Let’s talk about body positivity shall we?
I read this post by Nikki a couple of days ago and it’s been weighing on my mind ever since. So much of my self esteem and self worth is tied up in how I look and I hate it! Because I am still worth everything, fat, thin, ugly, pretty, I am a person, with a story to share, with real emotions, I work to be a positive contributing member of society. I hold down a job, I am a mother to the best of my ability and yet when I look in the mirror, I judge myself, not by who I am but by what I see.
That is not body positive.
For so much of my life, (everyone’s lives really) We/I’ve been judged on the way I look and to a large degree I’ve allowed that to define me but it’s such a double edged sword, constantly striving for perfection while being perfectly imperfect.
This message was further complicated for me.
And I’m sure for just about every woman out there. There was a moment in your life, seemingly insignificant to others, that had a HUGE impact on how you see yourself.
For me, it was when I was about 9 years old, I may even have blogged about it before, so forgive me if I’m repeating myself, but I was in church with my brother and my parents. Friends of theirs that they hadn’t seen in years approached and complimented them on their two handsome sons! I was mortified! And from that moment on, my internal dialogue was forever changed. I am always conscious of looking feminine after having been mistaken for a boy. It’s the first question I ask my husband when we get dressed to go out, does this make me look like a boy? That internal dialogue runs in a loop inside my head and it’s been impossible to leave behind. Being as tall as I am and far from what one would call petite has further compounded it. And then, of course, comparison is the thief of joy, so constantly comparing myself to other women who are smaller, thinner, cuter, more, whatever than me, I constantly come up short in my estimations.
Add to that the pressure to be beautiful….
And weighing that up against the comments I’ve overheard about myself, it’s impossible to look in the mirror and love what I see. I am my own worst critic and the struggle to live up to societies standards of what is considered beautiful versus the messages in my head make body positivity very difficult for me.
‘”She used to be such a pretty girl till she got fat!”
“Gah, you look so much better with make up on!”
etc etc etc ad nauseum…. has led to me believing that I’m worth nothing without a pretty face and a thin body to match. That’s not flipping healthy. And logically, I know I am so much more than a face and a body, I’m a spirit and a soul and a legacy. Also, the older I get, looks fade and then what? You’re just an empty shell of what used to be.
Obviously my infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss didn’t help either.
They served to further feed into the belief that I wasn’t a real woman and I wasn’t worthy of love and respect if I wasn’t picture perfect beautiful and thin and perfectly made up all the time.
Now that I’m getting older, it’s gotten easier in some ways and harder in others to accept all of this. So much of my self worth is tied up in how I look but time is marching a steady beat in the lines and wrinkles all over my face and NOTHING and NO ONE can stop it.
I want to die when I share a selfie, for the longest time I didn’t and even now, they’re often not comfortable for me, all I see are flaws, lines and wrinkles, sagging jawline, loose skin. And the way people reacted to me when I went on my banting journey also fed into the internal dialogue of me not being worthy unless I was perfect. Because as awful as it sounds, people did treat me differently when I went from 118kg’s to 85kg’s. I was taken more seriously, I was noticed more, I was praised more and again, that fed right back into my self worth being tied up in the way I looked.
Gah, I’m not even sure where I’m going with this long ramble except to say that it’s complicated. And raising daughters has made it even more so. I want to learn to love myself, all of myself, because I do love who I am but I don’t love how I look, is this not the curse of women everywhere? I want my daughters to love themselves. I want them to know they are worth so much more than their faces or their bodies, that it’s their spirit and their souls that really count. I want them to see my life long struggle with weight management in a positive light and not as a recommendation to diet from age 10. I want them to know that you can love yourself and still strive to be better, stronger, healthier. I want them to know that they are worth more than a pretty face or a thin body. That those are not the things that make a person attractive in a long term sense. Their minds, their spirits, their characters are what will make them great and make them memorable and make them timeless.
Let’s just say, that at the tender age of 45, these are still issues I struggle with. Far too much of my self worth is tied up in the way I look, in part because of what society teaches us, in part because of the messages I”ve received and in part because I bought into all of that crap.
But how we look is not who we are.
That learning to love yourself for who you are and not how you look is a life long journey, that you can accept and embrace yourself for what you are and still work to improve yourself and be a better version of yourself. That liking the way you look has far more to do with body posivitiy and embracing all of you than it does with being vain.