I'm standing in the dressing room trying on clothes and those 3 mirrors are in there I think sometimes to torture me. I put the clothes on and can get a view at every possible angle. Just like anyone who would possibly see me in the outfit. As if they even probably care about how I look in it. It is my critical eye that then asks whoever happens to be in the dressing room with me: "Do I look fat in this?!" Well, that's a trap question just waiting to happen because if they say yes, I'm totally crushed and if they say no, I will say, yes, I do. Let's face it, it's a lose, lose situation.
I grew up in a decade where looks and weight in general were very important. Everybody wanted to be Twiggy. Don't know who Twiggy is, you say? Gosh, you sure must be young. Google it, friend. Yea, as if it were even possible to look like Twiggy. I was born a chubby child and was never super skinny, however, now in my fifties I've decided that I should be. OK, stop it; I can hear you laughing out loud. But it's true. And why do we feel that way? One Word: Hollywood. More specifically, society, in general.
I suppose this unrealistic body image phenomena began around the time I was graduating high school. Dieting was the "thing". Because really, could anyone be too skinny? As I would flip through the teen magazines there were "perfect" girls with "perfect" completions and "perfect" teeth and "perfect" bodies. That was sending me a message that if I wanted to be liked and pretty, I needed to be a skinny, clear-faced "perfect" girl. In the movies the actresses were not just pretty they were gorgeous. Skinny bodies and beautiful faces. It was etched into my (and many other young girls') minds that THIS is what I should look like. Hmmm...what I had not taken into account, what my immature mind had not been able to understand was that we come in all sizes and shapes. And it's OK.
How could I not understand that it is normal and OK to not have your bones protruding? How could I not understand that it is normal for teenagers to have pimples? How could I not understand that not everyone is going to like you whether you are physically beautiful or not? How could I not understand that beauty is not just on the outside? How could I not understand these things when society is influencing every single thing I think about my body image? How could I??
It took many, many years for me to understand that I'm OK. Am I aways satisfied with how I look? Do I still have a critical eye whenever I look in the mirror? Of course, I'm human. However, as I have aged, I have looked deeper inside myself. I turned to yoga as a form of mental and physical exercise. (No, I'm not Buddhist; I'm Christian.) Yoga has made me turn inside and allow me to see who I really am. To not judge myself too harshly. To slow down. To love myself for who I am and not who I want to be. It's kinda my thing. I have chosen to focus on being "healthy" versus being "skinny". But for me, this has been a struggle because as we all know, "Old habits die hard". But I am a work in progress.
If you are a mama out there raising a girl I beg of you to encourage your child to embrace who they are and not who they want to be. Praise them. Complement them. Let them know that being different is OK. Show them that you adore them for who they are. Trust me, it will make a world of difference in their lives.
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are
wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:14