Thursday, February 27, 2014

Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful, a reflection on weight, women, and beauty

Lately, for a long while now actually, I've been thinking about beauty, and about all of us, and how we relate to it all.

While on a personal healing journey these last months, I ended up losing a lot of weight. But wait.  Don't praise me because of my size, there is so much more to a story than weight.   I am not happier now that I'm smaller.  I have always heard that people will be happier after they lose weight.  However,  some of the happiest years of my life were when I was at my heaviest.   I am not happier, but I do feel more accepted.  Oftentimes, the fact that I am now more accepted in the world makes me sad.  I want to whisper in a loud voice and tell the world that it's still ME.  And I want to ask,  "If you're approving of me now, why not then?  I am the same person".  People of any size can be hard-working, disciplined, and possess willpower.  Those qualities don't exclusively manifest themselves in body size.  We have been molded and trained to approve and disapprove of humans, based on our society's beauty criteria.  When my physical self expands into the earth, occupying more mass, I am pitied with distain.  When my physical mass shrinks, I am given a lot of back pats.  And please don't tell me all of this prejudice is in the name of "health".  Clearly it is more than that.  Size isn't always indicative of health or athletic ability.  This judgement happens because we have built an extremely limited box around what type of physical appearance is acceptable and praise-worthy.  In spite of being the generation that prides ourselves on tolerance, we have somehow absolutely avoided tolerating any womanly look that isn't thin.  If we stop and question these standards, instead of just blindly swallowing them, none of it will make sense.  Why ohhh why would we want to all look the same, as if we were all printed from a factory?  Should this world be filled with women whose bodies all mirror each others, with breasts heaving forward and waists cinched in?  If we were all the same, I believe the beauty would be lost in the monotony.

Our bodies each hold a unique story.  The individual features we each have could be sexy if we own them.  I believe we should dim the noisy clammer that tells us how we need to look, what we need to pay to achieve it, and how much work will make it worth it.  It's a lie anyways.  We all know that true beauty is confidence and confidence happens when we embrace and accept our bodies instead of breathlessly working to always change our bodies.  Of course I believe in always reaching higher, setting goals, and becoming better.  But that's a completely different issue.  Before we ambitiously aim for goals, we need to reconcile with who we are on the outside by reflecting on the inside.

So, I have been on a journey to be my own kind of beautiful.  It's not easy.  The world talks to me every single day.  I start to wishfully dream that parts of me looked different.  But my deepest, heartfelt desire is to accept my own body.  I have gnarly, big veins on my legs.  Why are veins cool on a man but gross on a girl?  I don't like them.  At all.  But I am learning to accept them.  I have stretch marks going in several directions on my skin.  They don't tell the story you would assume.  Sure, a handful of my stretch marks are from carrying my amazing boys, but the others are there simply because I grew, I expanded.  I don't have some valiant story to justify them, but my story is simply that I lived and am still living.   And that is OK.

My body shows proof of some foolish choices made in days past but it also shows my victories.  It shows that I've created life, that I've grown up,  that I've fought battles, and it also shows my strength and my weakness.

My skin shows that I've spent a childhood under the sun, a beautiful childhood, raised on an incredible majestic lake, making memories on the water.  And I wouldn't change a thing about that.

My shape shows that I'm on a journey and sometimes my physical mass expands and sometimes it shrinks and it will probably continue to do so throughout life.  My weight will likely vacillate throughout seasons and days.

My blemishes and imperfections show that I'm a human, a woman.  Women weren't designed to look perfect, they were designed to be beautiful and beautiful isn't perfect.

After sharing some of my insecurities with Chris, he texted me this: 
"Your value is never based on how you look.  
Women are beautiful because they are women,
 not because of their shape and size." 

He also wrote me this a different time,
"You are already hot and don't let paid photoshop editors,
 catty women, creepy men, or anyone else tell you otherwise. And because you are already beautiful, 
I encourage you to use your body in ways 
that celebrate being beautifully made."

This guy has helped me tremendously on my journey.  He has taught me so much. 
 These words he wrote me blessed my spirit and I hope they bless yours too!

He is a keeper so now I need to fix this ring!  
 These days my taken ring doesn't fit on my married finger ;) 


Your own

kind of beautiful.

The loud voices of the world tell us all the time that we are lacking in beauty.  They convince us to buy beauty and to work harder to reach beauty, but that isn't necessary.  We don't need to buy what we already have.  We already have natural beauty in us.  Embrace the unique YOU that you are and discover your own kind of beautiful.

I am not in love with my flaws.   It's hard for us to be excited about something on ourselves that isn't pretty.  But I am learning and trying and growing.  Though I don't love my flaws, I accept them.  I own them as part of me.  And I won't apologize for how I look or what size I am.  There is no shame in our own unique beauty.  I am becoming my own kind of beautiful.  It makes me feel free.  I can breathe.  I inhale and exhale, knowing that it is all going to be okay.  I don't need to be gorgeous, I can just be a woman, and "just" being a woman is pretty damn beautiful.

This story started here: Learning about perfectionism, beauty, and being set free

I have a heart overfull with thoughts to share on this topic. My weight loss story is unlike most others.  I am hoping to slowly share more and moore! 

I will also be sharing more about my shirt from Nutrition Snob in an upcoming post so check back!

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Blondie's Journal said...

I love this! Having struggled with weight for the past 20 years, I truly feel that I am the same person, large or small in size. A few years ago I lost a lot of weight. People started coming up to me during the process and they would say, "You look so different, you look really great." And I thought, they didn't think that when I was overweight? My beauty was definitely associated with my smaller size.

I read an article recently that overweight women have a lesser chance of being hired for a job than a slimmer applicant. The larger woman is perceived as being unmotivated, undisciplined and not focused. I thought that might be a valid claim until I thought, well, have a look at her resume! Duh! Looks are deceiving.


creative chaos said...

So very true. I have thyroid issues and while sometimes it is a struggle just to get out of bed, I still manage to keep three children and a husband in clean clothes and fed as well as run a business. It is usually even healthy food. However I have struggled with my weight since I had my second child almost nine years ago. I would love to loose a good many pounds, but at this point it is for health reasons. I have learned that you can be happy even when the medical community considers me obese. I hate labels.

I am tired of being told by doctors that my weight is caused by eating too much (I don't). Or that if I would just eat the right kinds of food the weight would come right off. I am not in a textbook and trust me when I tell you, my body does not recognize your textbook as an authority on how it should work.

Enough ranting, thank you for the encouraging words. After gaining 4 pounds this week I needed to hear them.

Rebecca said...

What a beautiful post!! Loved everything about it. (oh and fyi i have yucky stretch marks down all the inside of my legs, from being on a steroid as a teenager. One of my biggest struggles is dealing with the insecurity it brings).