women could read it. I think we can all understand, we’ve all been there. It was a good place to get out of.
    Not meaning to rain down on this, I find myself thinking I have to say something-so here goes: Keeping our body active should be a habit, not just a solution! Our body is built for it and it needs it, it is so important, and so is eating well. There are no “magic solutions”. There are some VERY nasty shortcuts but they’re not worth it (I’ve seen it up close and will not repeat others’ mistakes!!! it’s not nice!). Keeping active, learning to love yourself and eating well will all serve you for life as you only have one body and you only live once. If it was our last day on earth we wouldn’t pay attention to these “flaws”, we would only focus on doing what we love and what makes us happy. Why wait…

  27. LDarroch responded on 29 Jan 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    Very well examined, though I come at it from another side. I was a fat baby who turned into a fat kid and a fat teen (5’5″, 160something lbs). Lost some weight in the last years of my teenage years, but of course, I was still fat in my mind (say, 145 lbs).
    When I moved out of my parents house to a new city to be in grad school, I became a near-vegetarian (my accident) and went on 3 hour walks x 4 a week. I got down to 128 lbs. I weighed myself, out of curiosity, and almost passed out. That was my vacation body, borrowed for a couple of years.
    Now I’m 43, with a carnivore for a husband, a kid and a job that defines the word sedentary. No leftover time for those 3 hour walks, and I have no idea how full-time working moms find the time to get to a gym. I’m 192 lbs, size 14 (petite, believe it or not) and I’m wearing my real body.
    Now, that aging shape-shifting face, that I want to return-to-send.

  28. Eat the Damn Cake » nice to meet you, rebel body responded on 01 Mar 2012 at 1:01 pm #

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  30. Tempest2002 responded on 07 May 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    I’m in college, just finished a semester, actually and I’ve noticed that I’ve gained some weight since highschool too. But that’s okay.

    I’m not entirely *thrilled* with my body (I could do with a little less belly out front), but I’ve never really worried about weight loss or gain. I live on a farm, so I get plenty of exercise.

    My boyfriend seems to like it and I’ve noticed I’m actually losing weight now. I’m happy with that, but the being between two sizes of clothing gets on the nerves.

    Congrats about liking your body!

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  35. Eat the Damn Cake » Get your body back!! (and sandals giveaway winner) responded on 08 Apr 2013 at 2:31 pm #

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  36. Bodies and | highdivingboard responded on 30 Apr 2013 at 5:23 pm #

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  37. Bodies, again | highdivingboard responded on 03 Jul 2013 at 4:31 pm #

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  38. Body Image Booster: Embracing Your Real Body | Weightless responded on 07 Feb 2014 at 3:21 pm #

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  39. Eat the Damn Cake » the wound responded on 26 Feb 2014 at 11:19 am #

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