Amy

Name: Amy
Age: 38
City: NYC
Occupation: UX Designer & Freelance Costumer

Photo Credit: Eric from Green Bag Photography

Photo Credit: Eric from Green Bag Photography

 

Please describe how YOU see your body in general, when you look in the mirror.  

I’m happy with everything overall. I adjust what I eat and try to walk an average of 4 miles a day.  I feel very lucky that I have a body that I am happy with, and try to work at it a little each day.  

I get bummed out about my lower abs sometimes, but then I’m like, dummy, you are about to get your period.  I used to obsess over my thighs, but once I cut out most dairy and soda, I really slimmed down over the past few years.

Overall, I feel like I wish that I hadn’t wasted so much of my twenties worried about how I looked in a bikini!  Now I give zero fucks.  I look younger than my age and I’m happy with that, since I’m still single and dating. 

What do you consider beauty to mean? What is beautiful to you?

I consider beauty to mean an obvious lightness of being and joy.  Sure there are aesthetic things that can mean beauty, but when I find a woman beautiful, it also includes beautiful women I meet that have a joy and sense of fun.  I have met traditionally pretty women that I don’t find beautiful or particularly engaging because their spirit or personality are weighed down with stress, tension, and general blah.

 Describe how you feel about your body on a “good” day and “bad day”   

Good day: I feel good about the soreness of my back tension and my arms from lifting at work.  I feel confident and walk confidently.  A good day can also be a day where I feel centered and grounded, and that all relates to my body image as well.  (I am a trained yoga instructor and practice a little each day)

Bad day: I feel heavy, heavy hearted, stressed, tense, muscles tense, bloated, tired.  It really bothers me if I feel like I am getting bad posture and am not holding myself with my shoulders back.  I worry about all my muscles in my back tension creating face wrinkles!!  

What does a healthy body image mean to you and what are your body image goals?

I always want to feel joy and free of tension in my body. I want to feel like I am taking care of myself and my future self.  

I would love to work out more, or do yoga or pilates more.  I sometimes wonder if I’m getting enough cardio but walking 4 miles a day might get it for me. 

I met a yogi and professional dancer who is 93 years old.  It was such an inspiration to watch her move and her sense of being was like a hug.  (Tao Porchon-Lynch)  Both of my grandmothers lived to be over 90 years old and I feel like in order to enjoy my body and self long into old-age I should keep taking good care of myself now and enjoy movement and flexibility.  

Can you talk about a time in your life where you felt body confident?  When You Didn’t? What Shaped Your Feelings?

I have a hard time with women who comment on my weight or what I’m eating / drinking in relation to it. “How do you stay so thin when you eat (or drink) X?” Why do women think they can ask me that?  What the fuck am I supposed to say?  I’m sorry that you can’t?  I limit everything I eat?  I was raised by a mother who tried to instil good food relationships and I listen to my body when it feels sick or like its had too much of something?  I am lucky because I have a good metabolism?  

I just left a job where my 2 female bosses mentioned it a lot.  And they were not heavy by any means but were obsessed with their own weight, work-out, and diets.  They never warmed up to me.  It reminded me of being in my all–girls freshmen dorm in college.  It was exactly the same type of comments that those women used to say.  I graduated from a small high school and knew all of those girls since we were 5 -10 years old, so me being thin was never an issue.  Having my weight constantly commented on was something new, and I knew that I was supposed to try to somehow navigate these comments without coming off bitchy or like I was happy about it, or better than them?  Its fucking ridiculous.

In college I eventually found a group of friends who stopped commenting, or people grew up, AND I transferred from that university (Miami University at the time had been reported to having a 85% instance of eating disorders among their female students… In Marie Claire or something 1995, 1996.. I forget)

I guess I am still a little angry about that last work situation.  And I understand it’s always their insecurities.  But it makes me feel like I wish I could fit in?? Which makes no sense. I actually don’t eat in front of my co-workers at my new job.  They have a great kitchen & I take my laptop in there.  But there are also more men in our workspace so it helps balance the stupid diet and “I hate <this body part>” talk. 

Have you had issues or challenges with clothing in regard to body image?

