How many times a day do you think to yourself, “Gee, I look great!”?
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
I never pass a mirror or reflective window anymore without thinking, “How in the world did I get to be so fat?” Or my other favorite, “Who IS that fat lady?”
“Could my butt BE any bigger?”
“Are those my arms jiggling? JIGGLING? Is that even a word?”
I spend my day motivating and encouraging others, and then I think things about myself that I would never say to another human being. And I know I’m not alone.
Women are far more critical of themselves than they are of anyone else. We take “modest and self-deprecating” to new lows every day. Next time you have a conversation with a woman, especially a woman between 35-45, count how many times she says “I’m not”, “I haven’t”, “I didn’t”, or “I don’t”. She’ll tell you ten things she did for her family and then say, “but I didn’t get xyz done”.
And don’t give her a compliment about her appearance! Women can’t accept them without telling you at least three negative things- as though trying to achieve some cosmic balance for their moment of pride. On any given day I can guarantee that the first young woman you meet, from about 12 on up to 60 or maybe 70, will tell you that her skin, hair, nails, lips, or eyelashes are not living up to her expectations. I know a woman who is ninety and still going to the dermatologist for creams and magic potions to make her skin smooth and beautiful! I have news for her- I’ve seen her children and grandchildren and her skin condition is 90% genes, 10% magic potions! My maternal grandmother, my mother, and I could have used all the magic potions in the world and never had her skin.
Weight and physical condition compliments will bring out the demon in women. That’s when we really go for the jugular! Fat women know they are too fat. Thin women know they are too thin. Women who meet our “just right” standards will tell you they are “out of shape”. Everyone wants to lose that last five pounds that will make them the perfect human being. Everyone wants to run ten miles and bench press 150lbs. Bumps, lumps, bulges, curves, and dimensions must be in compliance with society’s rules and regulations: smaller on the bottom, bigger on the top (even if you have to buy new ones).
Where and when did we get the idea that "a thin person= a good person”? Botticelli might have loved, even honored me! I blame Twiggy for my self-loathing. Why she was so admired is a mystery to me now, but she was the standard during my formative years. If you didn’t have visible bones, well, you just weren’t starving. It took me a few years to admit that I would never be that thin, no matter what I ate, or didn’t eat. And it took my marriage to Gary to realize that some people can eat ANYTHING they want and still be thin. There is nothing to be admired or envied about them except their natural metabolism. For years Gary ate three times what I ate and stayed under 145 pounds! And he loved junk food- still does!
I worry that our current generation of women is oblivious to the fact that many of the stars and idols of weight control that they so admire are the products of drugs, money, obsession, and benevolent genes. They don’t deserve admiration or emulation if their size and weight is due to diet pills, surgery, or extreme regimes that require 24/7 focus. In fact, I’m not sure why they deserve admiration at all, if their only redeeming quality is their appearance! I read just the other day that one famous trainer will “never ruin her body” by having a child! How sad to understand her misguided priorities.
It may seem off the subject, but a few weeks ago I watched a Dr. Phil show about tanning and a young woman admitted that she would probably die of cancer due to her excessive tanning, but she would make a good-looking corpse. Is that where our standards have led us? Is that what our young women think- it doesn’t matter if you die an early death as long as you look good in your coffin? The young woman on the show might have been an extreme example, or perhaps have been exhibiting a bit of false bravado because of the cameras, but it was clear that even after the show she was going to continue to spend hours in the tanning booth.
I think I first began to question the importance of appearance after my first encounter with a fire victim. The woman and her husband were visiting at my in-law’s house. They were obviously in love with each other and carried on an animated conversation with my in-laws. They had just returned from a vacation at a national park. They raved about their experiences and the food and their success at rock-hunting along the route. What fascinated me was that half of her face was a mass of scars and destruction. I kept thinking “how is she brave enough to even leave the house?”. And then I realized she was much more concerned with what she did than how she looked. Any time I get overly concerned with my appearance I remember her joy and enthusiasm for life.
I’m not sure where else to go with this or exactly where it needs to end. Definitely, I need to change my own attitude about my current weight problems and stop approaching the scale and the day with fear and self-loathing. I have made some important changes in my diet that have affected my health and energy, even though they haven’t yet impacted my weight and appearance in any major way. And I need to be more positive and encouraging to the young women around me who seem so bent on putting themselves down for each and every little short-coming. I need to make sure that my daughters and other family members know that who they are is much more important than how they look.
So…ladies, we need to celebrate who we are today and give ourselves a pat on the back for all that we accomplish. We need to cut ourselves some slack about the whole “beauty is…” thing and realize that we only have to meet our own standards, not those of the media, where everything is “smoke and mirrors” or Photoshop!
The next time you pass a mirror today, be gentle, be understanding, BE POSITIVE! Treat yourself with the courtesy and consideration that you give to others. I’ll try to do the same.