Just a short post this morning but one that I feel like I need to make. When I write a post, it’s because an idea has been gnawing at me for a bit. Either that, or I start writing in my journal and the need to write about it here overtakes me.
I saw this video yesterday – you may have already, but it bears seeing again. It’s amazing how differently we see ourselves than how others see us. One day I was at the gym, and I commented to this one girl that I wished I was thin like her, and that I didn’t look like the hulk because of the strength work that I do. Now, I know I’m not the Hulk in actuality but I do have a stockier build. My body is strong in many ways, and for that, I am very glad and proud. But I still look at other women some days and think, wow, I wish I had thin legs like they do. And lately, with my stomach, I think if you had me draw a picture of myself or describe myself, I would describe myself with a belly that appears bloated. Like one of those women who when you look at them, you wonder “are they? or aren’t they? [pregnant]” and you don’t say something because you don’t want to offend them. A friend of mine recently told me that she thought it my stomach was just one of those areas from which some women can’t lose the weight. That’s how I know it’s real.
Thing is – if I want to be a trainer, I can’t have a stomach like that because folks who don’t know what a hernia looks like (and I’m not sure I even do now) will think that I have a weight problem in my abdomen. They’ll be able to see that my oblique muscles are pretty well defined, and on their way to having what women would call a six-pack, save for that bulge in the middle that looks soft, but in actuality, is not. So, if they suggest surgery to me, that’s what I’m going to do.
That’s how I see myself. The woman who I complimented on being thin — she looked back at me and said “don’t say that. You’re gorgeous. I see you working out so hard here every day and that’s more than a lot of people can say. And besides, I’d love to have boobs.” (So, yes, we all see ourselves differently than others do.)
I hope you will enjoy the video like I did. I smiled when I saw it.
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I’m thinking I might make this a regular series of posts – sometimes it may be more links than text, or a video to share, etc. I think it will help me and I hope you will find comfort in them too.
4 thoughts on “Things That Make Me Smile”
I know I don’t see myself the way others do. The words people use to describe me are never the choices I would use for myself. It’s weird that we can’t see ourselves the way we actually are!
I thought of you, Jill, and Alissa, when I was writing up this post, knowing how you have both struggled with body image issues. Had you seen this video before? For what it’s worth, I see you as a beautiful woman, with a really good heart, inside and out, and a wonderful mom. I know the pregnancy wasn’t something you exactly planned for, to say the least, but you have done so well. I am really proud of you (hope it’s ok I use the word “proud” even though I’ve had nothing to do with it!)
I’ve watched this video before but I appreciate you bringing this conversation to light. Because I have a teenage son I am around young women struggling with cultural stigmas about beauty and it’s heartbreaking.
My left leg was saved (thank God) but left terribly disfigured and two inches shorter in a motorcycle accident one month before my 19th birthday. That was 40 years ago. During many months of recovery I came to realize that if my looks defined how I thought about myself and how others felt about me, I would never be satisfied, I’d never be happy. I decided to focus on being the person I could on the inside . . . it’s a constant journey.
I went through several skin grafts and surgeries that were medically necessary (because there was no skin covering the area of the compound fracture) but they did not cover the 6″ x 6″ scar. I was presented lots of possibilities to remedy the scarring but because it would mean using pig skin, I refused. I also had the option of 2″ removed from my right leg (I lost 2″ of bone in my left leg, the impact site) so that I wouldn’t suffer back troubles and need to wear a lift for life. I declined. In spite of all the grim outcomes that were presented to me, I have lived a happy, healthy, productive life.
I’ve made a choice not to concern myself with what people think about my size, my looks, my long hair at almost 60, none of it. And it’s not made one iota of difference in my life. What I’ve come to see is that the more we focus on our looks in our younger years, the more frightened of aging we become. Of course now there are all sorts of surgeries, etc. that we can do to stall the process but we know that who we are on the outside is not real, not authentic. I don’t begrudge anyone for trying to stall aging in our shallow culture but it’s just not for me, I don’t have the time to waste or the desire for elective surgery.
When I think of myself just sitting here not looking in the mirror, I still see the 20, 30, 40 year-old me that’s youthful inside and out. I imagine that I’ll think that way until I die unless I choose to focus on what other people see.
Darris, you are now an inspiration to me in yet another way! I didn’t realize you had gone through all of that at such an early age. It’s interesting, I think I worried more about my looks at age 38 than I do today (other than the tummy issue I wrote about and that’s because of the job I want to eventually have as a trainer and be successful at it.) And I’m with you – I don’t need or want surgeries. I’ll let myself age naturally. IF all my exercise slows down the process of aging, so much the better. But going under the knife for something like a face lift, no way. I understand it’s a good thing to take care of things like hernias. So we shall find out next week what my doctor prescribes when she sees me, and also the surgeon I will see a few days later.
And you are so right about focusing on yourself being this constant journey. I think of my life over the past few years, since I really opened up to myself and started to live more the way I felt was in my heart. And while I could lament that it took me so long to get to this point, I won’t because I’m doing it NOW.
And for what it’s worth, I think the bit about women not having long hair after a certain age – says who?? Your long hair is gorgeous!!