Sunday, May 26, 2013

Preliminary Results

You may have guessed, no news is not good news. Not in this case. You can be sure if my skin were shrinking by inches, I'd be telling you about it! Alas, so far, I see no difference. 

Take a look...


Not seein' anything yet, but I'm not planning to quit. If I have forty-five days with miracle cream, I'll try to put it on for at least 30 before I request my money back, thank you very much. Which gives me a few more weeks to think about what this means to me.

As a new teenager, I felt the pressure to look nice in a swim suit. I didn't care for my legs or arms and my chest was nothing to write home about. It's easy to scoff now, at what I thought were "big" upper arms. They may not have been defined, but they sure weren't as hefty as I imagined them. My legs aren't particularly shapely without high heals forcing my calves to flex and be seen. But I always had my stomach.

While it wasn't a six-pack, it did have two lines of definition (not the parentheses I have now). I'd wear a two piece any time I could. Not because I was so proud of it, but I was confident it looked good and helped average out the "flaws" I saw elsewhere. This is the kind of heartless evaluation I was talking about when I said we objectify ourselves. It's ruthless. Much like the guy in high school who said I'd be fine (as in "hot") if it weren't for my nose. Oh, the nose-hating that ensued. I've gotten used to how my nose looks and no longer believe it has the power to make me ugly, but I have to say, a bit of me quakes when I hear that the nose and ears never stop growing. Never? Ever?! How much are we talking? Millimeters? And then I try to get back to worrying about something important. 

Here's how it looked before twelve pounds of babies.



Ahh...please excuse my shallow self while I miss that stomach. 

And I must follow quickly with, I wouldn't trade the wonderful people my children are to have said stomach back. No sir. 

On the other hand, I don't believe there's any value in pretending we don't feel whatever it is we feel. Feelings are like flags that go up when there's something going on in our minds or emotions that needs addressing. So, Feelings, I hear you. What do you have to tell me?

I feel inferior to people with the ideal body type.

I loved what one of you said about people having different tastes in music and food, but we let the media convince us that everyone likes the same type of woman. I asked my husband about this once, since he's my insider on the male world. I knew he preferred women with smaller chests and brunette hair -- not the "ideal." So I asked him, "Why do guys react to women who are blonde and thin and chesty the way they do? Isn't it possible that half of them actually like a different look in a woman?" He said they might, but that image is repeatedly associated with sex, so guys respond because they like sex. 

Later, I was watching a show where real people went on blind dates. Over and over, guys would say the normal girl they met was "hot." Not cute. Hot. As in attractive and up to standard. So maybe, in real life with real people, the ways a person can be beautiful are much wider than the prescribed look. Which would mean crazy things like: being pear-shaped isn't unfortunate. 

I feel obligated to use my clothing to get my look as close to the ideal as possible. 

I stumbled across a nudist blog a while ago and spent some mesmerized minutes scrolling. Here were people who're completely honest about how their bodies look. They don't use clothing to couch or flatter or trick the eye. The thought is terrifying, but I wondered if they get more soul honest too, when they stop hiding their physical attributes. Seems like it would be a little freeing to let people see the truth about you. 

The ugly extension of the obligation to other people is: if you don't look close enough to the ideal, you shouldn't wear certain things. How many older women never wear shorts, sweltering because they won't subject people to the sight of their veins or cellulite? And that's a blurry line because they may think it's their own pride that keeps them covering up, but I don't. We've all heard judgy whisperings directed elsewhere and responded by vowing not to be in that humiliating position. I think we hide out of shame, not pride. 

I feel frustrated because I've worked so hard and no one can tell. 

I'll admit, I've listened jealously while people admire women who've worked out and had a significant change in appearance. I've felt my ire raise when I've mentioned going to the gym and they expressed surprise that I work out. Yep. It makes me grumpy sometimes. I fume, "This isn't just! This isn't fair!" and then I turn on my body. "Why can't you slim down like so-and-so? Why can't you be skinny even if I eat this or that?" It's embarrassing to say out loud, but it's true. 

And then a friend of mine talked about her metabolism slowing again now that she's in her fifties. She said, "It's okay that other people can eat it and I can't. It's my body and I want to do what's right for it because I'm the one who has to live with it." It was so refreshing to see someone who's come to terms with what her body needs. I've been so inspired, it's brought on a new level of healthy eating for me. She showed me the way out of comparison and feeling cheated. I've gone from feeling angry with my body to thinking about what it needs and trying to give it that. Which feels a lot like loving it and now, the idea of appreciating it, even the saggy parts, seems more doable. 

  

12 comments:

  1. Kendra, this is so inspiring. My belly isn't my trouble spot, but I can have a very unhealthy body image. It's something I've suffered from since I was in junior high. I hurt myself exercising sometimes with the fear of being "fat." This series of posts is really helpful. Thank you!

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    1. I'm so glad. I think I imagine that everyone's "over it" since we act so grown up. :) Glad I'm not alone and hopefully we can turn a new, positive page together!

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  2. Great post, I love how you ended it! Giving our bodies what they need, so true. That is inspiration to be healthy, more than wanting to be skinny. I think it's because we all get old and not "hot" so lets shoot for living long healthy lives!

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    1. I totally agree. For the last 2 1/2 years that I've been working out and people couldn't tell, I stayed motivated because I want a high quality of life as long as possible. I don't want to go to a nursing home just because I'm too weak to lift myself out of the bathtub!

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  3. I had to smile about the blonde "sexy" woman ... do you find all the women or men who are presented by the media as "ideal/sexy/hot/attractive" sexy/hot/attractive? I don't, there are several male movie stars which I don't find attractive/sexy/anything like that - and definitely no ideal. Besides that in real life the character would make up a lot of the "ideal", I noticed that I like faces/body with character. No sleek, boring stereotype, but people with something special. And that special may not be considered beautiful by some people, but adds depth and character and life. And that's what makes somebody attractive.

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  4. Great post! Every woman, even those with an ideal body type have insecurities. It may even be that the one with the perfect body are afraid of losing it since it has become part of their identity. Whatever the issue, we all need to take our eyes off our outward flaws and be aware of the amazing things our bodies are capable of. The strength woman have is incredible.

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  5. So true. I think very few humans understand how impacting their lives really are.

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  6. I've just started reading your blog today, after reading your post on Miss Minimalist. I've really enjoyed reading your posts here and just wanted to say hello and thank you so much for this post in particular. Honest and inspiring - just what I needed :-) Looking forward to reading more as time goes on.

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  7. Oh, I'm glad that was an okay transition! I wondered about people who are interested in minimalism coming over and being accosted by photos of my belly! :) So glad you're here!

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  8. What you're describing is true and common and part of much of our stories. Unfortunately, this is what it means, as of late, to be a woman (and I'm in the exact same boat): To doubt herself by doubting her body. We tend to transfer feelings of insecurity, shame, and guilt onto body parts that seem to belong with the feelings. A good read for me was a book called, "When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies." Good stuff.

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    1. I'd love to read that, since I've never thought of it as projecting my feelings on parts of my body. That's fascinating!

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