One of my family members has been asking me for months how she can lose weight. What she should buy for groceries; What supplements to take; How she can be healthier; What she should do!!
I often give her my advice and we don’t discuss it for a while. Then it comes up again, often followed by a “will this make me lose weight? I want to lose 10 pounds.” Or something similar. I will precede the rest of this story by saying this particular family member is beautiful and I love her.
Similarly, I meet a variety of individuals through my job. One teenager that I met was recently diagnoses with genital herpes and asked me for advice on how to handle herself. How she could ever tell another person her story. How she could live a “normal” life this way. She was horrified and embarrassed. From her, I learned that teenagers are participating in even more sexual activity than I imagined, without taking responsible precautions. It makes me wonder if our education/social systems are failing them…but that is another topic.
I realize these stories are seemingly different, but they really aren’t. They are just some of the stories I encounter that remind me of just how horrible our (societal) concept of body image is.
Even though we are beautiful, healthy, humans, we are constantly striving for more. I am sure everyone has a different idea of what is considered a perfect body. Perhaps it is having more muscles and being toned. Perhaps it is taking steroids and doing small reps of high weights to get really BIG muscles. Maybe it is being bony and having the sought after “gap” between your thighs. For some, it could be a desire to weight less than 120 pounds no matter how tall they are.
People expect certain things of others. Sometimes they expect to find their own idea of whatever perfection is in another human being…and its a mess. From the time we are very young, we see images of what a “beautiful” woman looks like. For me, it was super skinny. Size 2. Flat. No curves. Thats what I always strived for. Even into my 20s. I worked out harder. I ate less. I felt awful, but at least I fit into my size 2 jeans….somehow.
Let’s all remember that I am 5’9″. Being a size 2 shouldn’t really be in the cards for me.
No one told me when I was young that I was blessed with a beautiful bum. Or at least I didn’t believe that it was a good thing. To me, it felt HUGE. It felt unacceptable. I always thought my thighs were too big and my abs weren’t flat enough. Pants never fit me. Or at least in the size I thought I should wear.
So we start out with this idea we get from somewhere about what we should look like; not what makes us feel good; not what we actually look like. So, at least in my case, we start adapting ourselves to someone else’s idea of sexy. We get worried that if we don’t have these certain assets that people (men in my case) won’t be attracted to us. We listen to what others say is attractive. We spend all of this time trying to be someone that maybe we aren’t.
This makes me really sad. And completely terrified to have children. I don’t want my little girls to think they should be any different than who they are. I want them to be confident in their own skin.
So I am trying to be comfortable in mine.
I noticed that when Lance and I started dating, I started taking better care of myself. I ate better. I ate MORE. I probably eat twice as much now as I did then and my weight hasn’t really changed. Mind you, I am eating good food. All protein, fruits and veggies. Nothing processed. All fresh. I FEEL better. I feel energized. And confident.
This may seem contradictory to my point about not changing so others find you attractive; but its not.
I am ME. He showed me that I am perfect just as I am. I am emotional. I make mistakes. I have flaws. I don’t have to exercise for 2 hours 7 days a week. And he loves ME. Not my body.
This doesn’t mean I don’t care for myself anymore. I just care for myself differently. I eat well. I exercise about 4 times each week and we have an active lifestyle. In the last 6 months, I have gained 5 pounds and my shoulders are broader. My size 2 and 4 pants don’t fit great. My cutest shirts are too small. So, I gave them all away. At first, I freaked. But then I thought…why don’t I just buy clothes that fit ME. Not the other way around; and how good did those pants fit in the first place?
I just want to talk to every young person and tell them they are perfect. They don’t need to be skinny. They just need to be healthy. And skinny isn’t always healthy. No matter what someone else thinks they should look like. I want to tell them that people do exist that love a person and not an image. .
In my opinion, being fit and healthy means taking care of yourself. Exercising a few times a week, avoiding refined sugars and processed foods. There is not a quick fix. Being healthy is a lifestyle change and a lifelong commitment. It takes work.
So when my relative asked me if she’d lose weight with the recommendations I gave her, I said..probably not; but you’ll feel a lot better. And you WILL be healthier. 2 cups of vegetables beats a bag of potato chips any day. Even if they (vegetables) are higher in calories. They are calories your body will use. Not empty ones that get stored in the nooks and crannies of our bodies. And don’t be afraid to eat! As long as its a healthy food choice.
Be yourself. Be confident.
You have a booty? OWN it. Other people are jealous of it.
Own your skin. Love it. And flaunt it.