Body Work

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This morning, I did something that I have done every Monday morning since February 11, 2013, when I decided to amp up my commitment to health, wellness, and fitness.  I gingerly stepped on my scale and weighed myself, and when I saw the number staring back at me in the darkness of the early morning hours, I felt a sense of accomplishment and triumph.  That said, shortly after I stepped off of the scale, I felt a sense of disappointment and defeat, for I had allowed a number to dictate how I thought of myself yet once again.  Even though the number on the scale was deemed “good” in my estimation, the value that I placed on said number was anything but good.

I grew up in a family that is active and athletic, and I followed suit.  I also grew up during an era that saw the Women’s Movement take flight, while the media and society in general increased their efforts through advertisements, magazine articles, celebrities and super models, and so on to create an unrealistic image for all women to attain.  I remember reading my older sisters’ copies of “Seventeen” magazine and longing to look like the images splashed across the glossy pages.  The models usually had long blonde hair, blue eyes, tanned and flawless skin, long legs, tiny waists, and big smiles, and the accompanying articles touted a variety of things girls like me could and should do to emulate these all-American girls.  Other than a big smile, I did not look anything like the models in my favorite magazines, and I still don’t.  I have short dark hair, small eyes, and a big nose, and I stand 5’5 1/2″.  At a young age, I realized that I would never be the “pretty girl”, so, I unconsciously decided to be the “funny girl” who pursued athletics and academics.  I could not readily change some of my physical attributes, so, I cultivated my inner characteristics and focused on one physical aspect I could control, my weight.  Thus, began my tumultuous relationship with the scale.

I never have struggled with my weight, but I definitely have a certain weight that I strive to maintain.  When the scale reflects a “bad” number, I instantly feel my mood darken and my insecurities about my physical appearance soar.  On a rational level, I know that the number on a scale does not define who I am, but in that moment and the days that follow, rationality gives way to self-loathing and frustration.  It is embarrassing and maddening, and this morning, I made the decision that it simply must stop.  I owe it to myself and to my daughters to realize my value and worth as a human being, not as a number on the scale.

I may not have the perfect body, according to fashion magazines and society, but my body is absolutely incredible nonetheless.  On a daily basis, my body does astounding things for me, as I can see, hear, taste, feel, smell, walk, talk, think, and a plethora of other things without giving it a second thought, and just because I take these things for granted does not make them any less extraordinary.  My body has healed from an ulcer, recovered from cervical carcinoma in situ, gotten through infertility, managed ulcerative colitis, and given birth to two premature babies, in addition to what it does for me day in and day out.  When I look at everything my body has done and continues to do for me, it takes the power away from that three digit number flashing on a scale on any given day.

As the mom of two daughters, I do my best to keep my battle with the scale to myself, as I am careful not to talk about diets, weight, and food in a negative manner.  It is said that people teach what they need to learn, and I can only say that while I am a work in progress, I must be a pretty good teacher, because my girls are happy, healthy, self-confident, and strong.  They do not have a care in the world when it comes to their physical appearance and weight.  Recently, my younger daughter rejoiced at her annual physical when the scale indicated that she had gained weight since last year, and she exclaimed, “I was born to be strong!”  Yes, she was, just as we all were, and we need to reclaim that strength and power from an electronic device that we step on, yet that we allow to walk all over our self-esteem and body image.

That’s another story . . .



Categories: That's Another Story

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