Image: bathroom scale via Shutterstock
This past Friday night, I awoke from my sleep in a cold sweat, nearly in tears and downright angry.
In my dream, my husband had just finished a conversation with, "And by the way, I think you're ugly and I hate your thighs!"
Of course, he would never say this. Of this I am absolutely positive. And when I told him about it he laughed and said, "That's ridiculous!"
And he was right. But the whole thing left me wondering if maybe something deep down in me has always sort of believed that.
Let's go back a ways...
At 11 years old, I was the kid with bottle cap glasses two sizes too big for my face, frizzy hair from a bad perm, and chunky thighs.
No matter if I was a little overweight or right where I should be, I've sort of always had chunky thighs. My mom said I was born that way.
As I was watching home videos with my family recently, I was reminded of the little girl I had almost forgotten.
Unaware of the awkward imperfections of her 11-year-old body, that girl wasn't afraid of the honesty of the camera lens.
She didn't hide.
17 years later, there I stood watching the younger version of me flit about with no shame about her body. I caught myself feeling a bit embarrassed for the little girl who didn't know she had anything to be ashamed of.
Unaware that I was anything less than perfect.
What happened to her? When did she stop being free?
When did she start feeling the need to nit-pick every square inch of her body, determined to hide or change anything that wasn't up to par to the standards of her culture?
All I know is that somewhere not long after then, something changed. And at fourteen, I set out on my first mission to lose thirty pounds in a few months because I wanted to feel like the normal girl I felt I wasn't.
I've spend far too much of my life trying to be normal.
For my height and age, the internet says my ideal weight is 120 pounds.
Do you have ANY idea what I would look like at 120 pounds?
I do, actually I've been there.
And for a short time, I felt great because I had finally achieved "normal." Until the comments started about how I looked too thin and unhealthy and the questioning if I was throwing up to lose weight.
So at 5'6, 120 pounds is normal for whom?
I walked past the Victoria's Secret window the other day and sighed inside at the realization that all of those girls look the same... and I don't look like any of them. And for all of my not having the slice of birthday cake when everyone else was, and for all of my guilt on the days when I didn't work out or run a few miles - I would more than likely never look like them.
Does this mean I have somehow failed? That I haven't suffered or sacrificed enough? That something is wrong with me?
There is a fine line between discipline and obsession. One that maybe I have dared to cross far too many times in my quest to be as beautiful as the magazines tell me I could... if only I would commit and stick to the right workout routine mixed with the perfect diet.
I stand in front of the mirror and pinch the skin around my hip bones and abdomen tightly -- the same ones that carried two babies for nine months each -- and wonder if I just need to go on a total carb strike or if I'm not drinking enough water. Or maybe I need to understand that my bone structure is just my bone structure and there is nothing wrong with me! So unless I am comfortable with removing a few ribs and shaving a little off of my hip bones, my body isn't ever going to have that straight line in the middle complimented with all the right curves in all the right places.
"The beauty is in the imperfection."
That phrase looks so beautiful in scrolly writing on a Pinterest quote, but no one actually believes that when it comes to women and their bodies.
I know the truth.
It's the getting the truth from my head into my own heart that's the struggle.
However, the older I get, the more comfortable I am becoming in my own skin. I have my strong days. Like today, in which I threw my hair back, no makeup with glasses on and went out to face the world feeling confident in the natural beauty that is mine... with or without the makeup and freshly blown out hair.
And as we rode along in the car, my eight-year-old daughter pinched the soft squishy part of the back of my arm and we laughed.
And now I find myself staring at her as she dances and twirls to the music she turned up loud, and I wonder how much more time before she stops believing that she is wonderful.
And how much of what she sees in me will be the very thing that blinds her to her own beauty on that one day soon, when she is seventeen?
And so last week I threw my bathroom scale away. Chucked it right in the garbage can.
It was freeing!
Because who I am, how beautiful I am or whether or not I am normal has little to nothing to do with a number on a scale.
We have an entire media culture yelling out the wrong message about beauty to women and then wonder why the younger generations of girls have no self-esteem and no self-respect.
When was eating and exercising to be healthy not enough?
I've just decided that whether or not I eat the cake or don't, if I take the stairs or ride the elevator, the motive behind it all needs to change.
And that may mean that I'll never lose the chunky thighs or flappy arms.
And for the first time, I'm making peace with that.
There is freedom here.
It's past time to stop saying things we don't mean. "There is beauty in the imperfection" is true, it's just up to us girls to put the magazines down, and start believing in truth.
Because there is nothing any more beautiful and captivating than a women who believes that she is absolutely stunning... imperfections and all.
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