Loving Yourself When You're Not A Supermodel
It's officially summer! The season is synonymous with vacations, relaxation, and visiting friends without the burden of routines, homework, and sports schedules. Unfortunately for some moms, summer brings about their worst fear. The idea of donning a swimsuit and meeting up with friends, especially if we've put on a few extra pounds, can create major anxiety. Recently a mom of a first grader shared with me that her young daughter mumbled, "I need to lose weight," as she put on her swimsuit before heading out to the pool. Her distraught mom admitted to being the one who uttered those exact words just a few weeks earlier as she was trying on swimsuits in a store's dressing room. Mom realized her mistake and felt awful about passing along her insecurities on to her daughter. I felt badly for mom because I could empathize with her plight.
It's so hard not to be critical of ourselves. Just days after giving birth, celebrity moms look exactly as they did pre-child. In the age of social media, everyone is free to airbrush away flaws and stretch out and enhance photos so that we look perfect 24/7. The reality is that celebrities have a team of people around them to orchestrate photos, handle food preparation, as well as household responsibilities. I think it was actress Julianne Moore who when asked during an interview how she stayed so thin after having children, was brave enough to say that she gets paid not to eat. Her statement was a refreshing dose of truth and a far cry from the many celebrities who claim they stay slim and toned just by "chasing after their kids all day." Let's face it, especially on social media, struggle of any kind is not sexy especially when the struggle relates to the battle of the bulge.
My truth is that my body looks nothing like it did before I gave birth. I absolutely have insecurities about my shape. I have friends who are nearly half my weight, toned, and who could go into any store and pick out any outfit and look fabulous. While I wish I could grow a few more inches so that I could have their long, leggy look, I have accepted that I am blessed with the body I have. I am thankful that although I had a very difficult pregnancy, my body allowed me to carry my son. It allows me to keep up with his many activities. Sure, I can make improvements but my body will never look like it did before I had my boy, but is that really the goal anyway? I mean, in so many ways I am definitely not the woman I was before I had a child so why should I try to erase any evidence of the miracle that took place? Whether introduced by the media, our families, or by our own inner voice, as women there is so much self loathing when it comes to our bodies. I remember even when I had a bikini body as a teen, I never wore one because I felt like I didn't measure up. Now that I've had a child and a nice c-section scar as a reminder of that special day, I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to rock that bikini. Collectively as women, we keep waiting to drop a few pounds before we take a dip in the pool, buy a new wardrobe, or see old friends. Why do we not allow ourselves opportunities to feel good about where we are in our lives right now?
I am in no way saying that we should give up on ourselves and live the life of a couch potato. We need to teach our children healthy habits of eating to fuel our bodies and getting a healthy dose of activity most days of the week. Of course there's always room for improvement but we don't need to be obsessed with a number on a scale or the size on the tags of our clothes. We will occasionally screw up and mindlessly eat a sleeve of Girl Scout cookies while watching an episode of The Bachelor but we're human and we can start again and make better choices for ourselves. We can become more active and move our bodies for health and enjoyment vs. weight loss. We can try new things and maybe gain a new hobby. If you're at the pool with friends, chances are they aren't worried about your figure. They're probably self conscious about their own bodies as well, and besides, they want to spend time with you; to share laughs and enjoy your company. If that's not the case then you may want to find some new friends.
Moms, please don't allow your insecurities about what you look like to steal your joy. We need more joy in the world. When I went on vacation with my family recently, I put on a swimsuit that I felt comfortable in and I went on every water park contraption my son wanted me to enjoy with him. I didn't worry if anyone was catching a glimpse of my cellulite or stretchmarks. We had a blast and that's what I want my son to remember. Our children see the beauty in us but it's time that we start seeing the beauty in ourselves. Life is not a spectator sport, and this summer will be over before you know it. I hope that you won't just dip your toe in the water. My wish for you this summer is that you clasp the hand of your little one and make a big splash by jumping in.
Peace, love, and lots of chocolate, ~HZM