This is a post that has been rattling around in my head for a while now – body image, shame, disgust, hate, self-esteem, fatigue, guilt – all such strong topics and emotions never far from many women’s minds I feel… We are bombarded with images of so called “body perfection” from so many angles these days that it is often difficult to take a step back and evaluate how we really want to feel about our OWN bodies.
Like a lot of women I have often had a tumultuous and changing relationship with my body – thankful for and appreciative of it at times but often reviewing it with loathing and regret.
I have jumped through different weights and sizes – a roller coaster of ups and downs, fluctuations I have sometimes had some control over and at other times my body has taken me on the ride all by itself. Stress, grief, workloads, partying, studying, pregnancy, breastfeeding, exercising, not exercising, unhappiness, joy and fear all playing a part in my body’s ever changing look and feel.
I am now approaching the age of 42 – an age where I feel it is finally time to put up my hand and say I’m over this particular roller coaster. I’m over looking down at and across my body and feeling discontentment. I’m over feeling guilty for not exercising – again! I’m over thinking I “should” take some particular action to make my body “better”. I’m over trying to choose clothes that hide and protect rather than embracing what I already have in abundance. I’m over defending a body that has taken me through puberty, adulthood, pregnancy and birth. I’m over trying to prove something.
I hate exercising – there, I’ve said it! I hate going to gyms and joining in classes where I feel inadequate and uncoordinated. I hate weighing and measuring myself in a never ending quest to reach some perfect number combination. I hate spending time on activities that bore and drain me when I could be reading a book or writing a story.
I don’t mind going for the odd walk – it’s when I do some of my best thinking and pondering and pilates makes me feel strong and stops my back from hurting so I will keep adding these to my “to do” list – they are things I enjoy and not things I think I “should” do. I’m almost 42 – it’s time for the body “shoulds” to well and truly stop!
I love chocolate – I will never stop eating it – for better or worse it brings joy to my life! I know what my body doesn’t love – dairy (apart from chocolate of course!), wheat and unfortunately, alcohol – so I will limit these things that slow me down and cloud my mind. I will listen to my body instead of the internet, glossy magazines and wellbeing “experts”.
I’ve questioned myself over all these thoughts – am I simply putting my hand up and saying “I’m too lazy” to care for my body the way I should?? Possibly. But if my way leads to body appreciation and contentment as opposed to constant querying and guilt then I’m ok with that.
I’m almost 42 years old, I have rolls and curves, grey hairs emerging, tuck shop lady arms, ankles that aren’t getting any smaller and boobs that no longer stay up high! I’m tired of looking at these as imperfections rather than seeing a strong, fairly healthy, working body. I’m going to start working with what I’ve got as opposed for wishing for something I don’t want to work for.
My 4 year old little girl got herself dressed yesterday and asked to look at herself in the mirror. She stood up tall, shoulders back, flicked her hair behind her neck and declared, “I look awesome mummy”. Yes you do my darling. And so does mummy.