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My 20 year old self body shames my 40 year old self

I used to be fine as hell ya’ll. FINE AS HELL.

Me at 20, I think (hope) I was headed to the pool with a friend.
Nevermind the ratchetry of this photo, let’s move on, lol.

I didn’t know I was fine at the time. I’ve never been overly confident about my body, in my opinion. I fluctuate between believing I’m attractive and feeling like I need work. I always have. I’d even go as far to say, looking back, I had an unrealistic view of what I thought was “wrong” with me. Even back then, I didn’t think my stomach was flat enough 😐

For the most part, I have been mostly content with the way I looked. By the time I got to college, I knew I had a nice body and a few features folks found attractive – full lips, high cheekbones, and nice arms.

By the time I became a full fledged adult, living in Tallahassee with my 3 year old daughter, I knew I wasn’t the 20 year old version of myself anymore but I was still turning heads where ever I went so I was cool.

Hanging out it Ochos Rios, Jamaica at age 34 in 2013

In 2013, I became very interested in health and fitness and got into really good shape. Probably the best shape of my life.

Fast forward to today, 40 year old Libryia stands in front of the mirror feeling like two different people. I often feel like that 20 year old version of me is trapped under this fat and these stretch marks and wondering how she got stuck in here. How did she get back rolls? Why is it so hard to tie her shoes? Why don’t her jeans fit?

Now, I’ve never been a person who body shames others. I see beauty in everyone.

But when it comes to me, it’s completely different.

Bassin Bleu in Haiti at age 36. Can you believe I was complaining about my body on this trip!?

When I stand in my closet trying to get dressed, I only see all the clothes I can’t fit anymore and find myself saying “you’re too fat for that” as I rake through the limited wardrobe I have.

I get online and start looking at clothes I might want to buy and I hear myself saying “that won’t look good on you” or “you don’t have the body for that anymore”.

I stand in front of the mirror, trying my damndest to button up a pair of pants and I tell myself “seriously Lib, you can’t even fit the fat pants you bought anymore”

If I’m completely honest, the version of myself who has always been in good shape without even trying is disappointed in my current self. She’s also confused by my current self.

Kicking it in Tulum for my 40th birthday

20 year old Libryia is trying to figure out how the hell did this happen? Furthermore, why is it so hard to fix?

40 year old Libryia feels so judged and unable to find answers to those questions which feel more like accusations. Like my younger self is accusing my older self of pilfering away some gift I was given. The gift of being fine for no damn reason. I wasted it. I used it up. I buried it under taco bell and bourbon, I guess.

20 year Libryia clearly doesn’t know how the anatomy works and how age plays into that. I’m frustrated with myself for letting her get to me. I am a logical person. I know that logically and scientifically, my body is not the same body I had at 20. Furthermore, 20 year old me didn’t know shit. Who the hell is she to judge me? She was right there with me at Taco Bell, in my ear telling me to “eat the taco, we’ve always eaten tacos, we’ll be fine”. Now she has the nerve to judge me!?! She better respect her damn elders.

I wish 40 year old Libryia felt confident and content. I wish the me I am today knew that it was not a “gift” to have a nice body without even trying for the majority of my youth. It was just my circumstances that for a very long time that I had a body that looked athletic and I enjoyed it.

I was loving my time in Playa del Carmen, Mexico (age 40)

Now I have a body that, at 40, sustains me. It does not look the way it did, but it’s still doing alright. This body does not have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, or any disease aside from the asthma it’s had since the age of 3. This body has raised a teenager, run Spartan races, won a fitness competition, laid on the beach in Thailand, done the wobble at clubs in South Africa, climbed Machu Picchu, partied on a yacht in Mexico and it’s still going.

I had a conversation with my therapist about this, she reminded me that my 20 year old self, my 30 year old self, and my current self just need to get aligned on being happy with my accomplishments to this point, honest about where I am now, decide where I want to be, and use the best parts of each version of myself to get to there.

These versions of me could team up and help me to the goal rather than shame me about where I am. I could use the tenacity and optimism of my 20 year old self and leverage the badassery and determination of my 30 year old self. Those are way more useful than the judgment and comparison.

Truth is this won’t be easy. I’ll still have days when I look in the mirror and see my 20 year old self staring back at me with her judgy face. I’ll just have to remember to tell her to kiss my ass and drag her to the gym with me.

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My 20 year old self body shames my 40 year old self

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