I have decided that I am going to do something (almost) every day that either scares me, intimidates me, something I have been putting off or just have always said I don’t have time to do. No time like now, right? So, for today, I am going to do something that scares the shit out of me. Talk about myself. And (gasp) my body.
This morning, as my children were giving me the most amazing morning hugs, my oldest felt my belly and said, “mommy has a big belly.” My first instinct was to be upset, tell him that isn’t nice to say. And then, I decided to ask him what he meant, after all I was assuming I knew how he meant that comment. “Well, yes. Mommy has a bigger tummy than you. I have lived many years more, and had two babies. Do you think a big belly is a bad thing?” At this point, I am nervous for the answer. Rejection from my children seems unbearable right now. “No. Mommy belly. I love you.” Wow. Astute. Started me thinking. At 5, he is noticing differences in bodies , but he has no judgment of it…at least not yet.
But as I replay that, short and yet powerful, conversation in my head, I keep thinking. I tell my kids they are awesome. All the time. Like my parents told me. And I mean it, as I am sure they did. However, I still grew up hating my body. All of it. Wasn’t one piece I liked. Why? I am sure some of it was from the media and the pictures I had in my head of beauty. But also, I think it was how I saw other people, specifically women, treating themselves and their bodies. My parents, my extended family, my friends, my friends families – people say different things to other people than they do themselves. They love other people more than they love themselves. And, I think we have proven over and over, that we learn more from observing and experiencing than by telling. Diets, makeup, money on hair and nails, all for the pursuit of beauty. For who? Others or themselves? Better hair, not eating that amazing piece of pie, does that really make you a better you?
For my entire life, I have been ashamed of my body, of my appearance. After having my kids, I decided I wanted to be able to run around with them and lift them and be there for them for a long time to come, so I started working out more. I ran more regularly, started paying attention to what I ate. I was also chasing two small children around so that helped. I ran in my first 5k after my sons. Got my mile time down to under 10 minutes. Awesome things I am proud of. But even as I did that, and as, over the span of two years, I lost over 60 pounds, I still chastised myself and my appearance. Now, I will say, I am happier with myself now than I was, but still look at myself in the mirror and find flaws. So, what will my children learn about that? Most likely, the exact opposite of what I want them to learn and do to themselves. I work hard to be healthy and to feel good, have confidence, but no matter how hard I work, it doesn’t seem to be good enough. I am ashamed of this realization. I am teaching them that beauty is the flaws they see in the mirror.
Over the last year, I have started cross training a bit. Lifting more, working on building muscle tone. I have gained about 8-10 pounds back. I have been trying to not let this bother me, as weight (somewhere in the recesses of my mind) is directly correlational with health and beauty. Silliness. I am in the best shape of my life, I can run and play with my kids, I, most days, pay attention to what I eat and I am trying to teach my kids those lessons. They like to be active. They ask me when I am going to go on a run. They want to walk on the trail with me and do my Nike Cross Training app with me when I do it. They love my body the way it is, because it is me and they love me. So, today, I am sharing pictures of my body. Of me. Scares the hell out of me but I will, hopefully, feel empowered. I have come a long way, still have a long way to go. But if I don’t embrace myself and my imperfections, then my children surely will never learn to do that for themselves. Beauty is strength. Is fighting when you are tired, and holding others up when they are down. Beauty is being able to love who we are – flaws and all.
So…here it is. Me. I am bearing it all. My thoughts…and my body. Because if I don’t love all of who I am, no one else can. And people should love themselves. Everyone should embrace who they are, where they have come, where they are going. Their strength, their fight, their ambition. Flaws make us what we are, individuals. We are perfect in our imperfections. And I certainly want my children to see themselves as perfect…humbly of course. 🙂