Women, why are we so hard on ourselves? Why will we always look good “as soon as…?” And we all the know the joke about how men who are 30 pounds overweight look in the mirror and see a good-looking guy, while women who have 5 extra pounds see themselves as 30 pounds over! Except it’s not really a joke.
Valentine’s Day just passed, and I am glad to see it go. Not for myself, but for those who feel sad. Sometimes it’s from being single; though it can also come from being lonely in a relationship. But I think it’s most sad when it’s a case of feeling unlovable, which is totally different from unloved. In high school I thought I was ugly (I wasn’t – see that pic of me? Nothing to run from), which to me equalled unlovable. My high school experience was so unpleasant that I found a way to graduate a year early. I feel so lucky and grateful to have found confidence in my mid-20s.
Now here we are, many years past high school, and many of us are so self-denigrating about those extra pounds we’ve put on since high school that we don’t even know it. It’s habit. Automatic. “I’d be happy if I just lost 20 pounds.” “I’d love to date, but who’d want me at this weight?” I’ve been paying attention to my habitual thoughts about my weight as I lose the few pounds I gained over the holidays, and mine are definitely tied into looks and self-acceptance.
Those of us who are moms are so good about showing our kids unconditional love, yet we let them see us denigrate ourselves. Worse, they see us defining ourselves by external, non-achievable goals and measures.
Time to rethink and reframe, dear Boom-Chicka-Boomers. We need to separate health from aesthetics. I’ll use myself as an example. Do my extra 5-10 extra pounds (I picked this number, not the government charts, which means the numbers are flawed from the start) affect my health? Truly, not in the least. I have no trouble going uphill or exercising or doing anything, except for playing soccer, which is due to a reconstructed knee, not an inability to have running stamina. And all my health and medical tests say that I’m secretly in the body of a 29-year-old (insert joke here!!). Which leaves aesthetics. Beauty. Looks. Which is a slippery ideal, as the definition changes from culture to culture, and person to person.
Am I saying we should give up on looking our best? Not at all. I’m totally vain and wouldn’t dream of going in public without at least lipstick! I’m saying:
A. Health is measurable. We can know if we’ve achieved it. Beauty is not measurable. The beholder really does have all the power.
B. We need to love ourselves for the things we accomplish that matter. We need to recognize the limits we place on loving ourselves, ESPECIALLY when those limits are based on ever-shifting criteria.
Picture yourself 20 years ago. Don’t you wish you looked like that now? But back then you were too busy unloving yourself to appreciate what you had. Picture yourself now. Flaw, flaw, flaw, comparison, comparison, disapproval, disappointment. Picture yourself 20 years from now, wishing you looked like you do now. Why wait 20 years to know how great you looked in 2014?
Just so you know – when you exercise and eat well for health reasons, you gain confidence. When you gain confidence, you look happier. When you look happy, people are attracted to you. Ka-Ching. Definition of “attractive.” Along the way, the weight will fall off. But I know that when I’m 75 and still teaching group fitness, I’ll feel good about myself. And people will be attracted to me. Good health includes self-love. Health leads to Beauty. Beauty doesn’t necessarily lead to Health.
While you’re at it, view this video of four “regular” women who got the looks of their dreams. Did it make them happy?
I’ll probably never care for the artificially created Valentine’s holiday. And l’ll still lose those last few pounds. With friends to support me. I am one of those friends.
Photo credits: Woman on Scale: Chelsea3883
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