The Effect of Poor Body Image on Relationships

About 5 years ago my body
image was in the gutter. I was also in a relationship with a wonderful man, who
cared about me like the Earth cares about the Sun. He loved me, just the way I
was, but there was a problem with that: I didn’t love me just the way I was.

 I would always marvel
at his intelligence and would ask him to explain his homework and classes. He
was funny, silly, and loved to make puns with me. You’re probably thinking, but
what does this have to do with  body image? I’m getting there.
Don’t worry.

 My poor body image
put a huge strain on our relationship. There were days when I couldn’t even
cuddle with him because I felt crappy about the way I looked. He loved my
curves, but some days I would just throw my arms up and say “I can’t! I’m
feeling too ugly!”

 As I look back on
this experience, I am purely awe stricken. Here was my boyfriend, who loved me
unconditionally but I couldn’t reciprocate because I was so unhappy about my
body image. With a whole lot of courage from myself, as well as my boyfriend, I
took up a running class. I even managed to find a running buddy, who is still
my friend to this day. When I started to learn what my body was capable of, I
began to think of how it functioned, and not how it looked. I saw my body as a
vessel that could potentially improve race scores, and I was focused on
improving my running technique.

 I was elated. I
consistently told my boyfriend about how I was improving, and he was so
supportive all the way through. When I took up running, my body image issues
weren’t magically cured. Poor body image is something that can take over your
every waking moment of every day. During that period, there was not a period
where I would wake up, swing my legs out of bed and say “Ew my thighs are
gross.” I worked out 5 days a week, and did a lot of walking up and down
the stairs of my university campus. (I will tell you that there are a lot of

I am about 25 now, and I
finally feel good about the way I look and, most importantly- how I feel as a

 I feel that it is
very difficult to talk about poor body image without it leading to body
shaming. I find that talking about poor body image leads to a ripple effect:
one girl says she feels fat, then the other says she is so ugly, and so on and
so forth. Also one thing: one cannot FEEL fat!! It`s not an emotion!!

 We need to build an
alliance and stand strong together. Shaming is not the answer. Accepting each
other, and our selves, as well as being able to talk about body image in a
healthy way is key. I would know, I’ve been there.  🙂

Sita Sahasrabudhe has a degree in Social
Work and a Minor in Women and Gender Studies. She feels passionately about body
image issues. She considers herself to be an ally for body positivity, and
hopes that our beauty standards for women ultimately change.

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