I overheard a conversation the other day between a mother and a daughter. The mother was “encouraging” her daughter to exercise more and eat healthier. The girl was 15 or so. And her 5’6” frame was womanly – that is she had curves – but not overweight. She plays sports, rides her bike, and heads to the gym with her mom a few times a week. I had a visceral internal reaction.
I wanted to scream, “She is beautiful just as she is!! Leave her alone!” I wanted to strangle the mom and hold the daughter.
When my reaction is so strong, and judgmental, there is usually a reason. I have learned over the years to turn the spotlight I’m shining on what I perceive to be wrong attitudes or injustices in someone else back toward myself. It’s not a pleasant thing to do. I often find ugly and disturbing things lurking in my mind and heart. This time, it was a mix, because I had to look at my own attitudes about body image (which tend to be pretty distasteful) and how I talk to my own daughter about her body (which tend to be filled with sweetness and grace).
I thought about what standards I use when determining what is health and what is beauty. When does striving for health become unhealthy obsession? When does “loving the skin I’m in” become laziness?
I know the images of women I see in magazines and on TV are fake – made up, airbrushed, digitally altered. (If you don’t believe me, check out this great video by Dove.)
How fair is it to use that as a standard?
I thought about how I love (or hate) my own body. It doesn’t look like it did when I was 15. Not even close. When I was 15, I liked my body. It fit me. I liked my hourglass figure. Not too big. Not too small.
Now that I’m 42?? Well, there are curves in places there weren’t before. And I often catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and wonder, “Who is that woman with the double chin and the wrinkles around her eyes?”
But still, my body has served me well. It gave life to and nurtured five human beings. It played in the park with my kids, swam in the ocean, and cheered loudly at sporting events and recitals. It cared for my husband when he was terminally ill.
And then I asked myself this question: “What about my body do I like?” Even though it’s so different than it used to be, different than what I see on the big screen or on a billboard? Is it okay to have things about me, about the way I look, that I love? I think YES!! I’m not a number – on the scale or in the clothing store. Even though I have a long way to go in how I think and care for my own body, I’m starting with this list. My top three things about my body that I love:
1. My eyes – they are blue. Ish. They can change color depending on what I wear. And the wrinkles I’m seeing around the corners mean I’ve laughed a lot. I like that about me, too!
2. My hands – they are feminine and slender. They let me type fast. And I have natural nails that grow on their own.
3. My dimples – deeper now than they were when I was a teen. They give my smile character and an extra something special.
What about you? What do you love about your body? Post a comment here or on Facebook or on Twitter by Friday, June 29 at 9 p.m. We’ll put your name in a drawing for a free Bioelements Rich Intensity Body Cleanser so you can show your body some love!