How many times have I looked in the mirror with disgust?
How many times I have I counted the stretch marks, ran my hands over lumps and bumps that surely shouldn't be there, or felt the hot tears pour down my cheeks for feeling so very "less than"...
I remember standing infront of the mirror with my cell phone in my early twenties. Click, click, click. No, no, no. These are ALL WRONG. I can't look like this. I need to be just a little bit thinner. My shoulders need to be smaller. My face is too moon shaped. Where is the perfect angle? How high can I hold this to get an angle that's actully flattering? Do I REALLY look like this? Why do I have to look like this...
My weight has bounced around. The numbers on the scale have seen all sorts of ranges. At my heaviest in my teens I cut off all of my hair in disgust at what I saw. I avoided mirrors and reflective surfaces in general as much as I could. Who was this overweight girl looking back at me? Not the girl I need to be.
I struggled with an eating disorder. Carefully measuring out anywhere from 500-700 calories per day. If I made it under 500 I felt so proud. I congratulated myself. I took more photos. This angle, this angle, this angle...? No. Still not good enough.
I went to the gym every morning for two hours before work. Swim, cardio, weights. I dropped from a 14 to a 4. But I still wasn't good enough.
I had two beautiful babies, seven years apart. My sweet, precious girls. My Madeline is 10 now, and my Elowen is 3. The first time I ever heard Madeline call herself fat was at the age of 8. What was I doing to my children? I always praised them! Not only for their looks, but for their minds! For their capabilities! For their efforts. For their kindness. Be careful little eyes what you see. I still stood infront of mirrors. I still openly grimaced. I still stood on the scale too many times in a row. Be careful little ears what you hear. I still complained to my husband. I still mourned who I "used to be"...despite never having been happy with my physical appearance at any point in time. Rose colored glasses type of view..."gosh what I would give to be as flawed as I thought I was back then!" Back then. Back then wasn't I thin? Back then wasn't I beautiful? What about now??
What will my girls ever think of themselves with a mother who can't love herself in the here and now?
I pick myself apart. And because I used to be thinner, I used to be stronger, I used to be "better", I destroy myself for where I am now.
But do you know what "now" is? Now is a WARRIOR who created and birthed life. Now is a woman who has hips because she's a woman and not a little girl. Now is a woman who is soft to touch. Now is a woman who is smarter and wiser and better. We may have had a "look" back then, but we have IT ALL now. We have beautiful babies. We have husbands who get to love us AND these little tiny pieces of what that love created in living form with their own unique and special personalities.
We may be different than we used to be. But we are BEAUTIFUL. Our beauty has multiplied in many forms and it's a wonderful, miraculous thing.
I struggle, and I know hearing "but you're beautiful" doesn't smooth away that sharp pain you may also feel when you think about what used to be. But friends...we all get older. And all of us change after babies. All of us have "flaws" we pick apart and destroy ourselves over that NO ONE ELSE EVER NOTICES.
Hold your head high and embrace the fact that confidence makes you beautiful too.