Little Changes

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!

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17 responses to “Little Changes

  1. Okay, first of all….I am a People addict : ) Everything you said is so true. The media, ugh it’s horrible. Also I too would never say the things I say to myself to anyone else, nor do I even think them about anyone else. I like the follow it up with a positive thing….but here is how it goes in my mind, well I do get complements on my hair a lot BUT it’s falling out and half of what it used to be and it’s all I got going for me and it will be gone….seriously? That is how I talk to myself. I know it’s crazy because I can sit her and KNOW that it is crazy but how do you shut your brain up??? I am thinking…………….I want to join the revolution but I have got to think of how to join!!! I’ll get back to you on that one! Thanks for making me think!!!

  2. Yes, the media is insane! They keep talking about how bad they are, but yet they don’t change. Tyra Banks (although i really like her) especially talks about not bringing stick skinny models on to her show, yest take a look at all the models on her show. If she thinks they aren’t stick skinny then I would hate to see what stick skinny is!! Also, take a look at any tv show during it’s first season. Most of the girl characters are of an OK size. Go into the 2nd and 3rd and subsequent seasons and they get skinnier and skinnier. Think Jennifer Anniston from Friends, Tracey Gold from Growing Pains, Lea Michelle from Glee is now falling into that trap and shrinking. It’s just crazy. Who wants these people to be skinny? The Producers? Cuz its not the audience.

    Anyways, I’m gonna try to think better of myself, but it’s easier said than done. I am very guilty of looking at older pictures and thinking “Wow…look how skinny I was there, and I thought I looked fat! I must look like a cow now!”. I need to be happy with the now. Getting older doesn’t help matters at all, that’s a tough one to grasp.

  3. Kacey and Lacia—I do those things too. I think we HAVE to step away from the media and we have to retrain our brains. And, Lacia, what a good observation about the girls getting skinnier and skinnier. You are so right!

  4. I needed this today…Thanks.

  5. That last idea is very powerful. The writer Anne Lamott (can’t remember which one of her books it is in) makes the wish for herself that she could treat herself with the same generosity with which she treats her friends. That when she’s feeling ugly and small, she can wrap herself up in a big, understanding hug and assure herself that she’s okay.

    It’s a noble wish.

  6. Tiffany-

    I meant to send you an email after your initial post because it was like reading my autobiography (if I was able to write as eloquently as you do:)). I have struggled FOREVER with my self image. I know in my head a size 4 is not big, but all I see if FAT when I look in the mirror. Even now, 7 weeks after giving birth I know in my head I should be happy that I have lost all of my pregnancy weight (although I still need to shift things back into place) and most of my clothes fit, but I still expect myself to fit into every outfit I own. My husband is amazing and tries so hard to help me and forces me to look at myself without my “crazy eyes”. I try so hard to get to a point where I am happy being a size 6 and go to the gym because it’s good for me and because I feel better after, not because I feel compelled to be a size 2 or 4. I am going to try to follow your lead and every time I start to criticize myself or look at myself through my “crazy eyes I’m going to look at my 2 beautiful boys and amazing husband and realize what’s really important. Thank you again for having the courage to make these posts!!!

  7. The media fills our eyes with crap, I couldn’t agree more. We all have such a strong need in us to feel accepted and loved, and somewhere our society took a shallow turned and said “beautiful people are happy. beautiful people are loved. beautiful people are admired. Just be more beautiful and things will be wonderful in your life.” Of course it’s all lies but it’s easy to believe when we see the men in our society parade over these women. We think beauty is the better avenue.

    I think you have a good grasp on it, training the mind to think more positively.

  8. I never thought about that before – I treat myself worse than I would treat my friends or even my enemies. It’s so true. And it’s also such bullshit.

    Great post.

  9. I think you made a great point about kicking ourselves someday for wasting so much time worrying about our bodies. I look back to when I was in my 20’s or 30’s for that matter and wish I still looked like that. But guess what? I hated the way I looked then too. Someday I am going to look back at right now and wish I looked as good as I do now. So, why not enjoy it NOW! Easier said than done, but I am going to try too!

  10. Tiffany, you say it so well. A friend of mine and I were discussing body image topics and she relayed to me that Portia De Rossi was only eating 300 calories a day and that she actually hated herself even though she was thin. Of course she was battling anorexia, but the media doesn’t reveal how many of the people that they profile are battling issues of their own. Thanks for sharing your heart on this topic.

  11. I have started exercising regularly again and it is so good for me because it makes me thankful for how strong my body is regardless of what it looks like.

  12. Oh my God. What you said about not treating yourself in a way that you wouldn’t treat a friend is completely true. I would never be so harsh on anyone I know as I am to myself. I’m with you. I have two girls. I don’t want them to feel this way about themselves. All we can do is try. Right?

  13. Great post! I agree 100%! After reading your post last week, I felt the same way. I am trying to be kinder to myself and more grateful for what is good. Thanks for putting it so eloquently! Love it!

  14. I can’t read People or any other gossip magazine. But, that’s what is funny–I pretty much avoid the media and still feel negative about my body. Why? Because I have felt pressured since I was little to fit into a certain type of mold. This. Is. A. Lie. I’m not suggesting that we forget how to be healthy and all that jazz, but I am suggesting that we forget Hollywood stars and their “amazing bodies” and focus, as you mentioned, on the pretty spectacular traits we have.

    I love this, Tiffany. A great movement for all of us to join.

  15. I used to love reading Rosie O’Donnell’s magazine because she used only “real” people. The models looked like the people I know and love – people who shop in the same sections of stores that I do.
    I think your ideas are fabulous. I will focus on the good. I covet my own ass – It’s hot in a pair of jeans if I do say so myself! The gut comes and goes and I’m just gonna have to deal with that.
    You are a beautiful woman, inside and out. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

  16. Growing up my mom was always on one yo-yo diet or another. I was the chunky kid in elementary school and in 8th grade I got the flu and then I didn’t eat much the rest of the year. It caught up to me when I was super skinny, had no energy and I passed out at a scouting event. I blame it on constantly hearing my mom make comments about her weight. She was gorgeous no matter what her size was (and it wasn’t big at all). So, I vowed when I had girls that I was not going to talk about size at all. While I don’t always like the way my body looks, I remember that I have had kids and that I have the power to make myself feel better, not necessarily “look” better.
    In my house we exercise not to be skinny, but to be healthy. We play sports so we are not lazy. I try really hard to not talk about my size around my girls, and so far they aren’t too concentrated on the whole looks thing. I may still hate my thighs, but you’ll never hear me tell my girls that. Hopefully, just hopefully it will work and maybe one day I’ll believe it too! :o)
    BTW I love your post today Tiffany and it is so true about not treating ourselves like we would treat our best friends. I am so hard on myself as well.

  17. I don’t really compare myself to celebrities because let’s face it, they’re not real. But I do compare myself to other moms in the neighborhood, etc. THEY are real. And I can’t figure out how some of them look SO good and I wonder what they think about me and gosh, I sure would love to have her butt or her flat stomach. But then I try to think about other things about them that I wouldn’t want, like her boring husband or her annoying kids. In that case, I’ll take my lbs and saggy boobs, thank you very much.

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