I grew up with a mom who is THIN. I mean, she has always been thin, always will be thin. She gained less than 20 pounds with both of her pregnancies and I’m sure lost the weight about a month after giving birth. She is a powerhouse with yoga and walking and eating healthy and self-deprivation. I, on the other hand, AM NOT. I have always struggled with weight and body image. My entire life. And I’m sick and tired of it.
I am someone who eats healthily – to a point. I happen to be vegetarian, and while the misconception is that it’s healthier to be vegetarian, that’s not the case. I was a very unhealthy unbalanced eater for a lot of years. A few years back I changed the way I ate and really try these days to eat real food. Not processed, if I can help it, but sometimes I do. I am not killing myself to get back in shape, because what is in shape anyway? I just want to be healthy.
I talk about body image a lot because we all deal with it, men and women. And the facts don’t even matter. You can be super thin and feel like you are fat. That’s why it’s so hard to conquer. It’s deceptive and cruel and illogical. After having babies, we feel even more self conscious of ourselves than we did before. Well, guess what? I am on a mission to be just fine the way I am, as long as I am healthy and doing the best I can. The negative self talk has GOT to stop so I don’t pass it on to my babies.
I will have chocolate and pizza and french fries and some junk on occasion. But for the most part, I eat real food. Lots of fruit and veggies and natural stuff. I never feel hungry. I feel pretty happy most of the time and I truly believe what we put in our bodies can greatly influence how we feel. Garbage in, garbage out – you feel me?
I also truly believe we can change the messages we send ourselves. I’ve done it with drinking and smoking, so why not body image, that tricky bitch?
I mentioned my mom earlier, and for years and years I had her voice in my head asking, “Do you really need to eat that?” That’s what she asked when I was growing up and a teenager who was a bit overweight. I would sneak food and feel really guilty about it. That was the message I had for a long time as a woman too. I heard that voice telling me, “You don’t need to eat that, you’re fat.” When you have to sneak something, there is a problem. On a few levels.
Now that I have a daughter, and my mom is older and gentler with both my daughter and me, I can’t ever imagine her saying anything like that. But back in the day she was battling her own demons and passed them on to me. I completely get it. TODAY. However, it re-enforces the idea that I AM RESPONSIBLE for making my children know that they are beautiful and perfect just as they are, as long as they are eating healthy. At least until society really fucks with them, until then they are mine to start molding for a while.
They will see and hear mommy loving her body and eating healthy. They will hear messages not of “good food” and “bad food” or “fattening food”, but learning by example of what dear sweet dumpster husband and I put in our mouths around them. They will inevitably want to try what we are eating.
I am changing the message. I am demolishing the old messages and creating new, loving, encouraging messages to both myself and to my kids. I have a nasty habit of ripping on myself in the looks department. This morning, when one of my favorite guys I used to smoke with outside the Tower told me I look smokin’ hot (see what he did there?), I said, “thank you, that’s very sweet of you to say that.” With a look of I know you don’t really mean that but are just being kind to the post pregnancy lady. He looked at me and said, “I’m gay. I’m not sweet about how people look. You, girl, look really good. But your smile is the best part.”
And you know what? Today, I choose to own that shit. I do look good and for the sake of myself and my kids, I am going to project that I FEEL GOOD. I look good and more importantly I feel good. I don’t know what’s happened, and it’s happened gradually, but I love my body now. I’m telling myself that over and over and guess what? It’s working. I look at myself both naked and clothed and I actually smile at what I see. And not in a funny way either.
Can you imagine what it would be like if we ALL tried to change the messages and helped each other and built each other up instead of tearing each other down? It would look AWESOME. That’s what I want for my kids. I bet that’s what you want for your kids too. It starts with us, as they mimic what they see and hear. It ingrains itself into their little psyches and then into their world and all they touch. Let’s start changing the messages, together.
Flat stomachs are overrated. I have so much more to worry about than whether my arms are drooping or my belly looks like I’m still a little pregnant in the dress I’m wearing today. I guess I’ve gotten to the point of acceptance. This is big you guys. My body is a wonderland. I will keep repeating this in my head as long as I have to in order to believe it and change the message.
This little belly right here – is just proof of how far I’ve come. I wear it proudly. I hope you do too.
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