Some days I wake up and absolutely hate my body.
I hate what I see. Hate what I don’t see. Hate. Hate. Hate.
Full Disclosure: I am not unlike millions of other women who suffer with issues of low self-esteem, due to poor body image, and I’m as guilty as the next person of looking at a photoshopped image on a magazine cover, and wondering why I too can’t attain that perfectly svelte, stretch mark free, AB-tastically gorgeous, figure on its cover. Yes, please, give me that body…I want that!
That said, after the birth of my daughter, I had to start coming to grips with the demons that had become the driving force behind my image obsession. Why did I work so hard, at times even starving myself, to look like someone I couldn’t be altogether sure truly looked like that at all? Was there really something wrong with me, or was it just too many years of negative, media-driven, programming that was responsible for this awful state of mind?
Whatever the case, I knew one thing was certain, I didn’t want my daughter (now six-years old) thinking this way—nope, not my breathtaking, vibrant, smart, talented, and funny little princess—FUCK THAT! Yes…FUCK THAT! The idea of her ever feeling that way was akin to someone ripping out my heart, stomping it into a million little pieces, grinding it into a fine pepper, sprinkling it on shit, and then telling me to “eat up”.
Yes, I know that’s extreme, but that still only gives a partial picture of how strongly I feel about my daughter not giving into the bullshit messages this world chooses to send about who can and cannot be gorgeous.
Ya know how you go to theme parks and ride those awful contraptions called roller coasters? They’re fast, frenzied, out of control, and can make you lose your lunch, if you’re crazy enough to hop on one after downing a hot dog or two? Well, that’s my current thought process, 24-hours a day, where my body is concerned. I am literally up and down about what I see. At times I marvel at how all of my hard work has paid off, while others I am disappointed that I’m not yet on the cover of Oxygen, Shape, or Self. At some point, I convinced myself that this vessel is all that matters. If I can’t get it right, then to hell with the rest; the rest might as well be suspended in purgatory for all it’s worth to my self-esteem.
But I digress…
My daughter is the one who has centered me best, and brought me to the starting line of healing the pain that goes along with having such a poor image of my body and, by extension, myself. I understand now that my image of me effects her own image of herself because I am her first real connection to how the world’s view of what is “beautiful” can effect your own view of yourself; it’s because of this that I’ve become more aware of how I interpret the messages I continue to receive. I don’t want her to feel like she has to adhere to any standard of beauty because, in truth, the only opinion that should ever matter is her own. So, I stopped speaking out loud about how I wish I could look like this or that person, stopped drooling over photoshopped magazine covers with unattainable beach bodies, and stopped allowing myself to be openly judgmental of her or anyone else that didn’t fit the standard that I had come to be ingrained with recycling through my own words and actions.
And while I am still a work in progress on all fronts—I’ll be honest, it’s still easier for me to preach the message than to live it 24/7—I’m working on it.
In the meantime, I’m trying to learn how to love my body and accept myself unconditionally. It’s tougher on some days than others, but it helps to have positive people in my corner as well as the desire to be better for the one set of eyes that means more to me than a million others—my baby girl’s.