Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How's Your Body Image Today? Wait, Don't Answer That.

I have spent 26 years in my body. Aside from the first nine and very confident years of my life, do you want to know how much time I’ve spent actually liking that body?

Maybe 400 days all together.

At the age of 9 or 10 I hit a chubby phase and I just didn’t know how to get out of it. When other girls my age were losing their baby fat and looked like little string-beans, I was gaining. My confidence quickly declined.

To console myself, I ate.

I remember eating handfuls of sugar from the baking cupboard, just because there were no other sweets in the house. I envied my younger brother, who seemed to be able to do the same thing and not gain an ounce.

To console myself, I stayed in my room and read books while he went out and played basketball.

My weight went down in high school because I was going out with friends all the time instead of staying at home where the cookies were, but after that it was once again a struggle. Being a stay-at-home-mom and getting through three pregnancies have made it even more so.

And I can’t pin all of the poor self-image on weight issues. I always knew I’d have those because, well, there just aren’t a lot of Skinny Minnies in my family tree. On days when weight isn’t a concern, it’s other things. Stretch marks. The way my eyes kind of go down on the ends instead of up. My “man hands.” My nose. The mole on my neck that my kids sometimes find and pinch. Saggy boobs. Thighs that touch. My sometimes painfully-obvious mustache.

There are so many nit-picky little things I see when I look in the mirror.

I’m sure you can probably relate. You may even be thinking, I don’t know why she thinks she’s got so much to complain about, look at ME.

I know what you mean. Because I look at other people, maybe even you, and think the exact same thing.

But something in me has changed. It is growing slowly and I hope it continues. It started the day I learned that I would be bringing a little girl into the world.

In the time since then, I have been thinking more about what I tell myself about my body. Because I want things to be different for her. I don’t want her to struggle with her body image the way I have struggled with mine. I want her to look in the mirror and see those sparkly blue eyes, sassy curls, and perfect pearly skin and know she is beautiful. Even more than that, I want her to look in the mirror and see past the outside. I want her to smile at her reflection because she has laughter and confidence and peace inside. I want her to believe me when I say to her the same thing she always says to me –

“I love your heart.”

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that my “issues” magically disappeared overnight because I wanted to change things for my daughter. I have good days and bad days. I still want to cry every time I see numbers on the scale going up instead of down. But now, when I take a moment to reconsider, I am able to see how screwed up that is, and at least that’s a start.

I guess something we should be asking ourselves is, “Who is telling me I’m not good enough?” Is it “the media?” Men? Celebrities? Models? Society? No. I’ll tell you who it is.

It’s you.

We are all stuck in this horrible habit of telling ourselves we’re not good enough. And until we can start to look past all that, there is little hope for future generations of women. For our daughters and granddaughters. For their daughters and granddaughters. The cycle will continue until we stop expecting so much from each other, but more importantly, stop expecting so much from ourselves.

And it’s hard.

But here’s what I think – if we start doing more to be honest and loving to our own bodies and the bodies of those around us, no matter what they look like, we can do it.

We can do it, because it matters.

It matters because we will never learn to live with love and happiness if we can’t accept and appreciate our differences, no matter how big or small they seem. 

From the smartest woman I know.


  1. I love this. I saw a youtube thing (It was one of the many going around facebook) where a lady read a poem and over and over she said " I have a beautiful body" That has been going thru my mind lately as I struggle with my body image and weight. Yes I want to be healthy, but being skinny isn't the most important thing. If I feel beautiful, and treat my body as the amazing creation it is, that will spill over into how I see myself, and how others see me. If I am happy with myself, that's all that matters. God gave me this body, and I will use it to glorify Him, not the world.

    1. So true Kelcie! I think that having such body-altering experiences as multiple pregnancies can bring some painful awareness to us when we see celebrity bodies and the bodies of younger girls, but we forget that the times we feel the best are the times when we feel healthy and that we are doing good things for our bodies, not necessarily just feeling skinny. Our bodies do a great many things, and we rarely give them enough credit.

  2. I love this post! I have sent it to some friends as well. It has helped me to watch what I say around my kids and also to look at my body differently. I don't look at all the parts that I don't like I look at and appreciates the parts that I do like. Thank you for this!