Many of you who follow me regularly know I write on a variety of subjects, whatever happens to cross my mind. Mostly I journal my family's lives for my girls and future generations. But there is this particular post that has been on my mind and recently this hit close to home as a member of my family is currently admitted in a hospital facility and battling for her life against anorexia, she is only a teen.
When discussing fitness goals the other day with a friend of mine, I mentioned my goal of weighing what I did when I was a teen. She lovingly gave me heck about how unrealistic that goal was, and that my "daughters needed some curves to hold on too and that I now have the body of a woman and a mother and that what my healthy size perception should be, should be reevaluated" I thank her for this as it has made me think a lot in the past few days about my fitness goals. About the stresses society puts on all of us to look a certain way.
In my teens I modeled a lot and I think that warped perception of what an ideal body type should be began.
Please take a moment and watch this Video
I work so hard to encourage my girls and raise them the right way in this world. I am careful not to mention my perceptions of body image to them because I want them to know how beautiful they are. Every single thing about them is amazing and they make me so proud every day. But as a mom I am also realistic about the influences of the media and other kids. What I see sometimes is quite shocking. We limit a lot of things for the girl's at their ages.I don't want them to grow up before their time just because everyone else thinks they are in a losing battle with the media pressures so they give up. What happened to good parenting? What happened to knowing who your children's friends are and what influences they are under?
Is life so busy that we are letting our young daughters and sons be raised by society?
Can I shelter my girls from all that is bad in the world? Certainly not, but I can give them a strong faith and teach them about these issues before they hear it from somewhere else. I play a huge and important part in building their self esteem. With over 20 years in the education field I have seen and learned so many things. Not all parents have this experience, they learn as they go and some seek advice and others just don't care enough. Learning about ages and stages in a child's development is something every parent should be aware of. It's part of the journey. I know that I do my best each and every day to set them out on the right path and as a parent that is all any of us can do, prepare them for the trials, tribulations and the joys of life. We set their foundations in which to grow into their own people and their own choices in life. At times all we can do is pray they stay headed in the right direction and if they stray we catch them when then fall and love them despite it all. Everyone makes mistakes, but having a loving, supportive network of family and friends can make a big difference in how they heal.
Unless we as parents, educators and the community work together to create positive changes, many of these girls will fall to the pressures of society and they will never feel "good" enough. There are young boys who also struggle with negative body images and we have to be aware of this and reach out to help. It's not just one family's problem, it's society's problem.
The goal should be to maintain a healthy weight to live a long life, but healthy doesn't mean you have to be a size 0 or 2 or 4. ( Again thank you Charity for our conversation and your insight) There is such a thing as being "skinny/fat"; a person may be thin but what they are fueling their body with is not healthy. So many things affect a person's size, genetics, build, hormones, diseases, self-esteem and more. We can not say that healthy is defined by a number on the scale or a dress size. For instance when I was skinny I certainly wasn't making all the healthiest choices and I was sick a lot. The amount of a person's muscle mass also will make a difference in weight and size. So how can the media throw these unrealistic pressures out there?
It is unrealistic, it is not real life and it is killing so many right now through starvation, suicide, disease and more.
We have to show our children how incredible they are, how beautiful, handsome and amazingly talented they are. That self worth is not measured by a number on the scale, the latest beauty fashion or makeup, etc. That sometimes it is best to focus on helping others and being involved in charities and life events than turning all things on one's self. There is so much more to them then their outside appearance, that the body is a wonderful and miraculous thing not to be taken for granted. Give them a good foundation and build their self-esteem early.
We need to tell our friends and family that they are beautiful, talented and worthy of so much. That a bad hair day or the wrong outfit is not the end of the world.
To the women and men who have lost boyfriends/ girlfriends or spouses and blamed their own selves for what went wrong.....new love will come, real love is worth waiting for. The kind of love that does not have conditions.
We can not base our happiness and self worth on another person's standards. We must believe in ourselves and our abilities and be a role model to others.
When guiding our children in the journey to health we must be conscious in how we word the journey. That exercise and good foods are what keeps our bodies strong and healthy to fight cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Not to strive to look "perfect" or super skinny. To nourish and strengthen our minds and be kind and generous to others, for those who may look "perfect" on the outside are many times crumbling on the inside.
I am blessed to have a man who loves me regardless of my bad hair days, sick days, stressed out days, wrong outfit days, feeling fat days, etc. It is the substance of a person that matters and the comfort of a strong love. He encourages my goals, but does not define them. He treasures our girls the same way and makes them feel on top of the world and important because he is there for them when they need him and even when they don't. I hope they see that this is the kind of man they deserve to have in life, one that treasures them for all that they are and to not settle for anything less than that.
Sometimes it seems we are our own worst critics. Sometimes we can get past those feelings and sometimes for some people it does take counseling and therapy. Like for my family member for whom I have been praying for because I know her journey is long and certainly won't be easy. Eating disorders like anorexia never really go away....they just get "managed" to bring people back from the brink. They need some extra love and support through their lives to know how important and valued they are by loved ones and friends and then we hope and we pray they realize it too and make a full recovery.
"Lack of trust in yourself, in your healing ability, can be eliminated when you learn to tune into your body and to tell the truth about your thoughts that are either supporting your health or denying it" --Asara Lovejoy
To all of you that may be struggling with body image, know that you are so much more than even you may realize. That your potential is within you and you can achieve amazing things by setting goals and living your life for each day. Find happiness within yourself and not look to others to make you happy, you will be doing yourself a huge injustice to live for other people. Create a daily journal of dreams and all you are capable of doing then develop your plan for change. So you may not be rail thin or blonde or brunette or have blue eyes or green eyes or the latest clothes, or the latest haircut or money etc. etc...... but you are unique and you are valuable to this world and can give so much back by just being you. Be the person you want to look up to. Lead by example and teach those willing to learn. This world can be harsh, unfair, unjust and downright crazy, but you can rise above that because your stronger than that, smarter than that, better than that. So who cares what so and so think? There are millions of people, thoughts, opinions in this world....are you going to let the thoughts of one or a couple steer you wrong? I think not! Are you going to fall victim to unrealistic, airbrushed images in the media? I think not! Are you going to embrace your beauty, light and confidence within yourself? I think YES! For you and only you have the power to change your thoughts. Changing your thoughts and actions will change your life.
"Don't let yourself be trapped by dogma-which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your inner voice. And most importantly have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary" ---Steve Jobs
This is just the tip of the iceberg of all the thoughts I have in my head today and over this past week of reflecting, but it is in a nutshell what I wanted to try to convey. So take some time today to look in the mirror and say "I am worth it, I am beautiful, I am handsome, I am going to be the change I want to see in the world" Then go and teach it to others and believe that together we can all make a difference.