Sometimes the mirror lies

Phenomenal. That’s what my body is. It walks, it runs, it dances like there’s no tomorrow. It has lifted heavy weights. It has traveled 26.2 miles in honor of blood cancers. It nourished and carried two amazing children within itself and then allowed me to heal from two cesareans.

But my mind forgets these things. It fails me and the voices in my head take over. I have to yell SHUT THE HELL UP at the top of my lungs to drown out the destructive sentiments that are echoed over and over again.

Every time I look in the mirror, I get distracted by the lump of fat that is under my belly button. It’s always been there in some form, since I was fifteen years old. It taunts me, sticks out its tongue and bullies me on a regular basis.

I get distracted by it during Zumba, when I’m trying on clothes in a dressing room, when I’m crouched down by the tub bathing my children, and yes, during sex.

“SEE ME, SEE ME,” it dares to scream. “Don’t even think about feeling good about yourself. This is ugly. YOU are ugly.”

I am overwhelmed by the urge to punch it in the face and stuff it in a plastic bag, suffocating it into silence. I just want it to go away. Occasionally my mind forgets and I look in the mirror and smile…and my reflection smiles back.

But more often than not, the voices linger, popping up in the shadows of my happy moments, bursting the bubble of some of the bright spots in my life. It’s not right. I want my body to be reminded of all the wonderful things it has done and will continue to do in my lifetime.

But it’s hard. It’s so. damn. hard.

Some of this is within my control. I could exercise more. I could pass on the ice cream. But it’s so much more than that. These voices live and breathe in my mind. I feel they would be there no matter what the scale says, how my clothes fit or how much fat I could pinch with my fingers.

I’m not alone. I know this because several times a year I read an article or a blog post that tells me so. The voices plague the skinniest of people and those that may be considered obese. Self-doubt, body image issues and self-deprecation knows no boundaries; it happens to all of us regardless of age, color of skin or body size.

It’s a wicked side effect of being human.

And it scares me to death for my daughter.

This beautiful thing that my body GREW toddles around my house and I watch her, worried about the future. I want her to know a life of self-acceptance and self-love. I want her to always feel beautiful.

I’m being unrealistic.

She will inevitably doubt herself. I know that day will come. I hold my breath in dread and anticipation. And on that day, I want the strength to push my demons out of my head and tell her the truth. Mirrors lies. Your mind lies. You are beautiful.

No one is perfect. Even those we perceive as perfect want something different – a smaller nose, thinner arms, blue/green/brown eyes, curly hair, straight hair, longer legs, the ability to tan. The list goes on and on.

I will continue to fight these voices. It will likely always be a battle for me. Some days I will win; some days I will lose. But if I can look in the mirror in the morning and smile, a true genuine smile for all that I have done in my life, the voices will be quieted…just a little. And on those days, I win.

Today, I smile. Today, I win.

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    • Delaine says

      My message is to you and to all with self doubt, like myself. We are all Beautiful!!! And Embracing the Imprefections STARTS TODAY!! It starts Right NOW.
      GET up and go look in that lieing mirrior. and tell yourself that YOU LOVE yourself and that the punishment ENDS Right the ‘Bleep’ Now!!! Because you are worth ALL the stars and the Moon TOO!!
      May the Goddess Bless every one that reads this. I will add you all to my prayers & light a candle for you.
      The journey of a thousand steps begins with a step. All you have to do is decide to begin & you are off. lol

  1. says

    The mirror, the cameras, they all lie. But what isn’t a lie? Is how good you feel. How good your children feel against your skin. How wonderful it feels when you finish a race, that rush of endorphins that crashes over you like a tidal wave. The redness of your cheeks and the feeling of sweat dripping from you as you push the hardest you’ve pushed during a workout. Screw the scale, screw the mirrors and the cameras, because they can only attempt to encapsulate you with an imperfect eye and a skewed lens. It’s how you feel YOU look on the inside. THAT is what I am going to convey to my kids.

  2. says

    Oh this is such a raw and meaningful post. I think you are beautiful, my friend, both inside and out and yet I so understand these feelings. Yesterday, I heard Arianna Huffington refer to that voice as your obnoxious roommate, so I say to continue not letting her get the better of you.

    • Erin L. says

      Obnoxious roommate? I like that. I consider it a squatter. It’s taking up room in my head where it’s not welcome. I mean, it’s not paying rent, ya know?

  3. says

    I feel this EVERY DAY. I hate my stomach. Detest. It is my arch nemesis. Only if I eat next to nothing for 2 days does it appear flat. But that bulge – it always comes back. And my daughter? My beautiful, strong, athletic, 9-year-old daughter without an ounce of body fat on her, looks at her protruding belly and tells me she looks fat. Put a knife in my heart. WHY do we do this to ourselves? Where do we learn it? Thanks for sharing and being real.

    • Erin L. says

      Oh Jo-Lynne, that is what I dread. I know I first felt it in middle school and I don’t even know how it got there. I hope that I can remember to talk positively about my body so my daughter will hear it from me and learn it from me, instead of only seeing me be negative. The mind can be a terrible thing sometimes.

  4. says

    Oh, Erin, this is beautifully written.

    I am amazed, because I think you’re so beautiful, and so fit, and someone I aspire to be like. And yet, here you are, saying the things my mind says to me so many times a week – hell – a day, even. Damn. I’m seriously sitting here crying. Thank you for sharing. I won’t say it makes you more real, because to me you are amazingly incredibly real and raw and all those fantastic things that make you you – but thank you for sharing for all of us who feel this way. I send you love. And I hope we can protect our children, our daughters especially, from this feeling forever.

    • Erin L. says

      Thank you so much lady! It was pretty therapeutic to write this and I’ve had several people comment to me personally. I think we all feel this way at some point and I hope we can help our daughters through it. I want all girls to feel beautiful.

  5. Ilinap says

    Being in my 40s is great. I finally stopped paying attention to the mirror. It still sneaks in, but I can tell those thoughts to F off now.

  6. says

    This is what terrifies me about having girls. I know they’ll grow up to doubt themselves, pick apart their bodies and feel down on themselves. How do we stop it from happening? I think the best way to to lead by example. It’s not easy but our girls deserve to KNOW they are strong and beautiful. Thank you for sharing this Erin, it’s something that is on my mind often.

  7. says

    What a brave, beautiful, honest post. I know those voices all too well. I am heavier than I should be now and they scream at me. They make me want to run when I see people who knew the thin me. They make me ashamed and whisper-people used to think you were beautiful. Want to know what’s funny about that? When I was thin, before and after my eating disorder, I hated myself and my looks more than I do now. I am working on it. I am trying to be healthy in healthy’s shape and form (not skinny’s) I am making myself affirm that I am okay. I am trying to silence the voices, I cannot claim that I’ve done it yet. However, to this one thing I am committed, I do not degrade or insult myself or my body in front of my children. I will not pass down these voices. I talk to them about their worth, their beauty from the inside out. I talk about true inner beauty in people of all shapes and sizes to them. I cannot say I’ve defeated my voices, I cannot promise that they won’t have their own, but I swear with all that is in me, none of their voices will sound like their mom.

  8. says

    E- you are SO SO pretty, and have one hot bod for a Momma, if I do say so myself. I would DIE for yours! But I can relate on so many levels..but every once in awhile its nice to hear from other people, and hopefully reassuring you–that you are beautiful!


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