 I work in costumes so I understand how much the people you see on television don’t have perfect bodies.  I have seen a lot of people (famous & not famous) without clothes on and we all have our stuff.  I also understand that every piece of clothing you see in film or TV has been altered to fit that person perfectly.  If I could really impart that wisdom on everyone – I wish people knew this!! Those clothes don’t fit them like that off the rack!! We bring up the waist for people with shorter torsos, take in the waist of a shirt for big busted women.  We’ve sewn up the front of button-ups because THEY ALL GAP LIKE THAT.  Hems, raise sleeves, take in waists, take out side seams…  People aren’t one size and the fact that women allow this piece of fabric to make them feel bad about themselves makes me so sad.  Its just not realistic, truly.  
In my own life, some things are flattering on me, some things aren’t.  I accept that. I get alterations done when I feel like I love something and don’t dress to trends, I dress to my body type.

Does your body image affect how you eat?

I recently took out most dairy, and all cows milk about a year ago.  It makes me itchy and sneezy, and I lost weight. Nothing huge but a few pounds.  I also can’t eat nightshades, they make me throw up, so no potatoes (fries or chips).  I really try to listen to my body when I’m hungry and what I feel like eating/craving.  Protein, sugar, chocolate, sushi, giant spinach salad, etc.  I live alone so I don’t keep any junk food in the house (except for chocolate chips in the freezer, tip from Chef Giada from the Food Network).  And if I’ve been sitting all day, then I don’t force myself to eat a full meal or anything, I just eat until I feel full / not hungry anymore. 

When do you feel best? 

I love heels, makeup, dressing up, going out.  I realized that walking the sidewalks can feel like my own catwalk or music video.  Its fun for me.  I don’t care if people are noticing or seeing me.  I just like to have a good time.  
I also feel great after a pilates class, taller & longer.  
And the way I feel after a good yoga class is why I decided to become a yoga instructor. There’s nothing like it.  

How has your body image changed over time?

I mentioned above that I think I feel best about my body right at this moment.  My face lost its baby fat, but I haven’t started to look too old just yet ☺ . 
A few years ago I decided to really work to stop making myself feel bad all the time.  It was a mental health challenge to help me get over my anxiety and depression.  I could really ruminate on all the things that I wasn’t doing or getting done.  I still struggle sometimes on my personal timeline of goals, or my fear of never “finding the one” or missing my window to have kids.  I feel like that’s normal, but its terrifying!  
But one thing I finally got good at was NOT beating myself up about not cooking, not working out all the time, not going to a gym, going out too much, etc.  This is wasted energy.  This is me!  I don’t belong to a gym because I can’t justify the cost and I find them SO BORING.  I didn’t cook because I was fed all my meals at work!  I went out all the time because I live to have fun and make connections with my friends.  And now I’m much, much, much, happier.

Who do you feel influences your body image most? 

Myself.  I like when my friends say I look good and I’m flattered when I am getting asked out on dates, etc.  But it all comes down to me in the end.

What pressure around body image do you feel? 

Just from myself to listen to my body and be honest with myself.

I limit my social media intake.  I never look at magazines, because of all the photoshop.  I only watch Tv on Netflix, Hulu without commercials, and amazon prime, so no commercials.  And because of my job, and seeing “celebrities” in person, I know they don’t really look like that.  Its airbrushed make-up and photoshop, almost everyone is wearing a wig and impeccable tailoring. It takes a team of about 10 people to make them look like that for the red carpet.  You should see them at 5 am on Monday morning right when they get dropped off at work.  ☺

What are your thoughts on the media/advertising/social media and how they affect body image?

What I said earlier about tailoring and what you are actually seeing on television.  Oh and by the way, everything is fucking photoshopped.  I met the guy who photoshopped Beyonce’s thighs on the "Single Ladies" video.  I’m sure she doesn’t even know that the production company did that.  But its EVERYWHERE.

How do you feel about altering appearance through cosmetic surgery and applications like Photoshop? 

I personally just realize that its not realistic and TRY not to compare myself to images in the media.  Its ALL fake – even with the color correction in the editing room you can change anyone’s appearance.

Photo Credit: Eric from Green Bag Photography

Photo Credit: Eric from Green Bag Photography

 

 

All photos by Eric from Green Bag Photography