On the day I woke up counting calories, and figuring out how much I’d need to exercise in order to lose three pounds that week, I knew something was wrong. Those were the first thoughts of the day. Even before my feet hit the floor, or before I looked outside to see if the sun was shining, and before I leaned my hip on the kitchen counter while I waited for the tea to steep. Something – I said to myself – was wrong.
So, I checked in with God. I’m not even sure how I thought to do that. I often leave Him for last. But on this morning, I asked God to show me what was going on. What does He think about all of this? In my journal, I wrote these words:
“You tell me not to worry about what to eat or what to wear — that You know all about that and will take care of it all. This is what I know, so I need you to show me what comes next.”
Then, I did my usual morning thing. I tried on multiple outfits and stood in front of the mirror. I looked at myself sideways and from behind. I pulled in my stomach and pulled back my shoulders. I tried on higher heels to make my legs look longer and leaner. I changed clothes and stood in front of the mirror again. And again. And again. None of it was good enough. But I had to get to work, so off I went.
Later that day, a friend of mine asked me a simple question and I told her I have a problem with the way I see my body. I told her I am 48 but I want my body to look the way it did when I was 22, and in my head I know that’s just ridiculous, but I want it anyway. And then I told her that it makes me mad that this is what takes up so much space in my head when there are mothers who sell their bodies just to put food on the table for their children.
My friend told me she feels the same way. I was shocked. Because I look at her and think, “If I could just look like that…”
So, I started having these conversations with my friends. I’d tell them about my opinion of my 48 year old body and what God showed me is that I’m not alone. Every woman I talked to has some mixed up idea of what they look like, or what they can and cannot eat, or how much they need to exercise.
Every single one.
Wonderful women write beautiful words about how amazing these bodies are that have stretched and nursed and cuddled and loved and nurtured and hugged those we love. I nod my head at their words and in my head I know they are right. But I still stand in front of the mirror and try on multiple outfits and pull in my stomach and pull back my shoulders and none of it is good enough.
You too? Or is it just me?