It’s everywhere you turn. Especially in the month of January. Everywhere you look, you’re bombarded with advice for dieting, exercise, losing weight. All these lofty (and often positive goals) are most always accompanied by images of a 5’8″ 125 lb. twenty-something year old with her skin tight workout gear, flawless complexion, and flowing head of hair.
In that moment, we’re all faced with a choice. Can we sift through the information and discern propaganda from helpful advice? Can we avoid feelings of insecurity and inadequacy based on some unattainable ideal?
Can we be truly comfortable with the skin we’re in? I think we can. And I think we owe it to ourselves and our families (especially our daughters) to make it a priority.
I’ve never been a skinny girl. Even as a child. For the vast majority of my adult years, my clothing size has been firmly planted in the double digits.
I do not fit the standard mold. I’m 5’4″. I’m curvy. I’ve got wrinkles and stretch marks and a C-section scar. And you know what, I’m okay with it. Finally, after years of pining away for someone else’s body to be my own, I can truly say that none of that matters to me anymore.
And although I can’t put my finger on an exact date or event that brought about my change, I can see a few things that came together to let me accept who I am.
Accepting Who God Created You to Be
This is the most important thing, ladies. Your Creator made you, on purpose. Do any of us look like Eve? Probably not. Sin and the Fall have done plenty to take us far from ideal. But aside from any consequences caused by my own choices, I am who I am by design. I was not intended to be like anyone else. Neither were you.
I began to realize that all the time I spent wanting to look like someone else, or have someone else’s metabolism, I was feeding an ungrateful attitude toward my Maker. I was placing my worth in external things.
But here is where our worth lies. Your very Creator loves you so much that He came and gave His life for you. You have worth because you are unconditionally loved by Him.
If we can truly get our heads around that and accept it, not fight it, it frees us up to enjoy who we are.
Get Off the Comparison Train
Comparison has got to be one of the most destructive things we women do. Stop it! It’s okay if you’re waist isn’t as tiny as hers. It’s okay if your stretch marks never went away. Ask yourself, if at the end of your life, any of that will matter one bit. And consider, dear mom, all the amazing things your body has done!
My advice, if you find yourself in the habit of comparison, is to replace it with something else. Pray. Count blessings. Toss those fitness magazines with unattainable images in the trash. Find your trigger and retrain your brain.
Practically, I’ve found that there are a few things I can do to feel more positive about my body.
Taking Care of Yourself
This has to be one of the biggest differences for me. It’s just a simple cause and effect formula. When I don’t take care of myself, my general health begins to decline. I feel tired, lethargic, droopy. Frumpiness takes hold. Aches and pains move in. And no one feels good about her body when it’s plotting against her.
To feel positive about my body, I need energy, stamina for keeping up with life. These are the must haves.
Exercise so I can be strong. Have energy. Avoid aches and pains. When I consistently get moving, I feel fit. I can tell where muscles are doing their thing. I can keep my weight from creeping up out of control.
But here’s the major difference–I am not exercising so I can look like a cover model. Or anything close to it. Because if that’s your motivation, then you’re not really comfortable with yourself. You’re hoping to become someone else.
Not every eating plan fits every person. I believe it’s very important to pay attention to what you eat, how it makes you feel, and find the foods that fuel you. Eating a variety of nutrient dense foods and making good nutrition a priority for me helps with just about every area of my health. And when I’m in overall good health, I feel better about being me.
Dressing for Your Body Type
This is a really practical thing I’ve learned from a friend. Ironically, she’s the tall, skinny can-wear-just-about-anything type of girl. But she never makes me feel inferior to her. And whenever we shop together, she’s all about finding the clothes that work for my frame.
You see, most of us can’t wear whatever is in style at all times. We’re shaped differently. Find a few good pieces that are comfortable and flattering. Which leads me to my next thought…
Putting Yourself Together
Ever watch an old movie and noticed the way everyone dressed? I love it! I know it’s fiction, but I also know that 20 years ago, I never saw anyone at the grocery store in ripped up flannel pj pants, fuzzy slippers, an oversized sweatshirt with a giant messy nest on their heads (unless they were really sick and stopping in for tissues and OJ). And if you’ve sported that look in public on more than one occasion, I’m not here to judge, I have to confess my guilt as well.
But it seems all too common lately. And you can call it superficial if you want, but for me there is a connection with how I feel and whether or not I’ve taken a little time to pull myself together.
Bottom Line (no pun intended)
It IS possible for us to accept ourselves no matter how tall or short, what dress size, or how many wrinkles. We can break old habits of destructive thinking and give ourselves some grace. Start taking care of yourself. Take a little pride in putting yourself together. Enjoy being you.
And maybe, we can show the next generation the true inner beauty that comes with being comfortable with the skin they’re in.