It is impossible to ignore the media campaigns promoting a healthy body image. Every magazine with air-brushed models has at least one advertisement calling for us to ‘love ourselves’ and purchase products that will hide our flaws and highlights our strengths. With it being a new year, we’re privy to declarations of weight-loss and fitness goals and we tell ourselves that this year will be different. Like many others, I am not immune to the constant bombardment of images and text advocating the ideal woman’s body (thin but not too thin, muscular but not too muscular – we can’t let men be made to feel weaker), face (symmetrical and clear of blemishes – apparently they’re the devil’s work), and attitude (now don’t go being a bitch…). In fact, I am afraid that I am tearing myself apart with more tenacity than I ever have in the past.
Let’s get something out of the way – this post is not a compliment-fishing expedition. While I could stand to lose a few pounds, I am not overweight and I fall into the ‘healthy’ range on the Body Mass Index. To many people, I probably look average. But lately, I find myself daydreaming about a stronger version of myself. Better than average, so to speak. This version of myself is 10 pounds lighter and has more defined muscles and a body in peak performance condition – all perfectly reasonable and healthy goals. But for whatever reason, I am unable think about these goals without absolutely destroying my current state – “you’re chubby, you’re weak, you’re lazy, you’re repugnant, you’re disgusting…”
And what is ironic (and sad) is that I often hurl these insults at my body while nursing my infant daughter. I shame myself for carrying these extra 10-15 pounds and not having a ‘fitspirational’ body as I am participating in what can be considered the ultimate physical performance – feeding and sustaining a young life.
I have said on this blog that I am not nearly as confident as I pretend to be. Although I am a big proponent of the ‘fake it ’till you make it’ philosophy, I can’t seem to brush off these self-loathing thoughts about my appearance. And when I look at my daughter, it absolutely breaks my heart that she could be thinking the same way herself one day.
I know that I am not alone in having these thoughts. I am hardly unique in this aspect. And I know I need to change, which is why my motto for 2014 is Be Kind. Not only to be kind to those around me, but to also be kind to myself. This is not an excuse to not work hard or not to push myself, but rather a reminder not to insult myself as I charge toward my goals this year. I deserve better. We all deserve better.