Yesterday was International Women’s Day and it reminded me of two things: I love being a woman, and it’s hard to be a woman.
It’s hard for a lot of reasons, but it would be insincere of me to suggest that it’s as hard for me as it is other women in the world. I have an incredible life. But in my personal little sphere, I can relate to at least one challenge that many women face – loving the body we live in.
The minute my first daughter was born (and the moments my two other daughters followed) I considered my strategy for raising girls who love themselves. Like I’ve learned with so many parenting challenges, lessons are best delivered by example. For me, this meant I would learn to love myself, lumps, bumps and all.
I don’t hate my body. In fact, it’s been incredibly good to me, even when I haven’t been good to it. In the past I’ve abused it with ‘bad’ food and booze, gained and lost weight too quickly, and carried and delivered three babies in a span of just four years. I’m surprised my body even hangs out with me anymore, actually.
But I can’t even recount all of the devastating messages I’ve received about my body in my lifetime. Some of them indirect (courtesy of the ‘beauty’ industry and the rise and fall of unobtainable body trends) and some not so indirect (delivered by well-meaning or not family and friends who noticed and noted those extra pounds I gained in grad school). And I’m not alone.
Now that I’m in my thirties, I’ve lost weight (in a slow, sustainable way) and gained some clarity on a few things.
One, I wasted a lot of time in my teens and twenties admonishing my body when there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. Two, everyone struggles. Three, there’s more to life than this.
I like being strong and ‘healthy’ right now, but that’s about the extent of it. I really can’t punish myself anymore for not fitting into mould I never chose in the first place. I’m grateful for my frame, even if it is non-waif, non-pixie, non-heroin chic (HOW is that even a thing??).
I can’t protect my daughters from everything, but I can do my best to give them a good head start.
I want them to be healthy because it’s good to be healthy, not because it’s good to be thin. I want them to be active for the fun of it, not for the burden to burn calories. I want them to have food knowledge, not a fear of food.
And when my daughters playfully squish their hands in my belly and giggle when it jiggles, I want to proudly and sincerely tell them that I like that part of my body.
Because I do. I really like my body – it could even be love.