Skin Fold Challenge
Honestly, I can’t believe I am about to share this. Partly because its personal. Partly because its a tad controversial.
However, I am proud of myself for standing up to fear, and I hope this inspires you to do the same.
In my first tutorial for my Nutrition, Health & Performance class, the learning objective for the lesson was mastering how to properly conduct a skin fold test. Yes, the skinfold test designed to measure a client's percentage of body fat. I don’t see the point in pinching your skin to accurately assess such a mundane part of human physiology, but for various reasons, and especially some sports, it can be important to maintain a certain percentage of body fat to ensure maximal performance. We could go round and round about the cons of measuring someone’s body fat, but that isn’t the purpose of me sharing this experience.
This is about me swallowing fear and feeling comfortable in my body.
There are about 15 others in the tutorial, but I am the only exchange student. When the professor asked for a volunteer, I hesitated for the very blunt reason of being half naked in front of strangers. Yet, a small part of me realized that it would be a great challenge for me, and for being the “stupid American”, I felt like I could get away with it…(yes, sometimes my thought process doesn’t make much sense). And after listening to my professor emphasize how sensitive tests like these are and if “we don’t eat, we rob ourselves”, I was beginning to feel more comfortable in the environment.
I raised my hand after what felt like 5 years of awkward silence and eye contact. In the beginning, she demonstrated how to make the correct marks and how to measure with just my tank top on. My stomach dropped to the floor.
Then came the dreadful…
“Do you mind taking your top off?”
For anyone, that question already seems uncomfortable with a group of strangers. For someone who has gone through ED treatment, the question seems unfathomable. Especially since my insecurities stem from my stomach, opening up that vulnerable side of me felt unbearable.
But I did it anyway.
“What the hell Emma!?”
Because my goal this year is about leaning into fear. Yes, I realize that having her perform this test could be very triggering for me. And could push me into a spiral of my old, unhealthy habits, but I also understand I can’t continue being afraid of my body. When you sit through therapy session after therapy session, you (hopefully) start to understand that the beginning of recovery is finding confidence and self respect from within yourself. That its not really about the food or body image. We all have insecurities. We all hate being vulnerable because it makes us uncomfortable. But at least for me, it’s slowly starting to hit me that I spend all my time with my body. Why do I have to have a negative relationship with it when it loves me? Why does it matter if I look a certain way? (Again, we love the question ‘why’ :)
And what am I sacrificing when I choose image over authenticity?
After class, I was on a high. My confidence was soaring. I didn’t volunteer for anyone but myself. Looking at myself in the mirror with the lines drawn on me, I saw strength. Despite being terrified about the “what ifs” and future internal challenges that may develop as a result of my decision, standing in front of everyone brought me to another level of self efficacy. Another step towards being comfortable with myself, even with the flaws and body marks.
There is much more to me and to my life than fitting in to size 0 jeans. And that goes for you too.