My body love journey

Illustration by Andrea Forgacs

Story by Saskia Wagener

I think my Body Story started in my teenage years because that is when I did my first diet. But I guess it started way earlier when I did ballet at the age of approximately 6 because I already remember back then that I had thoughts that I was too fat. Which makes me so sad because I loved ballet. I think I loved dancing all my life I was just scared of what other people would think of me dancing.

I was a chubby baby, but not a chubby toddler or child when I look back at pictures. I was also never a picky eater according to my mum.

I was just reading my old diary (from when I was 13-16/17 years old) and it makes me so sad because all I was writing about was that I wanted to be skinny like certain celebrities because I thought once I am skinny I would get a boyfriend and I wanted one so bad back then. I thought I would only get a boyfriend when I am skinny. I was writing about dieting non-stop in there as if it was the only goal in life. I also wrote that I was not happy with the way I looked and couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I knew I had a problem with my self-esteem but sadly no role models back then.

I did my first diet when I was about 13 years old, a lot of diets followed after that (not going to name them all here but all the big diets companies out there). I think I tried a lot of different diets all with the same reason “finally getting skinny”.

I do remember at the age of 16 I finally had my “goal weight” so everything must have been perfect you think, right?

But no it wasn’t because I still wasn’t happy with the way I looked, there were always girls who were prettier or skinnier in my opinion. Even the guy I had a crush on back then wasn’t falling in my arms as I and I for sure thought that would happen.

Sadly I had no one who told me that I was good enough the way I was and I wish I would have never done a diet because all that diets do it you gain all the weight back afterwards (and more). So you end up with even more kilograms on your body which only made me hate my body more. I always thought I was the problem and that if I was just “strong” enough to manage this diet it would work, I always blamed it on myself instead of the diet.

The truth is DIETS DON´T WORK!

I was wearing my first and yet only bikini on a Family vacation back in 2001 in Spain. I remember I felt so fat/weird wearing it and when I saw a picture of me in the bikini afterwards I told myself I can never wear one again because it looks disgusting.

In school there were always the “popular girls” and I always wanted to look like and be like them, obviously because the boys liked them.

Sport lessons in school were also horrible since it was always about “who is the fastest”. It was rarely fun and the worst were the “Bundesjugendspiele” (federal youth games).

I also went to a lot of different gyms, where you always feel strange and you think everyone is looking at you thinking “what does this fat girl even want here” or “she will have a long way to go”. I will never forget the advice on of the gym staff members gave me once which was “never eat an apple at night time because it has too much carbs”. I mean we are talking about an apple. Luckily I knew right after that person told me that this information was *bullshit*.

On dating websites I never uploaded full body size pictures because I believed that I could make them believe I was “thin” and if they get to know me first than they would not care about how I look anymore. Today I realize that it´s not true, if you love/like yourself that is the most important thing and then others feel more attracted to you as well.

When I was 18 I spent a year in the USA as an Au Pair, which was literally the best year ever and I am so thankful for this experience which made me who I am today. I got much more independent, open-minded and talkative. But still I wasn’t happy with my body, I wanted to look/be like someone else. Like the girls in the magazines or tv shows.

I am glad I moved to Munich 5 years ago (my family lives about 500km away from me now) because I feel like I can be much more myself because no one knew me here. I miss my family but for my personal growth living further away is better. My family was (and probably still is) my biggest critic but I don’t care anymore because I am 32 years old and this is my life and body and I can do what I want with it. How many times did I have to hear the sentence “you should really lose some weight” or “which jeans size do you have at the moment?” and I always thought to myself I will show them that I can do it and then they will me super proud of me and when I lost weight I obviously heard the sentences like “you look great” or “did you lose weight? You look great”, “good work, keep going”.

About 1 ½ years ago I realized I do not ever want to a diet EVER in my life again, I went to a nutritionist and after about 5 sessions with her I realized that she was not a big help as well, as all she cared about was calories and the number on the scale. I heard of intuitive eating (well I guess I always heard about it) and started following accounts on Instagram who gave information about it and body love/body positivity. I also bought some good books. I started realizing that the problem was never me or my body, the problem is other people who told me what is healthy and what I should do with my body.

Also a big part was that I broke up with my Ex-boyfriend last year, my body knew that I was unhappy in this relationship and showed me in various ways for a long time already (because a lot of emotional eating). After breaking up I felt a big relieve and my body was thanking me for it.

I am so thankful that I have this wonderful body that keeps me alive and carries me through life.

I think taking the contraceptive pill didn’t help, which sadly I realized much later. Since not taking the contraceptive pill I feel much freer and like myself again.

So 1 ½ years ago when my SELFLOVE journey started and I love it. My body is telling my when its hungry and that is when I eat but I do not check points, calories or something else. I am also an emotional eater so when something bothers me I eat but I am at a stage where I am much more aware of it and can check if I really need it or I should talk/think about the topic that is bothering me.

With sports/being active I do what feels good and what I enjoy doing. I love Nordic walking, being in nature and listening to music. I also love hiking which is perfect in Bavaria. I also love dancing but with dancing I mean just turn on some music I like and dancing around my apartment which makes me super happy.

I do not have a scale anymore and I have not weighed myself in the past 4 months and I am not planning to buy a new scale, which is tricky I must say to unlearn all these things that were important to me most of my life but the number on the scale does not define me anymore.

If I could go talk to my teenage self I would give her a big hug and tell her that she is perfect the way she is and if not everyone likes her that’s ok and their bad not hers. I would tell her to never start a diet.

The stage I am in right now I would call “healing” as I am on my body love journey. Healing because dieting and hating your body is very exhausting, constantly thinking and hearing what other people think about you.

I believe we need to see more diversity in body sizes on social media and the media in general.

I am thankful for all these HAES (Health at every size) and body positive accounts who encourage me to just be myself. I also love that more and more brands decide to do curvy styles/sizes. I remember that was not the case in my teenage years which did not make it easier (the clothes I liked were never available in my size). My closet is now filled with much more stuff that actually fits me, I used to buy clothes and say to myself “I will buy this as an incentive to loose weight”.

I want to buy my first (ok it´s actually the second if you count the one from my teenage years) bikini this or next year and I am really excited for this. I also love dresses and buy more and more of them, I enjoy fashion again because I only buy what fits me and found some really cool brands that I love.

Now I look in the mirror and of course I do not like everything I see but I also do not hate everything. I can for sure tell you some things I love about myself, which are:

  • My hair

  • My boobs

  • My smile

  • My teeth

  • And my eyes

But I also know now that people like me for my cheerful, always in a good mood personality.

I hope that in the future more people realize that diets don´t work and that loving/liking yourself has nothing do to with a number on your scale.

I love my life right now and looking forward for a future without any food guilt and body shame.

Cheers and lots of love, Saskia

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