I was watching one of the many many videos that have been made about women and body image. There are millions of them out there. Some are about accepting your “imperfections“. Others are about changing our idea of the ideal body or about what is real beauty. Many are about the medias warping of images– altering photos of already lovely women to create completely impossible to attain body shapes. And, my favourites, are the ones about women showing the truth about being a woman and human being: we all age, some of us have surgeries that save our lives and change our body, pregnancy and childbirth forever alters our appearance, and so much more occurs just by living and growing.
This issue does go beyond being a woman though, boys are just as affected by these images that are constantly being forced upon us. Both genders are being programmed by the media and toy companies with gender identities (actually, it’s virtually all companies doing this, and it isn’t just directed at children.) More importantly those identities are inaccurate in most cases. So how is this making our kids feel as they try to grow into who they inherently are… someone who is not a typical boy or girl. I was never a girl who loved dresses, or doing my hair and make-up and yet I loved fashion and making my own clothing. I was intelligent, but not just in “the arts”, I was exceptional at math also. And yet I didn’t even fit into the other category set aside for girls who are not girly, the tomboy. I was, as I see it, a normal kid who was kind of nerdy and artistic and alternative. And I found my way through childhood to being an adult surrounded by like-minded people. There were a lot of us who were just “kids” with various non-gender specific talents and interests.
Yet, I find myself as an adult becoming more of that stereotype. The woman who, post baby, isn’t comfortable in her own skin. I tend not to look at myself unless I’m fully clothed because I don’t like the folds and sags that I see. My partner commented that I don’t seem to like to take off my shirt/bra – which is saying something if even he noticed! But he’s right, my once firm breasts have been left to puddle in my brassiere due to breastfeeding and it’s a huge adjustment. I often catch myself thinking I need to lose weight and that makes me frustrated because pounds don’t matter, being healthy and fit does. I don’t like my body and yet it carried and birthed and nourished my child… it is truly amazing.
Yet, I hide this amazing body under baggy shirts and shabby clothing. I delete 80% of the pictures I’m in: I look huge, too tired, ugly, the list of reasons is seemingly endless. I’m the invisible person behind the camera as my child grows up in front of it. I often think, if I passed away tomorrow how many pictures would she have of us together? Not many, and that’s too sad to think about.
I choose to never weigh myself because it’s the one rule I do still hold true: don’t live your life based on a number. Many of these videos show how women view themselves and often ask women to describe themselves. They always focus on the negative, and I have been guilty of this also. What one word would you choose to describe your own body? Disgusting, fat, flabby… all words women often say about themselves. When I hear other women saying they feel their body is disgusting, I am appalled. That is such a horrible word to think about yourself. When I think of things I find disgusting, you know what comes to mind? Child pornography, animal cruelty, violence, rape, murder. Those are disgusting. We cannot raise a child to have a positive connection to their body and gender while thinking so basely of ourselves. And so I set myself the task of thinking of one word about my body that was positive, glorious, and a true reflection of the amazing vessel that it is.
I ended up choosing “loved“. I may still need time to adjust to my mother’s body but my partner does not. He loves it. He doesn’t think it’s better or worse or the same… he just loves it for what I am right now, and always has and will. He thinks I’m sexy and beautiful. So for now, I will see my body through his eyes, loving eyes. Like so many women, I am probably my harshest judge, so I’m just going to recuse myself from this trial until I have clearer vision.