Sunday, February 10, 2013

Body Envy

I spent most of my life in the plus size section. In my head anyone who was a smaller size was automatically more beautiful than I was. I thought if I could just be smaller I would be beautiful. Even though I could look at my fellow plus sized sisters and see their beauty, I could never see my own. I felt that there was no possible way I was attractive. It also spilled over into other areas. I didn't have the confidence to run for student council because I thought people wouldn't vote for me due to my weight. If you have a lump in your throat or a tear in your eye, you've been there too.

Then I lost weight and gained some and lost some and gained some and finally was able to get down to a healthy weight. I've been there for almost a year. And you know what, that assumption that if only I were smaller I would feel more beautiful was false. I see that even people at smaller sizes are dissatisfied with how they look or feel in their own bodies. I think most of us do. And for so many reasons.

January 1 is a prime time for us to be assaulted with images that lead to body envy. Exercise programs that promise ripped abs and a firm bottom. I started the year working out with a knockoff of the P90x system (I knew that P90x was going to be too hard on my body and wallet). While I loved the workout, I found that deep down I was disappointed that I was looking nothing like the ripped, scantily clad fitness maven. The only lines you'll see on this midsection are stretch marks from years of losing and gaining.

And it's so easy to get stuck in that icky place of body envy. We are assaulted by genetically gifted, air brushed fitness models from the magazine racks in the checkout aisles (just buying and reading the magazine won't make our bodies any me, I tried). We are promised a quick, easy routine on Pinterest that will melt away the baby fat. And while I'm a huge fan of exercise for your health and as an aid to losing weight, we have to realize that for most of us our expectations for what exercise can do in relation to our waistline is not really close to the reality. So for myself, I had to step away from some of the exercise videos and magazines and websites that were causing me huge amounts of body envy...leading to my own body hatred. I've started to embrace exercises and routines that not only give me a great workout but leave me feeling better about myself (not disappointed that I don't look like the genetically gifted, super healthy gal on the screen). I try to make myself more knowledgeable in areas of health and fitness so I can better create realistic expectations.

I'm sure I will always look in the mirror and want to change something (or lots of things, depending on the day), but I'm learning to be thankful for each and every beautiful flaw. That excess weight? It means I'm blessed enough to be living in a time and place where food is in abundance. By the grace of God I haven't known the heartache of seeing my child go hungry. Those stretch marks? Some of them are from the time I carried my two beautiful children. Those sore knees? It means I've had the ability to go out and be active for most of my life. That zit on my chin...okay, I'm still working on embracing all of my flaws.

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