I’m taking myself out
of the running
for who can
Once upon a time there was a mom with faulty vision. She was always seeing a reflection that was too big, too small, too squishy, too boney, too frizzy, too frumpy, too (me).
Then along came some affirming voices of reason who said all the right things, made her feel all the right ways, and fed her a smorgasbord of compliments. None of it was absorbed for long because by the time she passed another mirror or snapped another photo, she had already found another flaw.
And finally, she grew tired. Tired of self-loathing. Tired of disordered eating. Tired of getting so close to fitting the “right” mold but always falling short. And she was tired of seeing a look of sadness hit her husbands eye when he found her struggling to just be happy with the woman he loved so damn much.
So she quit. She quit measuring her food and her waistline. She quit following a strict schedule and moved her body in ways that felt better than force. She quit looking at numbers and began to see her curves as a gift. Her man did always appreciate that booty like whoa.
When she asked her daughter why she took this picture of her from behind, her sweet girl replied, “Because you look beautiful.” And do you know what she did then?
She chose to believe her.
Perhaps you’ve never felt this way before. Maybe you’ve been gifted with the ability to turn your eyes, ears, ALL the senses away from the conditioning we have been given from a young age. If so, I applaud you– loudly! There are very few of you out there. I know this because I know women. I’ve sat around tables with you at dinner and watched you debate the dessert. I’ve heard you talk about how you “need to” start exercising again because your clothes are getting snug. (P.S. Clothes are made to fit your body, not the other way around.) And I’ve joined in the conversations that were layered with self-deprecating jokes to cover up our pain. Most of us don’t look the way we think we should look. What a shame that is.
In case you think men are excluded from this conversation, they most certainly are not. They’ve been fed similar messages and have the same self destructive habits. If you were to ask my husband, he would be honest with you and tell you he is insecure about his hair, shoulder muscles, his “chicken legs” as he calls them (and only because someone else called them that first), amongst other things that I literally cannot see. To me, his hair is perfection, his shoulder muscles are firm and secure and “manly”… and his legs? Well, they’re hot. It’s as simple as that. He says I have love blindness, and that may be true. But wouldn’t it be nice if we had love blindness when looking at ourselves, too?
By the time I was just mere months past puberty, I was already concerned about whether my barely-there breasts would ever be big enough for me to feel like a “real woman.” I was already under the impression that a waist any bigger than Barbie’s would be portrayed as fat. I was fearful that if I didn’t suck in my stomach, wear a padded bra, and frame my face with my longer hair to cover up my wide jawline that I would be bypassed by the boys or inevitably disappoint one of them when they learned I was bigger, smaller, wider, pimplier than I would have everyone believe.
Turns out, I’m more disappointed with myself for caring.
These damaging thought patterns aren’t limited to teenagers. I am inches away from 34 years old and still measuring my life, my worth by my waistband. I’m done. No more. No more hurting myself. No more sad eyes reflecting back at me from the mirror. No more fantasizing about thigh gaps and thin waists and cellulite-free bums. No more inflicting pain upon my beautiful self with unnecessary, irrational expectations. No more pulling at the belly skin I have leftover from housing my children. No more keeping my “skinny jeans” in hopes that a pair of pants can entice me to sweat more, eat less, and lose myself in the process all so I could momentarily feel good about wearing something with a single-digit tag attached (that NO ONE ELSE would see or care about unless I told them). No more missing out on ice cream dates with my family because I’m “still on week two and can’t mess this up.” No more posting before and after photos after I’ve forced my body to do things it didn’t want to do all the while eating less and calling it health. No more comparing myself to strangers on the internet who have similar proportions and somehow managed to get there. Wherever there is. No more sitting around talking about my changing body because I’m neither a pubescent teen nor a woman willing to give my body measurements that much attention anymore. As a friend once said, “My weight is the least interesting thing about me.” True ‘dat.
Please, friends. Befriend yourselves. I beg you. It’s a MUCH happier life when you choose to stop the fight and learn to love your beautiful bodies even while you work on them to be stronger and healthier. Yes, I said working on them is okay. But obsessive diet culture and searching for skinny is killing us. Mentally. You are worth more than the size of your clothing, and so am I.
Dare with me to believe it.
If you are struggling with disordered eating, body dysmorphia, or loving the skin you’re in, here are some beautiful souls who have helped me more than they will ever know. Maybe consider giving them a follow, yes?