I went shopping for some new bras and panties yesterday. As I stood in front of the full length mirror in the JCPenney dressing room wearing only my jeans and a bra I looked at myself under the florescent lights and several thoughts crossed my mind. I look thicker, bigger than I wish I did. My stomach with it’s loose, wrinkly skin makes me feel shame instead of pride, even though the stretch marks and loose skin are a reminder that I carried five of the most perfect babies in the world there. My upper arms are flabby and lack any muscle tone. My breasts are too large and my waist is too big. I’m too short and muscular. I’m 5 foot 2 1/2 and I weigh about 123 lbs. Height and weight charts say I’m healthy and normal, but I still struggle with my negative thoughts when I see myself in a mirror and often find myself stamping the image with a “Not good enough!”
If you could go back in time to another dressing room about 8 years go, when I was about 80 lbs heavier and could read my mind, you’d find the exact same types of criticisms happening. And, if I could go back even further to my 115 lb high school self, standing in the Shopko dressing room where my mom worked, you’d surprisingly hear the exact same things! It got me to thinking about this problem that many women and girls face in the US with negative body image. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why can’t we look at the exact same reflection in the mirror and acknowledge all the wonderful, praise-worthy things we see? The powerful quads, the beautiful, shapely curves, the healthy body that has the energy and ability to run and play with the five cutest kids on the planet or run a marathon or ultra?
I used to think that “If only I could lose this weight, I’d be happy!” That might be the biggest surprise after weight loss. The same mental baggage you had as a heavy person is still with you as a thinner one. I think it takes the same kinds of self-discipline and training that we do to lose weight to retrain our thinking and learn to accept ourselves, flabby tummy skin and all! 🙂
I saw a sign repeatedly at my last 100 mile race that simply stated, “Every step is a gift.” It is! I have family members and friends who aren’t able to run at all. What they wouldn’t give to have the chance to run a race again with healthy joints and stamina? My body is such a treasure, a wonderful tool, that functions well. I want to change my thinking patterns. I have five children with a variety of body types. They are all healthy, strong and beautiful! I’d like to start retraining my thinking so that I’m a positive example to all of them about self-acceptance and confidence – no matter what my size!
There was a show on Netflix that my daughters and I watched over the summer called Drop Dead Diva. It was about a dimwitted but beautiful model who got into a car wreck and died but then when she got to heaven she pushed the ‘Return’ button and came back — in someone else’s plus-size body! What I enjoyed about the show was watching the plus size actress strut around smiling, flirting and being entirely happy in her new shoes. She was fun to watch because confidence is the most attractive asset of all and she was bursting with it! She was happy with herself and I’d say the character, Jane, is the kind of gal I’d like to be too — happy in my own skin no matter what the scale says!
My friend, Rachael shared this video today of a personal trainer who was being criticized for her body and her video response is genius and really drives home the point that even if others criticize our bodies, ultimately, it doesn’t matter one bit. We need to choose to accept ourselves first. That really is the only person’s opinion of you that you need – so make it a good one! 🙂
Watch the video and I think you’ll agree. Then hold up your head and remember to count your blessings and be thankful for being YOU – no matter what your size!