Saturday, November 11, 2006

Body Image

The other night I tried on a pair of Gap jeans that I bought 2 years ago. I remember buying these particular jeans just before going to Wisconsin for my godson's welcoming ceremony. When I tried them on recently, I found that they fit about as well as they did when I bought them. Makes sense: At that point, I'd just finished the triathlon and I weighed about what I do now.

There is one major difference to these jeans now versus when I bought them in 2004. Back then, I thought they kind of made me look - sing it with me, girls! - fat. Now, I think they look awesome. Obviously, my ass is the same size as it was 2 years ago. I was in pretty good shape then, as I am now. So what gives?

I have a whole bunch of theories and speculation about this, and most of it is better said by someone like Naomi Wolf than by me - plus, there are about a whole bunch of really good blogs that you could read on the topics of body image and weight loss and exercise. The one thing that I keep coming back to for myself is this:

I ran a marathon.

I had absolutely no idea how empowering it would feel to have run a marathon. (I know that if my friend A reads this, he'll laugh his head off and will call me to tell me how ridiculous I sound, and mock the whole idea of grrl power, but, dude, call me after YOU run a marathon and then we'll compare notes, OK?) I felt like this a little bit after the triathlon, but definitely not to the same degree. I'm sure the difference in scope of the two events themselves was a contributing factor - Nike puts on a pretty good show! - but it was more than that. The training was more difficult, and often lonelier. I had to dig deeper and look for inspiration more often, both during training and during the race itself. A few minutes after I crossed the finish line, I started crying, because I felt overwhelmed by the achievement - and then I looked around and saw the 15,000 other runners who'd just accomplished the same thing, and my heart swelled and my pride expanded to include all of us. We rock.

The marathon was 3 weeks ago. Since then I've run only once, in a 5 mile race. I've bought a new pair of jeans that I thought looked pretty good, but that I might return, since I've rediscovered this pair from the Gap. I've eaten too much Hallowe'en candy and slept 'til noon and basically committed all of the 7 deadly sins that I could remember. And since the marathon, when I pass a plate glass window and my eyes immediately go to my thighs and I think, ugh, I quickly remember that I ran like a girl for 26.2 miles BECAUSE of those thighs, and I quietly thank my body and instead look up to see if I'm having a bad hair day.

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