I read a quote that said, “I wish we could donate body fat to those in need.” Like those poor, homely Victoria’s Secret models. Right?
I mean, unless you’re born with amazing metabolism or just super into fitness, it’s incredibly difficult – almost impossible, in my opinion – to maintain the body image we really want to have.
On top of the pressure we put on ourselves, we are inundated with “You’re not enough” messages: ‘Nip, tuck, tighten those up; aren’t you tired of that [fill in the blank]? Businesses spend billions of dollars to tell us that we should be dissatisfied with the way we look, and that if we just bought their product we’d be so much happier.
I do not deny that I succumb to these messages. I mean come on! I had two kids in two years! I’m still trying to lose that “baby weight,” and my youngest is 11.
I think all the moms have had their share of body guilt and shame; self-inflicted or not. We endure stretch marks, deflated boobs, extreme exhaustion, and for all my c-section sisters, two words: “the flap.” Need I say more? I’m all about wearing it as a badge of honor and all, but can I just be honest? I can’t even do jumping jacks without a little pee incident. You know what I’m talking about! It’s the same reason I can’t mosh pit anymore. When we become moms, as a new mom I know had the revelation, “Our bodies are not our own!”
Thinking back though, I’ve always struggled with my body image. Growing up, all my friends were 20 pounds lighter and 5 inches taller. I was a respectable size 6…okay, an 8…
When I had a daughter I realized that she repeated everything I said – whether it was a catch phrase or a favorite Friends quote – verbatim, in the same tone of voice that I used. She even nags my husband the way that I do (whoops on me, that’s my bad, Babe). So when I started paying attention to what I was saying about my body, I thought about what it would sound like if I was saying the same things to my daughter about her body:
“Yikes! You need to get that muffin top under control!”
“Look at that ugly, double chin.”
“Your belly looks like a road map.”
“Make sure you tie a sweater around your waist. No one wants to see your jiggly butt in that outfit.”
“Oh WOW, age and gravity have NOT been kind to you!”
Pretty sure I cried for an hour. Because, why would I EVER say those things to my daughter? From the moment she was born she was absolutely perfect, and she gets more beautiful with every passing day.
But the truth is, I could have been saying those things to her because our daughters echo what they hear from us. They watch our every move. No matter how they express it, they want to be just like us. I can tell her she is beautiful all day long – and it would be 100% true, but how can she believe it if all she hears is how much I hate any given image of myself?
Maybe you aren’t a mom of girls. Maybe you’re a sister, a youth leader, a mentor, an aunt. Your girls are listening to you, too.
What would happen if we celebrated ourselves, no matter what stage of happy we’re in? Hey, I have 30 pounds to lose. I’m working hard at that, but I’m so tired of being sick of the body I live in. I was looking at some photos of myself from 8 years ago and thought, “Look at how hot and skinny I was!” Then I remembered, “You know what, I hated my body then too.”
I’ll sometimes have to fight really hard against negative thoughts (and those windows downtown that might as well be fun-house mirrors) to have a positive self image. I’m always going to have goals to get healthy, stay there, to feel pretty and confident and look fabulous in that little black dress. But as God is my witness, I’m done with being unhappy in my own skin. I’m done beating myself up and being disappointed when I’m not a size 0 or my super hot friend Luna. I’m going to work toward being happy with exactly where I am and who I am. Not only do I owe that to myself in order to be a happy, healthy mom and mentor, but the true reality is someone is listening, watching, and she is perfect just the way she is. I want her to believe that with her whole heart, and she won’t know it without my help.
When we are confident, lovely, and kind to ourselves, we raise up daughters and friends who are confident, lovely and kind to themselves. And doesn’t our world deserve that? I think it totally does.