I was really upset about the reaction to this post last week. Not because I received negative comments, but because there are so many of us that feel so badly about our bodies. That makes me so sad. And if in my little tiny blogosphere over here at Elastamom feels that way, can you imagine how many of us feel bad in the whole United States? I can’t stop thinking about it. Why do we do this to ourselves? How can we “fix” it?
One thing I really think that affects us is the media. If you even think back to the early/mid 80’s, when there were only *gasp* three channels on TV, there weren’t that many images with which to compare ourselves. We had Little House on the Prairie; no one knew what Ma’s body looked like under that outfit. Or we had Claire Huxtable; I don’t know about you but all I ever noticed was that she was beautiful and smart. Or Facts of Life with all sorts of bodies and looks; I never thought of Blair or Jo as the “thin ones”. We certainly didn’t have Lindsey Lohan and Brittany Spears and Blake Lively and those types running around half-naked showing us their bodies. We didn’t have fitness magazines or shows with women with 6-pack abs in our faces all the time. People magazine didn’t run stories on “look-how-fast-they-bounced-back-from-pregnancy” stories every single week. Once a year I noticed bodies when I watched the Miss America pageant. Other than that, you didn’t really see them that often. Not like now.
I think we need to take a step away from the media. I stopped reading all magazines except for People (I’m sorry I’m a celebrityophile and I can’t help it!) because they made me feel terrible after reading them. I should probably stop reading People too…but then how would I find out that Portia weighed 82 lbs. at one point or that Wills and Kate are getting married? But, in all seriousness, I think we should stop. Those women in the magazines and on TV are airbrushed and lit to the heavens. That’s not REALLY what they look like. Yet that’s what we compare ourselves to. I would totally buy a magazine that had women in it that weren’t airbrushed or lit perfectly. If they just put normal make-up on them and took their picture…I would buy that. I would also love a TV show that showed women looking like their regular-old selves. If the whole country started boycotting these asinine projections of what we “should” look like, they’d have to listen eventually.
The comparing yourself to others will kill your spirit. I do it constantly. But that’s ridiculous! I, of all people, should know that everyone is made differently and just because you’re not “perfect” doesn’t mean you’re not worthy. So when I start to compare myself to someone, I say to myself “Maybe they’re wishing that they had your hair. Or your arms. Or your boobs.” Whatever it is, I try to turn it around and imagine that Mom with the great ass that I covet wishing she had something of mine.
I also am going to stop the whole “I’ll go shopping when I lose 10 more pounds.” That’s just crap. If I need or want new clothes, and can afford them, I’m going now. I deserve it. And always waiting until you lose weight? That feels shitty. No wonder we don’t like ourselves if we’re denying ourselves things until we’re “good enough”. I’m done with that. I think that as a working mother of three, I deserve a whole bunch of stuff for making it through the week.
I do that with other rewards too. For example, I have a $50 gift card to a spa that I got for my birthday. In April. I keep telling myself “You can spend it when you eat perfectly for a month. Or when you lose 10 lbs. Or when those pants fit again.” I’m not doing that anymore. I’m going to the spa jiggly-bits and all.
Another thing I’m trying is that when I think or say something negative about myself, I’m trying to follow it up with a positive. So if I look in the mirror and say “UGH! Look at that stretch-marked-stretched-out stomach!”, I then have to say to myself “Look at that beautiful smile!” or whatever I can say. I have got to start replacing those negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Even if it’s something small like a good hair day.
I’m really strong physically (see it’s working already…I just said something positive about myself!). I often think that it’s a good thing God didn’t make me a 90 lb. lightweight b/c how on Earth would I carry Olivia around? Or her ginormous stroller? It’s a good thing I’m healthy and strong so I can do all those things for her. I should focus on that instead of having the “perfect” body. So far, it’s been good to me as far as the kids go. Shouldn’t I worship it because it was able to carry and give birth to the 3 most precious people in my life?
Lastly, I’m going to try to think of myself in the same light that I think of my friends. I would NEVER, ever talk to my friends that way. I wouldn’t even talk to my enemies the way I talk to myself. (Not that I have enemies, but if I did…at least I don’t think I do. Hmm.) So I’m going to try to view myself as I do my friends. Matt always teases me that I think everyone is beautiful; I do. I think everyone has something about them that makes them beautiful. Trust me, I think there are people out there who could use some help bringing it out (Hello? People of Walmart website anyone?) but I do think people are beautiful and have potential. So why can’t I see it in myself?
I’m trying to focus on the non-looks related things that I like about myself more. I’m a good mother. I’m a good wife. I’m happy and positive most of the time. I’m good at math. Like really good. Like I’m a high school math teacher good. Teenagers kind of think I’m some sort of goddess because I can do math. Those kinds of things. Because pretty soon I’m going to have white hair and a menopause pouch and lots and lots of wrinkles and I will be mad at myself for wasting all that precious time worrying about my body.
So what changes will you make so that you can start feeling better too? Come join me in the revolution!