Friday, February 15, 2013

To the girls: I've figured out a few things about body image

Late winter and early spring are a time I take a more intense than usual hit to the body image. We have the holidays, starting with Thanksgiving, moving through to Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Years. Due to the way weddings and births fall out in our family, I feel like I've just gotten back to my base state after all that when early February hits and I'm faced with out anniversary, our daughter's birthday, Valentine's Day, and Fasnacht Day (Fat Tuesday). Last Friday, after a week of celebrating and not weighing myself, I stepped on the scale after my workout, and the words that came out under my breath will not be repeated here. Seriously, I might lose my job if I shared what I said here.
It was that bad, what I said and why I said it. 7 pounds in one short week!

The first thing I thought was, "Time to get back on the bandwagon, self!"

My next thought was, " I can't share on facebook how crappy this weight makes me feel, because I have way too many teenage girls on my friends list and I'm a youth advisor, so I have to set a good example."

Then I asked myself how much attention any of those teenage girls, or indeed, anyone, actually pays to me.

So I have spent the last week thinking about what I've managed to figure out about body image. I'm fairly fir and have had no more than the almost obligatory flirting with eating disorders, so I must have figured out *something* .

It's OK to vainly worry about how you look. This encompasses the whole enchilada: weight, hair, clothes, etc. There's a thread running through several cultures: feminist, religious, crunchy; that if you're vain, you're somehow emotionally stunted. Guess what: I'm all of the above, and I'm vain. Live with it. However:

It's not OK to judge others for not adhering to your standards of beauty. Size, clothing style, hairstyle, makeup, tattoos, piercings.... these are all choices people should be free to make, in line with what makes *them* feel good. Minimalist style with no make up, body art with skillful eyes, and everything in between: all valid. There's a bit of a caveat, in that people should know how NOT to dress in certain situations and places,  and I am personally the world's biggest fan on hygiene. Parents, if you make no effort to teach your children that showing up for a job interview in sweat, un-showered, and with matted hair is *not* acceptable have dropped that ball.

It's also not OK to do crazy things to fit a number  Eat real food, exercise some every day , and think twice before you drink calories. That's common sense, and with patience can get you to those goals. Keep in  mind, you goal can just be feeling healthy and energetic. It doesn't have to involve a particular weight or pants size. From time to time I try silly shortcuts   to try and lose an extra 5 pounds , but they never seem to work. No we probably won't hurt ourselves trying some crazy detox water we saw on pinterest. But starvation diets, week long fasts, and anything else like that will either end up causing physical damage or have you face down in a plate of mashed potatoes a day and a half in, feeling fat and like a failure.

So girls, if you're reading this, here's what I say. If you are happier moving through your day covering the bases of being clean and wearing clean clothes, that's awesome. If you spend an hour getting ready for your day, that's awesome. Because it makes YOU happy. Be happy in yourself. Really, not feeling like crap helps with this. Grab an apple and go on a walk.


At 9:05 PM, Blogger Lone Star Ma said...

My only addition would be that if one is someone who is kind of wrapped up in the looks thing, one needs to realize that it is necessary to have other strong important things to be wrapped up in as well, because - possible shallowness completely aside - those things don't often last. You want your identity and happiness in yourself to still be there when you are a wrinkly old crone.

At 10:53 AM, Blogger Jenna Carodiskey-Wiebe said...

Oh, yeah. I do think I have that one down, personally. I'll still be knitting way 40 years from now.


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