I’m REALLY putting myself out there today friends, so I hope you all are gentle with me. I don’t need any comments on what I can do to “fix” my body. I also don’t really need any “you look great” or “I wish I looked like that” comments. These are not the point of this post. The point is something much bigger than me and what my belly and face look like.
I wrote a piece a few weeks ago on “Facebook Illusions” called Things Aren’t Always As They Seem. It struck a chord with a lot of people. I got a ton of feedback , and it made me feel terrible that I too had played into the Facebook Illusion game of “showing off” my “perfect” life, as well as comparing myself to others. I had given others such a false sense of myself, and didn’t want to be responsible any longer of others comparing themselves to a standard that wasn’t even real.
A friend of mine commented on my post and said this:
I could probably take this a step further and say the same for my body…WE try and make our bodies look so perfect when in reality everything is different than before I had children. I have marks, sagging spots, etc and let’s just be real it is and was worth it and I am not ashamed of it..I am not perfect!
This really got me thinking. Maybe in all of my talk about real food and health, I have also given a false sense of what I believe healthy means. Do I think being super thin is the ultimate measure of health? Do I believe weight=health? Do I have a perfect body? Is part of my worth wrapped up in what my body looks like? Do I show a false picture of how “healthy” I am or what my body looks like?
These were just some of the questions that were swirling in my head when I read what my friend wrote.
So today I want to open up a bit, peel off the layers of make-up, fixed hair, and tailored clothing to give you a glimpse of the real phyiscal me. This is what my family sees day in and day out. This is Mama, Mommy, Tara, Honey, and Sweetheart. This is me. Using my friend’s words: “I have marks, sagging spots, etc and let’s just be real. It is and was worth it and I am not ashamed of it…I am not perfect.”
This is what I look like when I fix my hair, put make-up on, and have a really good photographer take my picture.
This is what I look like with semi-wet hair and a freshly cleaned face.
My haircut is uneven and my ends need trimming. My hair is darker than it once was and there is little luster. My eyebrows are un-manicured and my skin is uneven. A few blemishes grace my face and scars from fever blisters are constant reminders of painful memories of being teased as a child. I have freckles on my pointy nose which mirror my sharp chin. I have a big forehead and uneven eyes. This is who I am and how God designed me. I am beautiful. So are you!
This is my stomach.
I have a small frame. 5 foot nothing, if I really stretch. My weight fluctuates between 115-120 lbs. I’ve always been small, but the skin of my stomach hangs from carrying my two beautiful babies for 9 months. I have stretch marks, sagging skin, and my belly button almost disappears under my stretched out skin. My belly is like a playground for my kids. They love my squishy belly and spend an endless amount of time stretching it, poking it, folding it, and making it “talk”. Under the button on my jeans is more sagging skin which falls on top of my dual c-section scars. This is who I am and how God designed me. I am beautiful. So are you!
I would show you my thighs and backside, but I feel those are for my husband’s eyes only. I have cellulite on my buttocks and stretch marks on my thighs, which rub together when I walk. The skin tone of my legs is uneven and not as tight as it was in my teens and twenties. I find it difficult to find pants that fit my squatty legs and thick thighs. This is who I am and how God designed me. I am beautiful. So are you!
My breasts sag, wrinkles are developing on my face, my nails are uneven and broken, and my feet are often dirty with cracked heels. This is who I am.
I’m just so tired of women trying to live up to standards that aren’t real. Even models in magazines don’t actually look like what the picture portrays. They have teams of professional stylists spending hours fixing their hair and makeup, dressing them, posing them, and photographing them. As if that weren’t enough, then professional digital editors come in and air brush, edit, and digitally remove undesirable inches, wrinkles and blemishes. Real is a far cry from what hits the magazine stands.
But don’t you write about health, real food, and non-toxic living? Aren’t you being hypocritical? Shouldn’t we strive to be skinny?
I wouldn’t say I’m being hypocritical. I would say I’m being realistic. Yes, I write about these things. They are truly a passion of mine. I care about others being healthy, but health encompasses the entire body, not just our physical bodies. Healthy goes far beyond the number on a scale. A healthy person is healthy in the mind, body, and spirit. They eat well, but don’t let it control their lives. They are not afraid of food. A healthy person does not hate their body. They do not see it as the enemy. They eat well and exercise not to fit in a mold dictated by society, but to feel well. They are taking steps toward health so that are able to play with their kids again, come off of medications, and take a walk with their spouse without feeling fatigued, pain in the joints, and aches in the back. It’s absolutely not healthy to obsess over every wrinkle, blemish, fat roll, bulge, dimple, sag, or stretch mark. It’s not healthy for your kids to see you obsess over these things either, surviving on plain lettuce salads and lemon water so that you can fit into your skinny jeans. Skinny does not always equal healthy. You can be thin and have host of health problems including nutritional deficiencies, autoimmune diseases, etc. The opposite is true as well. Having thick thighs, cellulite on your buttocks, and a few extra pounds hanging around does not make you unhealthy or unlovable. You are you and you must make peace with who you are, regardless of your size and shape. I will never be 5’9″. I will never have long legs. I will never have a button nose, and I’m OK with those things.
I don’t know a single person in real life that is free of bumps, lumps, wrinkles, or sags, despite what we see on tv, movies, magazine, online, or in pictures. I do, however, know thousands of people that are uniquely designed in different shapes, sizes, and colors. They are all beautiful! Real people are full of flaws, beautiful flaws that all carry a story. My pointy nose was given to me by my mother and I wear it with pride because I love my mother and enjoy looking like her. My pink and flushed skin tone is a gift from my father, which I also wear with pride for the same reasons. My saggy belly and cesarean scars are forever reminders of my children and the gift of motherhood. They are like my own personal warrior wounds signifying the pain and sacrifice that it took to bring them into the world.
My encouragement to you is to stop obsessing over your imperfections, trying to grasp the unattainable, and start loving yourself and your body because that’s the one you were blessed with. There is more to life than the size of our thighs. Of course we want to take great care of our bodies, and not abuse them; it’s the only one we get. But along the journey, I must remember, my husband loves me for me and my Maker loves me for me. It’s time I do the same.
Be encouraged, friends.
1 Timothy 4:8: For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
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