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.