Fat Girl Wearing Thin

Life beyond the loss.

   Feb 19

Beauty Underneath

Do women still lie about their age?  When I was small I was taught to never, EVER ask a woman’s age.  “That is rude and inconsiderate,’ my mother used to say.  A woman telling you her true age was about as likely as a woman telling you that she was wearing her natural hair color.  It just wasn’t done.  Some things fortunately do change though, and from my experience women are more comfortable sharing their age these days and don’t bat an eyelash about going from blonde to brunette.

Some things though haven’t changed.  Every so often I receive an email from someone asking about how I deal with loose skin from losing over 100 pounds.  Recently one woman wrote saying that she was embarrassed about her body after losing weight and that she felt unattractive and unworthy of love. How I wish that women would embrace their bodies regardless of what age they are or what battles they’ve gone through.  In such a ‘beautiful’ society it’s not acceptable to talk about the real world that we live in.  Why?  I believe its because the truth is sometimes scary and people don’t want to be burdened with it so they continue to strive for the unattainable: photoshopped models and the leggy, gorgeous exercise instructor at the gym.  But the truth is, our bodies are not designed to look voluptuous and taut throughout eternity.  That is simply not its job.  The body is designed as a vessel to serve us as we pass through this life; its bound to get a bit worn, a bit bruised and beaten.



One of the best photos ever taken of me (in my opinion) happened to be at the art show I participated in earlier this month.  From this photo you would never know that underneath I have excess skin from my weight loss or that I carry a pretty prominent scar on my belly from my hysterectomy.  Nor do you see the scar on my breast from a lumpectomy or the multitude of scars on my shoulders and back that removed cancerous cells which saved my life.  Yet my smile, my look of contentment – my happiness is genuine.  I am, for the most part, comfortable with my body.

I recently came across an article from The Huffington Post about a woman who has launched a project called Under The Red Dress.  Beth Whaanga is a cancer survivor that bravely and gracefully speaks out about the physical toll that cancer takes on a human being.  The link above will take you to her story.  The following link will take you 7 images of Beth.  The first one shows her in a beautiful dress, hair done and wearing makeup, however as you scroll through the photos you see another side of Beth – a woman whose body has been through cancers, surgeries, rapid weight loss, reconstruction.  The images are not meant to shock but to educate.  You can see these images here.

While the Under The Red Dress project is to bring awareness to cancer survivors I felt compelled to share Beth’s story here on my blog for anyone who believes that she is is somehow ‘less than’, whether it be loose skin from weight loss or heavy scarring from major surgeries.  No body is perfect.  We all have flaws.

I hope the above photos, though they may look extreme, shed some light on what’s hidden beneath and that we continue to break the stereotypes that manipulate women into believing that we have to be perfect in order to be an accepted part of society.  I commend Beth Whaanga and fully support her project.


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  1. Caron says:

    Here’s an article about four women who thought they would like to be seen as beautiful Photoshopped models with all their imperfections taken away. After seeing the finished pictures, they were more confused than happy. I thought that was very interesting. http://fstoppers.com/women-react-to-being-photoshopped-as-cover-models

    I see people who’ve had plastic surgery and it looks like their faces are melting and their lips are so huge. I wonder what they looked like before they did that. I’m not sure I’m growing old gracefully, but I’m sure I’m doing nothing to hide the fact that I’m aging. The mirror doesn’t scare me which is a good thing. :) PS: Your photo is great and especially your big smile.

    • Ellen says:

      Thank you for the link, Caron. I was amazed when I saw this, though I shouldn’t be I know. It is a good compliment to my post – thanks for sharing :)
      Hope you have a great week! xo

  2. I love this post – and while I am not 100% happy with my body right now, it is my body, I only get one and I’m proud of what it has done. I think that it what will lead me to complete body acceptance.

    • Ellen says:

      You most definitely should be proud of what your body is capable of, Laura. It serves you well, especially in your super-long runs. I admire that so much!

  3. Vickie says:

    My advice on excess skin –

    REALLY good underwear (control bottoms do wonder with excess belly skin, everything is better with the right bra, go to a specialty shop for proper fitting, not a department store)


    Free weight upper body work

    Yes, there will still be excess skin left, but those things help a lot (for moderate amounts of weight loss, high/high amounts of weight loss is tough situation . . .as I write that I realize what has happened to our society because I am thinking of moderate as loosing 150 lbs. or less . . .)

    And I think it is important to do the Pilates/free weights type of work all through the weight loss phases to give our body the chance to kind of mold back down.

    Ellen that picture is adorable. Really great.

    • Ellen says:

      Thank you for this, Vickie – what a great contribution to this post.

      …and thank you for such a nice compliment on the photo. I was surprised to see one turn out, I was so anxious that day! lol

  4. ” I am, for the most part, comfortable with my body.”

    This is priceless…it’s so incredible to feel this way, isn’t it? And I have found the more I embrace being comfortable with my body, the more I want to take care of it…

    By the way, I am proud of how old I am :-) I get to be 51!!

  5. Didi says:

    Awww, you look so cute in that picture. You always have really good hair cuts. I like to dramatically change my hair frequently, so it’s nice to see other ladies with interesting (non-boring) hair too.

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