So, I’ve been in this little trough of self-loathing. I’ve been looking through the pictures that Photographer Friend took, trying to figure out which ones to print. There are over 400 pictures. That’s a lot of looking at myself. And I’m not liking what I’m looking at. I mean, the pictures are ascetically beautiful photos. Hubby looks his usual devastatingly handsome self. But why didn’t they cast someone a little better suited for the girl? Because I just keep seeing a large behind. And huge thighs. And very wide hips. And a puffy stomach. And a big nose.
I see everything that’s “wrong” with me. Everything I should be working harder to “fix.” Everything I perceive to be a flaw.
And that’s my biggest flaw of all.
I know all of the logical arguments. Celebrate diversity. Accept yourself for the unique individual you are. It’s the differences that make life wonderful.
But, you know what? That doesn’t happen.
A lot of women I know have a tendency to do this same thing to themselves. We’ve had long, self-depreciating discussions about it.
When I see a picture in a magazine of a famous actress playing with her kids on the beach, looking amazing and beautiful (and normal), and the caption says that she’s “let herself go” what does that say about me?
I worry about how that affects young girls just trying to grow up, when they see and hear not only what women say and/or feel about themselves (I grew up seeing my mom constantly unhappy with how she looked, trying every diet out there. And I have my mom’s shape, so what did that mean for me?), but what society puts up as the standard of beauty.
I swear this really happened…. A woman not much older than me chided her 10 year old daughter (a beautiful, bright, active girl) at a restaurant for not only using an entire pat of butter on her bread, but then having the gall to want another piece. And then, upon finishing her meal (cleaning her plate, if you will), the daughter was told, by her mother, that soon she’d have to take up smoking so she didn’t get fat.
Oh. My. Gosh.
What message are we sending?????
I can remember being told by a (non-parent) relative that “if I didn’t eat so much cheesecake, maybe I could have gone to the prom, too.” How should I have taken that as a high school junior? Who hadn’t been asked to prom? And already had issues with body image?
I have always, all my life, tended to be rounder. I take after my mother’s body type. I’ve always been an active person, just like my dad. I love to cook and to bake and to eat, which I learned from my grandmother. I have my grandfather’s nose. It was God that made me, and therefore, a little piece of grace resides within me.
Shouldn’t those be good things? Shouldn’t I be able to celebrate those things?
I should. I know that.
And it makes me very happy to know that I have these pieces of me that come from people who are so important and special to me.
And I do have those moments of celebration.
Why, then, do I have these periods of time where I can’t look in a mirror because, eww, ick, gross?
I’ve been bigger than I am now. I’ve been smaller than I am now. But I’ve never really been able to like how I look; never really been able to be accepting of myself. I don’t think I’m ugly. I don’t think I’m fat. But if I have to state something good about me? Um. I have long nail beds.
I can read this article and know that this woman desperately needs to lighten up and eat a cupcake, while at the exact same time making myself feel a truckload of guilt because I want to have a muffin while I read my book.
How does that work? And how to I step outside of it?
Is is possible to really, truly accept (dare I say love) myself for who I am right now? Not just for a fleeting moment, but just as a normal state of being? Not pine for who I could be at some magical date in the future, where I'll be perfect? (A date that simply does not, cannot, will not exist.)
Work in progress.
(photo: Gemmer Photography)