I had to go back to my January post where I stated my goals for the year in order to see what I am supposed to be working on. One of my goals this year is to be more positive. This includes silencing negative body talk. I think that in general every person in the world has something they dislike about their bodies. It’s normal to have an off day where our flaws seem to be magnified every time we look in the mirror. It becomes a problem, however, when flaws are all we see.
One of the biggest problems, in my opinion, is that we are expecting perfection. We compare ourselves to others and wonder why we don’t look like them. The answer is simple: they are them and you are you. We cannot expect to find happiness in comparison. It never leads anywhere good. Women have gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to body image. Everyday we are assaulted by media images of scantily clad women who look perfect in every way. They don’t have a mark on their bodies. Their slim hips, perfectly perky breasts, and long legs taunt us short, un-skinny women. Now, most of us know that a lot of these images are doctored with photoshop. Nobody is perfect, and those that were blessed with the genetic disposition for that flawless look we all covet are not immune to negative self image.
I think that a person’s health is between themselves and their doctor. I really don’t like it when people make mean comments about a person’s weight or the food they eat. It’s nobody’s business but theirs. I also think that overall good health is much more than numbers on the scale. There are other indicators such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and insulin resistance that tell us a lot more than mere weight can. That’s not to say that I don’t believe that weight isn’t a risk factor, because I really think it is. I just think it’s wrong to assume that a fat person is automatically unhealthy. That is simply not true.
Something else I take issue with is the idea that a woman should be judged based on the clothes she wears. I personally don’t like skimpy clothes and prefer to dress modestly but that doesn’t mean that everyone else needs to do the same. Similarly, the idea that somebody shouldn’t wear something because of their weight is silly. If they are comfortable in it that’s all that matters. I used to spend a lot of time criticising people in my head for what they wore. I am still guilty of this if I’m honest. Back when I was still working it really amazed me at what some people thought could pass for work-appropriate attire.
Growing up it was perfectly acceptable for adults to comment on a child’s weight and development. “You’re too fat!” “You’re too skinny!” “Oh my, look at the boobs on her!” When I think back at the times I was fondled and humiliated when I was younger I want to scream. That is not acceptable. It is never acceptable to remark on a person’s physical attributes regardless of their age. It’s no wonder that so many young girls develop low self esteem. We are basically telling them that how they look trumps everything else.
It has taken me what feels like a long time to get to the point where I am comfortable with my body. I am not perfect, I am definitely overweight (by a lot) but I am okay with that. I don’t need to have a perfect body to be happy. My stretch-marks are faded, remnants from puberty and pregnancy. They’re nature’s tattoos. I am purposely framing them in a positive light because why should I poison my own mind with the negativity that is so easy to fall into? I have more important things to do than lament how my stomach has a few marks, or how it isn’t flat, or how it’s just a little flabbier now than it’s ever been.
I remember reading an article or blog post a year or so ago that talked about how a child didn’t see his/her mother as anything other than beautiful until they saw how much their mother hated her own body. That has always stayed with me and while I don’t have a daughter I do have a son and how he sees women starts at home.
I don’t love my body everyday, but I try. And I love it enough to take care of it because I want to be around for a long time. It’s the reason I am working on losing weight. I want to feel good. Looking better (to myself) would be a bonus. Also, should I decide to do the whole baby thing again (hey, miracles do happen) I want to give myself an advantage. I was lucky last time, I actually weighed considerably less at the end of my pregnancy. A second pregnancy could go in a completely different direction. In looking ahead to the future I realize I need to keep my options open. I am not sold on the idea of another pregnancy but should I decide to go for it I want my body to be up for the challenge.
Whenever I write these posts I am always hopeful that if anybody reads them that they will perhaps feel less alone in their thoughts. We don’t often discuss, rubbing thighs, stretch-marks, cellulite, and flab. These are topics that aren’t considered polite and maybe I wouldn’t discuss them out loud in the middle of a crowded room but maybe we should. I hear enough about erectile dysfunction on the radio and television, my topics are decidedly more tame.