Hello Tink75. Congratulations on finding someone suitable to share your life with, who accepts you for who you are rather than defines you by a quirk of circumstances. You are certainly not alone in worrying about body image as people who want to sell us 'things' push the concept that the way we look on the outside matters. In your post, you ask how other people cope with this, so I take this as an invitation to put my own perspective on this issue.
I view what we see on the outside as 'surface' perspectives, often referred to as 'shallow' because it rarely penetrates the surface. Many folks are fooled by this perspective and like what they see in those who concentrate on getting this surface image 'right'. I, on the other hand, am not very interested at all in what I see on the surface, but am much more interested in what's beneath the facade. This is ofter referred to as 'personality' but I feel it is much more than that. It is the way we think, behave and interact with each other. It's about beliefs, values, morals and desires for others as well as ourselves.
We cannot ignore how people percieve us, as the saying goes: 'First impressions count'. I sometimes take this into account when dressing for certain occasions such as representing someone in court or playing some other 'respectable role'. I am occasionally badgered by my wife to wear a suit and be 'smart' when we go out to dinner. However, as I have pointed out to her many times; there are more ways than wearing a suit to be 'smart'. How many people do we know that look smart, yet soon after we strike up a conversation with them, they do not seem 'smart' at all. For my part, I have never been too concerned about what I (or others) look like on the outside. I want to know what they are like on the inside. Then and only then, do I make my assessment as to whether they are worth continuing interaction with.
They say that 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder'. In my case, the 'eye' is a euphamism for perception. I think that 'beautiful' people are the ones who seek to make life better for everyone and not just for themselves.
I could go on forever about aspects of this subject but will finish with my own AIMS for today by which I try to live.
AIMS FOR TODAY
1. To BE – THERE
2. To be CONSISTENT
3. To be HONEST, GENUINE & SINCERE
4. To be NON-JUDGEMENTAL
5. To LISTEN: Empathetically
6. To keep things CONFIDENTIAL
7. To ENABLE & EMPOWER (DIY process)
8. To show POSITIVE REGARD (unconditional)
9. To show RESPECT for INDIVIDUALITY
FEELING & NEEDS
10. To FOCUS CARING (according to my principles)
As you can see, the above list has nothing to do with how I look on the outside and everything to do with how I treat other people. Needless to say I have put these aims into rhyming verse because that's the way I usually express things I feel are important in life.
AIMS in RELATIONSHIPS.
In relationships I proclaim.
That it is good to have an aim.
So think of how much better then
If I increased my aims to ten.
My first aim is to be right there.
If you’re not there how can you care.
To be ‘there’ - for someone.
Has got to be aim number one.
To be consistent is number two.
Then people can rely on you.
They’ll know you will not let them down.
And they’ll know you’ll be around.
Next, I’ll try to persevere.
To be honest, genuine and sincere.
So honesty and sincerity.
Will be a top priority.
Non-judgemental’s number four.
For no one is without a flaw.
Judgements bring things to a close
So this is what I would oppose.
Listening is a lovely thing.
And true friendships it can bring.
Listening’s something that’s still free.
My listening comes with empathy.
What would I choose for number six
For good relationships to fix.
What has potentiality.
In number seven I justify
My belief in D.I.Y.
To ‘my’ will no one will cower.
I try to enable and empower.
Unconditional positive regard.
Can sometimes be a little hard.
So I will try to show respect.
And relationships perfect.
It will come as no surprise.
My last aim tries to emphasise.
That I will focus on these aims.
And principles from which they came.
B. Withers 2007