I’m trying to think of a time when I had a conversation with another woman that didn’t circle around at least once to an issue, frustration or perhaps, downright disgust, with our bodies.
I want to lose 10 pounds.
What is it with my hair?
I wish my hips weren’t so curvy.
Why is my belly so fat?
I’m going to start flying away with this arm jiggle situation.
My toes are a weird length.
Yup, it happens from our head down to our toes.
When does our self-imposed Mean Girl-ing ever end?
I HATE MY BODY
Our whole lives, society has taught us to find fault in our body. That’s how the beauty industry sells us, how the weight loss and food industry sells us, and how media encourages us to admire and aspire to be these unrealistic photoshopped women.
And, yet, we’re also supposed to be deep in self love and body positivity.
Easier said than done, right?
It’s such a contradiction.
It’s taken 38 years but I think I’m gorgeous, strong and awesome. I’m really proud of the woman I’ve become. I’m proud how I care so much less about what others think. I am so proud that this body has grown a human being, and I can embrace the stretch marks and body changes that enabled me to do so.
I’m proud that this magical body is determined and strong enough to work back from a serious neurological condition that left me paralyzed for a month.
Perhaps your body helped you fight back from breast or another cancer, from MS or addiction or heart disease, diabetes or anything else. Fighting through health issues can give you a newfound appreciation (and frustration) of the inner workings of your body.
But I’d be lying if I pretended I never felt fault or frustration when I look in the mirror at what’s on the outside. As hard as I try, I can’t stop seeing these damn dimples on my thighs, a stomach that’s never flat enough and a face that, without makeup, is not as pretty as “that girl.”
Yes, I just admitted that. Because it’s time to cut the crap and be super honest.
I’m not looking for comments to tell me I’m wrong or that I’m pretty. I’m telling you this because I was the girl who growing up was bigger than most of the girls in her class. I got my period first, I developed boobs earlier and was just pudgy, going through about a two decade awkward phase. I didn’t feel pretty or like I fit in, and it’s hard to work your brain back from those formative years.
Have you ever felt like you loved every inch of your body?
Like you seriously loved it, madly and deeply?
I’ve always had a hard time removing self-deprecating thoughts about “needing to lose weight” or what will happen by eating certain foods.
It’s a mental game filled with negative thoughts that I hear us all talk about. My friends. Family. Colleagues. My grandma. I mean, my gram is way to gorgeous with a full and incredible life to have the negative self talk at this point. I always tell her to eat the cake. And, she for sure should get the fries instead of the salad. She can even eat the bun on her burger.
I mean, I think I’m too old for this… and yet….
It seems we never age out of it.
Can that really be?
Will these thoughts never end?
Because I’m not OK with that, and neither should you.
Think about this.
We shouldn’t be OK with it for what it means for our own mental and physical well-being and, even scarier, what we can be passing down to our girls.
We are not born with these thoughts.
And, so I’m insanely careful about the way I talk about myself and others in front of my daughter, and I ask the same of family as well. You should see how quickly I give glaring looks to any family member who references someone’s weight or size. It’s somehow become a cultural norm.
Regardless however, even though I focus on words like strong and healthy — because I do believe I am both of these — its become keenly obvious for at least two years that our girl (she’s now eight) is keenly aware of her body… mostly, what it “should” look like.
For the record, it’s not OK that a five or six year old girl thinks there should be a standard or size for beauty and our bodies.
It’s not OK for our little girls to notice and struggle that some girls are thinner, and that bellies are “chubby” or too big.
It means that I am failing her, that our media is failing her, and that our culture is failing her.
We are each made perfectly, and exactly how we are meant to be.
If we believe that about our girls — which I do — then it means the same for us.
Be kind to yourself.
Your weight does not define you. I’ve been 30 pounds heavier than I am now, and 15 pounds less than I am now and I promise you that I wasn’t happier weighing less, and I wasn’t unhappy weighing more.
Perhaps we become more critical with age as our bodies continue to change and evolve. I swear 37 was the year all the stuff starting showing. The wrinkles started becoming more prominent (not intense, just noticeable) and somehow what you were doing to lose weight, was basically what you need to do to stay the same.
Still, it doesn’t matter.
We cannot continue to torment ourselves.
Do not let it stop you from going to the beach, from wearing shorts, or playing in the pool with your kids, and one day your grandkids.
Do not let that determine your happiness.
I refuse to be in my 80s critiquing my body. It’s taking me places and I’m grateful for that. If I’m not going to be OK with it then, there’s no point in continuing one more day.
I won’t pretend I can turn this switch off instantly in my brain that has provided these thoughts for 38 years. But I can stop giving it power.
We need to stop these thoughts in their tracks. Because they’re not who we are and it’s cruel to speak to ourselves like this.
Let’s start somewhere. Together.
Join the Conversation
Crystal KomaraApril 13, 2018 at 1:54 PM
What an inspiring read. One thing that I remember growing up was watching my 80+ year old grandmother worry about whether or not she should eat the fudge because she wanted to lose 10 pounds. Imagine that! 80 years old and still concerned about her weight and body image. I thought that was really sad and I hope I do not think the same way in another 40 years. . . Grams, just eat the d*mn fudge, you deserve it!
AlysonApril 16, 2018 at 9:35 AM
LOL, right?! My gram is exactly the same at 87 years old… it’s bonkers to me. I feel the same. Let that serve as a learning experience to both of us. <3
SamApril 13, 2018 at 11:48 AM
YES. Thank you for this! Negative self-talk is something we all struggle with, and it’s terrible. I was also the girl who developed first, and there’s one picture that sticks out in my mind where I look like a giant next to my tiny friend. Of course, that was as tall as I got and now I’m considered petite. But regardless, I think it’s really important to love ourselves as we are because what we feel about ourselves projects out and affects how people see us…and life is so much happier when we feel good on the inside.
AlysonApril 16, 2018 at 9:37 AM
YOu are so right, Sam. That’s exactly how I want to live my life — though I recognize that’s easier said than done — because I’m seeing life goes so quickly. Wasting our mental energy on these things is simply a waste of our time. <3
MelissaApril 13, 2018 at 9:39 AM
Such a good article. I did a very gently yoga this morning because of the very bad health of my back. The whole time I was mad at myself for the rolls and dimples instead of being thankful for another day of my body being able to be healthy overall and put one foot in front of another. 🙂
Why are women this way??!!
Your article made me laugh when you talked about puberty…..I was always that girl too!!! 🙂
Thanks for putting this out there!
AlysonApril 16, 2018 at 9:39 AM
Been there, Melissa. Think many of us are mindful of these mixed moments — pride and happiness over taking a class or feeling strong, and then yet, seeing a part of our body that brings us down. Each day, hope you can see a little more of your gorgeous self; I’m going to do the same alongside you. Thanks for commenting!!
Kimberly SmithApril 13, 2018 at 6:16 AM
Love this post and I couldn’t agree more! I am guilty of the same negative self-talk and can get so caught up in the comparison game at times. I want better for my daughter and I try so hard to instill in her a confidence in who she is and teach her that beauty is far more than skin deep.
AlysonApril 16, 2018 at 9:45 AM
Absolutely. It’s so much easier said than done — I think we can all agree to that — but each day, it’s worth trying a little more. Plus, you’re too gorgeous on the inside and out to feel otherwise. <3