Most of you probably know that I am passionate about helping women learn how to accept and care for their bodies in nourishing, healthy ways. You may read the word 'accept' and think, "how can I accept this?" Said while picturing in your mind all the things you view as being imperfect, even ugly. Acceptance doesn't mean you don't hope for and look forward to positive changes, both in how you feel and how you look. Rather, it comes from a deeper understanding of your divine worth as a person, regardless of your body. This acceptance whispers peacefully, "who I am right now, today, is good enough and even beautiful."
This acceptance or at least moving more towards this type of acceptance brings a cleaner form of motivation. The motivation that says, "I'm going to take care of myself because I love myself." Rather than, "I'm going to punish this ugly body until it turns into something better." The latter motivation is like a dark tunnel with no light at the end.
Why do I feel so passionate about this cause? Well, I've wondered that this morning, as I woke up before sunrise to feed my infant daughter. As I nursed her in the quietness, I thought about how much I care about women. I care about women and I care about the things they struggle with. I have felt the struggle of feeling frustrated with my body and have written about it before. Two years ago, a photo shoot with a good friend brought up some of my inner insecurities. It gave me the painful opportunity to face them and try to bathe those insecurities in the light of truth, thus finding healing, which I also wrote about, through many tears.
I remember when I looked at that first photo from the shoot and saw so many flaws. Ouch! It hurt. I think it unearthed the lie that had been lying somewhat dormant, buried deep. A lie that said, "see look. You really are ugly after all." I don't know when that lie was planted. Might have been in junior high when I was teased for my height and I felt so self conscious about being tall. Might have been reinforced a bit on a shopping trip with girlfriends when I didn't fit into the trendy jeans the way they did. Might have been some other time. But what matters is that it is a lie. It's always been a lie. A painful lie. One that's painful to look at and easier to bury. The photo shoot brought it out in all it's fury. I called a friend in tears, knowing that although my husband is kind and loving, I was going to need a woman's perspective on this one.
I can't even remember what my friend said but I know it was helpful. It was a start to a process of true healing for me. As I started this process, I realized that I wanted to help other women with their healing too. That's why I started the beauty discussion on my blog. I so appreciated the stories shared by other women. As women, I believe we receive vital healing when we are honest and real and loving with each other.
At that time, I was preparing for a half ironman in Hawaii. Please take note even though I was quite fit and lean at the time, I still wasn't completely accepting of my body. Acceptance has more to do with what's going on inside, than what's going on outside. I really believe that.
At 135 lbs I was pushing the lower limits of what is a healthy weight for my body. I give you that number in hopes that it might be helpful. Some of you might be thinking, "oh, that's really light." Others of you might be thinking, "wow, that's quite heavy." Adam said at that time that I looked a little gaunt in the cheeks. I remember my father in law asking me how much I weigh, (yes, he's funny like that) and when I told him, he was so surprised. He said, "really, I thought it would be a lot less." I took it as a compliment, because he knows I'm healthy and in his mind, a healthy woman weighs about 120 lbs. We all tend to have such loaded perceptions about weight. Loaded with so much judgement, the harshest of which we put on ourselves.
And now I find myself in a different place in my life.
My body has gone through a lot of changes since then. I gained a bit of healthy weight following the intense season of racing. We were trying to get pregnant and so I chose not to sign up for any big races. I did a marathon on a treadmill just before Christmas and a couple half marathons as well (relatively speaking these weren't major races compared to the long distance triathlons.) And then the great news that I had waited for, I was pregnant.
As I experienced life growing inside me and watched my body change, I pondered on the marks of motherhood. I often struggled emotionally, looking at my varicose veins but I learned and grew a bit from that struggle. So I'm learning about beauty from a different angle and enjoying the ride. Living life inevitably means that I am going to see changes to my body, whether that be from aging, having children, or other things. These changes will challenge me in new ways, forcing me to find anew that peaceful place in my heart that says, "I am ok. I am beautiful. Even though my body is different, I am still me and that is always good enough." I hope that with each stage I am able to find that place a little quicker than the last time.
I believe we find that peaceful place, in part, by dispelling myths!!
So that's what I want to do on my blog for awhile; DISPEL MYTHS.
Women, teaching women, in honest and vulnerable ways. Being real with each other. Taking a myth and explaining from their perspective why it's just not true. Helping to bathe each of our lies in the light of truth and see things more as they really are. See the beauty in ourselves.
If you read this and think, "oh I have a beauty myth that I would love to write about", please get in touch with me. This isn't about being an expert on anything, it's just about being willing to be honest and real and share some things you've struggled with and then learned from. In hopes that it will help someone else.