Today was a beautiful day and I got exactly what I needed: a nice long walk. The temperature was around 75*F, the sun was out, but not too strong, and there was a nice breeze.
I am also starting to feel less congested, thankfully.
On my walk, I started thinking about my body image. Let me tell you, I have come a *very* long way.
I thought back to high school: the years of extra baby weight, bad posture, and general awkwardness. Mostly, I remember feeling like I was never going to stand out (as a perfectly adorable teeny bopper of course) and that thought was crushing. I was about 5 ft 9in and 165 lbs and I felt like a gawky giant. I was very quiet, so people typically remembered me as one of two girls in our school with very long hair (it was down to my waist at the time). No matter what I did or how much I worked out, I never felt thin enough, graceful enough, or cute enough. I finally came out of my shell a little senior year and then cut my hair, convinced that no one would recognize me, only to realize that people were not quite as scary or judgmental as I thought they were (thank you Glee for perpetuating that rumor, by the way).
Then I thought back to my college years, which were a slight improvement: three years of getting involved in every activity I could find to ensure I did not waste valuable time, only to burn out by my senior year. I joined Chi Omega, a social fraternity (you know, aka sorority), which was both a good and bad idea. I met some amazing women and am still close with two of my sisters. The bad part was the year I served on the executive board, where I felt like my every move was critiqued and ridiculed. You win some and lose some, right? Anyway, the critiquing had nothing to do with weight or looks but, for me (and I bet I’m not alone here), feeling like everything I planned and executed fell short in my sisters’ eyes, made me feel more self conscious in general.
So then I thought about the between years, after graduation, where I adjusted to “adulthood” and how I went a little wild and abused my body. Though I lost some weight and looked pretty good, I did not feel great about myself and I certainly was not healthy.
I am going to stop there because I could spend all night talking about my woeful past (*complete* exaggeration – I have been very blessed and I know it), but that would be a little excessive. In terms of body image though, it was not until I found yoga three years ago that I really embraced my body and found comfort in my own skin.
I would be dishonest if I said that I have gone through life with complete confidence and love for my body since then. I really struggled with my prenatal and postpartum body, which was painfully obvious in nearly all of my posts from last year. I will never understand the difficulty I had coming to terms with my changing body during or after pregnancy. Especially considering the absolute, pure, unadulterated beauty I have *always* felt pregnant women and new mothers posses.
The point is, I feel like I am in a good place right now. The time I spent reflecting over my past body image during my walk helped me realize the sharp contrast with how I currently feel about myself.
After yesterday’s post, you may be wondering what I am talking about since I requested help finding a fitness routine. The thing is, I really meant that I need exercise to clear my head. That is not to say, “I could not look any better in my cloths or ::gasp:: my bathing suit”, but I no longer feel the pressure to look perfect. I no longer feel like I am unattractive without rock solid abs. I wake up every morning and do my best to love my reflection, imperfections and all. I do my best to improve on those imperfections, but I don’t beat myself up over them any more.
As for aging, I always hear women talk about how unfair it is that men grow more “distinguished” with age, while women’s beauty fades. I think that is a *flat out* lie that society tells us. I think women become more beautiful, graceful, and feminine with every.single.year. I think my mom’s mom, who talks about how attractive she was as a teen, has never been lovelier. I think the same about my aunts (on both sides) and my mom. They have blossomed into the most beautiful women I know.
Today, I sit here and look forward to every birthday and every wrinkle in my future and I hope that never changes.