Body Envy

Yesterday I happened to be in our nation’s capital for Independence Day, alone in a crowd, in transit between NY and VA (it just worked out that way, on the 4th). It was fascinating to see all the people, so different, all mingling together. I heard many languages, saw all different shapes and sizes and colors, from the ladies in pink protesting the war to the people hawking cold water in Spanish. The folk life festival was going on as well on the Mall, which added even more richness to the scene. For lunch I had both a hot dog and Thai basil chicken!

But as I walked around, I found I had few or no inner defenses against the hordes of strollers and pg bellies also on parade.

Some hours previously I’d been at a friend’s apartment leafing through a fashion magazine and had begun to feel the rise of a bitter sensation, long dormant: body envy. Right this minute I’m feeling a little fat, although for the past ten years or so I’ve generally felt pretty good about my body. But looking at that fashion magazine resurrected emotions from a time when I most adamantly did not – basically all through adolescence and into my early 20s.

Those skinny girls! How I hated them!

When I look back, I realize that I largely left that envy behind when I started working out regularly after college. It was partly that my body took on new qualities (more lean muscle, less fat, stronger cardiovascular, better endurance) but I think it was even more that I felt in control. When I was in school, I felt like there was nothing I could do; no matter what, I would always be/feel fat, lumpy, and unattractive. It seemed to be part of who I was at an intrinsic level. But not anymore; feeling fat (I say feeling rather than being because I think that a lot of the years I spent feeling fat, I really wasn’t) doesn’t feel like who I am, it’s no longer intrinsic.

But now it’s the pregnant bodies that inspire this envy. I see them and think “I will never be able to look like that.” I find myself hating them, but even more, hating my own body for what it isn’t able to do.

And again, I feel like part of it relates to feeling a lack of control. Infertility is starting to feel like an intrinsic part of who I am, and I really don’t like that. It makes me feel helpless. And makes it harder to deal with the envy.

Thin bodies, pregnant bodies. They’re everywhere, man! I don’t want to go around in a cloud of envy all the time, which means that what has to change is me. And if I’m not ever able to conceive, then something else has to change. I’m just not sure exactly how to do that. Is it all about serenity? Or what?


4 Responses to “Body Envy”

  1. SaraS-P Says:


    Yep, it is all a huge lack of control. I wish I had more control over my body and my life.

  2. Samantha Says:

    I understand completely where you are coming from. If I never get pregnant, somehow I’m going to have to be comfortable with who I am and what I didn’t do. I wish I could tell you how to do that.

  3. Tara Says:

    Thanks so much for your comments on my blog. They were very helpful.
    I totally understand your comment about infertility being an intrinsic part of who you are- and it definetly makes you feel out of control- I think that is what bothers me the most about it. No matter how hard you work or try, the result may still be the same. Maybe there is something good that can come out of it though- I don’t know what yet…but I am hoping..

  4. Zee Says:

    UGH! I’m a Body Envier too. Like you, I used to envy the thin, sexy ones and now it’s the pregnant, abundant ones. Not sure what do about it, but I do agree that a lot of it’s about control (or lack thereof). I try very hard not to think of myself as infertile, though. Mostly because it sounds so permanent. I try to remember to say–even to myself: “I’m having a hard time having a baby,” since that sounds more temporary. I’m trying to think of this as a setback, not a state of being, whether it’s true or not. (And I AM trying to go for the serenity. It’s helping. Not all the time, but enough to get me out of bed in the morning–which is something, I guess…)

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