A few weeks ago, I underwent shoulder surgery. I broke my shoulder in a sports competition, and it turned into a big mess.
For the people who know me, it was a shocker. They all know how much I love working out: from heavy weightlifting (which my mom constantly says I should stop doing because I’m “starting to look like a boxer”) and gymnastics which make my hands bleed, to extreme two-hour long spinning classes and yoga in a 40 degree room.
Now they see me with the device that I need to wear to immobilize my shoulder (because if I move it, not only do I run the risk of harming it forever, it’ll hurt like hell), and ask me “Oh… what are you going to do now that you can’t work out?”
Unlike most young people, my Instagram is not full of pictures that would make guys want to date me immediately.
My photos are of my achievements when I’m working out. (Once a guy told me “I saw the picture of you lifting heavy weights and it made me very scared of you”.) There’s this thing about being able to know what my body is capable of that makes me so proud and happy. I’ve never had high self-esteem.
My relationship with my body is a complete disaster – I’m aware of every tiny imperfection I have, and I can’t stand it. But by working out, I’ve found a way to love my body, at least for a few hours every day.
By working out, I’ve found a way to love my body, at least for a few hours every day
If I’m honest, the truth is I wasn’t always like this. I was a very chubby child – like the ones you see on the street when they’re five years old and you think they’re super cute. I was this blonde and very big child that everyone loved (and I was the Danish type of blonde, which for Argentina is super uncommon)… until the chubbiness followed me into my teenage years and what was cute, became [insert your typical high school insult here].
Needless to say, I had a terrible time at school. My body then became this huge obstacle that would stop me from being ‘normal’, from experiencing the things that any young girl should.
I didn’t get asked to school dances. I didn’t get chosen to play the lead in the school play (yes… I went to a highly discriminatory school in a highly discriminatory country). I couldn’t wear the clothes that all my other schoolmates wore — I grew up in a time when crop tops were super cool. Instead, I had to wear the clothes that fit me, which was young boy’s clothes or my mom’s.
I just passed physical education because the professor said I was “smart and a nice person”.
The sad part about losing a lot of weight is that before you do it, everyone tells you that once it happens, your life is going to magically change
So in my last year of high school, I made a huge transformation.
It all started during my graduation trip where you party every night and all the hookups happen. I had been madly in love with one of my classmates for years, secretly and quietly hoping he would love me back. I was just about to make my move on him… when he started kissing another girl.
I had watched every American romantic comedy that ever existed, so in an attempt to make it just like the movies, I ran to the bathroom and cried like a baby. I replayed that moment every day at the gym to give me the strength I needed when I started feeling tired (which now makes no sense, since a guy is not the only reason why I made the effort to lose 35 kilos… but at least it worked).
The sad part about losing a lot of weight is that before you do it, everyone tells you that once it happens, your life is going to magically change. Like losing weight will solve all your problems.
Rose petals will start falling from the sky once you hit your goal. All the things that made you sad will no longer be there. You’ll love yourself more than ever before. I’m so sorry to disappoint you but none of this is true: you’re just the same person, but in different clothes.
And what does all this have to do with my shoulder surgery? Well, remember I told you that I found a way to make amends with my body and build some self-esteem through working out? So… what now?
My doctor, in an attempt to make me feel better, told me last week “Don’t worry, you’ll be back to your beloved weights in as little as six months”. The girl who felt unstoppable needs to stop for a very long while.
We have a saying in Spanish that goes something like this “Do as I say, don’t do what I do”
It’s been a month since my surgery. I can only walk every day and cycle to some places, and I must admit that looking at myself in the mirror without thinking “I hate this” is hard. In my mind, I know and I’m a firm believer in the fact that it’s not about how my body looks, it’s about how healthy it is and how happy it can make me… but my self-esteem has hit rock bottom.
We have a saying in Spanish that goes something like this “Do as I say, don’t do what I do”. So since I can’t change the way that I feel right now (or I can, but it will take a while), I’ll try to help anyone who’s reading this.
Here’s my message:
Our bodies are the means to get us places: to school, to study and become the leaders of the future; to spend wonderful times with friends and hook up with the hot guy or girl at the party; to dance crazily and taste great food, see the sun during summer and cry and experience the amazing (and not so amazing) things that life throws at us. Our bodies can look any which way, and it doesn’t always have to be the best way possible. And we should always love them and ourselves.
But most importantly, trust that we deserve and can achieve anything we want.