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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How You Feel, Not What You See.

I'm the Brunette Sister of the Healthy Red Head, her complete opposite in most ways.  Her computer is busted so I'm filling in as a "guest".  She will back up every blog post with facts, article links and research.  I'm more like, "So I had a thought ..." and without any backup resources at all, here's my opinion, my thoughts of the day.

The Healthy Red Head and the Brunette Sister

I think I'll start with my Mom.  Well actually... I think I'll start with HER Mom.  Because in my early memories, this actually dates back to her.  To my Grandma on my Father's side also.  My early memories that were formed about what "being a woman" entailed.  As a child looking at them it was what "life was going to be like when you're older". 

I remember my Mom crying after talking to her "skinny" mother on the phone.   Her Mom had told her ("as if I don't already know" my mother's words) that she was fat, that she needed to lose weight.  The consequence of ignoring this advise would be that "she could lose her husband" if she didn't take immediate action and correct this horrible injustice.    My mother's mother wasn't cruel, I know in her mind she was trying to help, trying to spur some action.  Maybe after the tears and the hurt I would watch my Mom start another diet, exercise for a while.  Eventually fall away and then the circle would repeat.

I remember my Grandma on my father's side being on diets of several kinds over my childhood years.  Her home would be packed with candy and soda for us and she would be starving herself to try to lose pounds, inches.  Grandma would take us swimming but would never get in the water.  At first she said it was because she didn't want to get her hair wet but later she admitted.... until she lost weight and looked decent in a swim suit, she would never wear one again.  No matter how skinny she got, in her eyes, she would never look decent in a swim suit.

I remember my Mom taking us to aerobics at 5:30am.  She wanted to teach us good habits and didn't want us to "end up like her".  We switched to wheat bread instead of white, margarine instead of butter (it was the 80's), trying to eat better "low fat", "low calorie" food.   I watched the circle of her cringing as she weighed herself, and celebrate as she weighed herself, and weighed herself, and weighed herself, and weighed herself.  "Diet" became a bad word and was directly interlinked with "We all need to lose weight."

All those women before me... my mom, my grandma, my mother's mother, my friends mom's... all of these women, in all different shapes, were beautiful to me.  Gorgeous!  They were kind, fun, sweet, adventurous, brave, loving, caring and I never noticed there was anything wrong with them.  Ever.  When they would say something about themselves, about their bodies, talk about their gray hairs or wrinkles like they were the worst thing in the world...  When they would refuse to have fun with us kids in the pool or lake because of the way they "looked in a swim suit", when they would refuse to eat because they were on a diet or cry looking at the scale and say "I hope you're not like me." or "Always stay thin because it's so much harder to lose the weight once you gained it."  I would stare in awe.  They were teaching me.  I was learning.  Learning what I should and shouldn't be.  What was bad, what was good, what was acceptable, what was not.  That I was acceptable, or I was not. 

These MANY examples and lessons were passed down to me through many women.  As  a teenager in high school I was completely embarrassed to wear a leotard in dance class.  I would examine my body with binocular type eyes and see all of the flaws.  Every small "pinch an inch" layer of fat.  My little "pooch" on my lower abdomen that was always there for as long as I can remember.  I would look at the other girls and think... my stomach isn't completely flat, I can't wear this and so I stopped going.  I stopped doing something I loved because I was afraid of... me, of being myself.  Looking back... I was nowhere near being "fat", or "overweight" but because my body wasn't magazine perfect....  I was embarrassed of myself.
I totally stole this off the internet.  It's not my blog though so my sister will be the one to get in trouble.  :D Hehehe!  BUT... I think it encompasses everything we tell ourselves!

Now I'm grown, I have three daughter's of my own.  I have a son.  I'm not skinny.  It's hard to look at myself in the mirror and see the stretch marks, cellulite, scars, gray hairs, crows feet in the corner of my aging eyes, and odd shape of my body as beautiful but... here's the thing... I DON'T want my daughters, my son, to be like me.  I'm talking about the way they see themselves.   I look at them and see the most beautiful things in the world.  I look at my Mom and see the most beautiful woman I know.  How can she not see it?  How can I not see it in myself?  Why are we all so self critical? 

So... without the research or scientific articles to back me up.  Without anyone but me, standing my ground and screaming ... IT STOPS HERE!  IT STOPS NOW!  It starts with you, and you, and you, and me!  Only we can make the change, make a difference."   Stop it!  Stop it right now!  I only want to hear the words "I am beautiful!  My body is beautiful!  I love my body, I love the way I look and the way I am.  I am healthy, I am happy, I will love my body to the full extent I can and have FUN and not compare myself to anyone else because I am like no one else!  I am ME and ME is perfect, just the way I am."  

THROW AWAY YOUR SCALE!  Do it right now.  Stop stepping on it every day and letting it dictate to you how you're doing,  Those little eyes are watching you, learning from you.  Think of what you're teaching them, what you're saying even without saying it.  Tell them that you are good enough the way you are.  That you love yourself the way you are, that you love them the way they are. 

Let them know that others are beautiful too!  How many times have we heard "Whoa!  Did you see how fat that lady was?" OR... "I hope he doesn't break the chair."  OR..."She gained so much weight she couldn't fit in her wedding gown and had to have the dress altered to wear down the aisle."  OR... "Look at him, and he's eating that cheeseburger now?"   or... "If he lost weight, he wouldn't need that wheelchair to get around the store."  If we want a change then it needs to be our view on the world, on everyone.  Everyone is beautiful, everyone has their own trials and the best thing we can teach is to love and accept people the way they are, no matter what shape or size they come in.  As The Healthy Red Head has already stated in previous articles, there is stress , triggers, diseases, mental challenges, many things that alter how each individual person's body works.  It's not always a result of choices. 

My second daughter and I.

Listen to your body.  Think of how your body feels when you eat this vs that.  How you feel before during and after exercise.  Teach that we do things for good health and that this has nothing to do with image, or weight or anything... other than being able to live longer, healthier lives.  Giving our bodies the things that it needs to be strong, work and play the best it can and to grow.  You can't say one thing to your kids and do the opposite to yourself.  The strongest lessons they will learn is not from what you say, but from what they see you do. 

Years from now, when my beautiful daughters or son are looking at themselves in the mirror, I don't want them to look with critical binocular eyes.  I want them to look and love what they see no matter how they look.  Love every stretch mark, grey hair and all.  I want them to be healthy and happy.  It's up to you, it starts with you, it begins now.

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