6:30 am and there are no less than four pairs of pants strewn on the floor. I am feeling bloated and unable to handle the responsibility of wearing form-fitting anything.
Impolite staring at problem areas.
This never-ending battle with my body has gone on for years and it’s time to be real about what kind of toll it takes on the female psyche… in this mind, anyway. ‘No secret I’ve said unkind words to my tummy, thighs…the ever changing post-forty bust line. It’s strange to hear because if you were to see my average woman frame you wouldn’t think that such an inner battle rages on within this usually rational mind. We all have our problem areas as women, yet mine seem to take up far too much thought time—brain space needed for reading, work, childrearing, schedule wrangling, etc. I’m not on the eating disorder side of things (touched a little there my sophomore year in college and happy to say that I emerged relatively unscathed), but there are definitely spells of body dissatisfaction. There are days of just raw foods…a couple days of juicing until 2:00 and then feeling like I could eat a small animal within a 30 second time-frame….or the month before a bikini yielding vacation when I realize “dieting mommy and wife” is not “fun-to-live-with mommy and wife”.
I know that many of you out there hear me loud and clear. There are those of you who’ve battled your weight since childhood. Some of you have crossed over into eating neurosis and back again. There are dear friends who beat themselves up when they bounce back from a month of holiday snacking in December. These voices come from gremlins who are happiest when standing on our shoulders in department store dressing rooms and in our own walk-in closets. They don’t really care about your efforts to exercise or that you’ve been indulging in egg white omelets for lunch for four straight months. They’re just concerned about whether you can stick an index finger in your waistband and not feel like holding your breath.
I wonder what Jesus would say if He was standing in my closet watching me examine myself from the side after putting on the favorite jeans. Oh, the usual comes to mind:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world” (Romans 12:2)
Oh, maybe if I just duct tape my mouth when I’m out with friends at my favorite Italian restaurant so I don’t overindulge in the bread basket.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Yeah..a temple filled with sodium and gas bubbles from too many chips at a friend’s fiesta BBQ.
I’m not downplaying God’s precious words here.
They are relevant.
They even live on post-its taped to my dashboard.
Yet…dear friends in this futile battle of projected images and celebrity perfection…the mind is weak. Especially the mind that is focused on how much harder it is to resist temptation under stress and deal with feelings of deprivation. Messages of body detox is around every corner it seems these days, but I feel it’s so much more about a detox of the mind to dig deep and see where the insecurities bubble up. For those who binge, it’s about recognizing the triggers that break a perfectly fabulous cycle of good, responsible eating. For women who panic about a changing mid-life body, it seems to be about being kind to ourselves in dealings with hormones and gravity, yet also investing in what we know is good for overall health, not just the conquest of an old dress size.
I fall into that last category and I am honestly trying to resist any temptation to dwell on how good I felt at twenty-five on the beach in a two piece. The truth is, I enjoy what food adds to the quality of my life, and I’m not willing to dip down into deprivation for the sake of reliving that memory. You’d think with this attitude I would be able to sideswipe the gremlins to the dressing room floor, but I fall prey like so many of us and I don’t like the potentially obsessive thought process that accompanies the ridiculous expectations. It’s a waste of time and frankly, that theft of my overall confidence and happy nature is flat-out irritating.
So what’s one to do?
Pray and rest in the fact that I, like all women, am God’s beloved.
He made this strong body for child bearing and feeding (‘always remind myself of how awesome that is when I complain about the aftermath) and curvy with a bit of softness for a reason. I’m thinking Eve didn’t have six pack abs or quad muscles that had indentations in the back. Before the fall, she was probably pretty darn jazzed about her beautiful body, no matter what it looked like by today’s standards. After the fall, I’m guessing she stood in front of her reflection in the water and had all kinds of suggestions for God in what He could have done differently, thus beginning our unrelenting journey of dissatisfaction with what we’ve been given. Of course, Eve didn’t have grocery store checkout stands with the visual assault of “top ten celebrity butts” on the cover.
Being a mom of two girls, there are a couple of pledges I’ve taken. First, I avoid said magazine fluff when I shop. I don’t even glance, however tempting, in my effort to show the girls that it really doesn’t matter what Star A and B are doing in their battle of the bulge. Our own lives are void of personal trainers, personal chefs and a movie role that requires a full backside view. Achieving an Ironman physique in 30 days is not on the docket, nor would I like it to be.
My second promise involves not talking about weight, diets, or body image when referring to my own body, or any other person’s body for that matter, when I’m with my kids. That also comes under the “judge and lest ye be judged” category, something I’m trying to do work on in all areas. Heaven knows there will be enough of this talk in the girls’ circles at school, because as females we know that it somehow easily wanders into this territory. As I’m seeing with my own pre-teen, there are issues with what a girl has been given in the way of body parts, and the mental struggle will come soon enough. This is extremely sad to me. I do remember the days around age nine or so when my mind was occupied with Barbie games, roller skating and popsicles. These things were surrounded by “happy” with the trappings of body consciousness far, far away.
Are there women who still dwell in this place? Do they live in the US? Can they teach a seminar?
For now I will continue on in my quest to counteract negative self-talk with the belief that I am God’s beloved. I think if Jesus was standing outside the dressing room door and heard my rants, I probably would change my tune from criticism to praise of what He created. I’d be more apt to compliment the good parts and marvel at what I’ve been able to accomplish with this temple throughout my life. The truth is, He is standing outside the door and wants so much for us to love ourselves the way He loves us.