Why are we women so obsessed with our bellies no matter what our age?
I’ve heard my 91-year old mom complain about her “stomach being too fat” yet she’s always looked like a model from the pages of Vogue magazine. I confess I inherited her critical eye. Today, in my Zumba class I stared at my reflection and my eyes went straight to my “belly pooch” in the middle of my otherwise slender frame.
It’s these unloving attitudes toward our bodies that made me empathize with a powerful post, “Trying Not to Hate Me” on Mamapedia. Mommy blogger Rachel bares her soul as she writes about trying to lose her post-pregnancy belly fat and it resonated with me. She pinches a “handful of stretch-marked, flabby skin from her mid-section and then asks her husband: ‘Why do you even like me?’ She realizes she’s adding insult to injury as she places the value of her person-hood on her perceptions of her exterior.”
Well said, Rachel. Thank you for being so honest and vulnerable. If only we could purge these self-hating behaviors from our minds. But harshly judging ourselves, particularly our appearance, is passed on from generation to generation because we hear it and see it all around us.
Rachel asks this important question:
What would it look like for me to break the cycle before it reaches the next generation – to learn to appreciate my body so that I can teach Reagan (her young daughter) to value hers? One thing I know, this change has to start now. Today. With me.
Then she makes a sacred vow:
And so today, instead of focusing on the things my body isn’t and can’t do, I’m choosing to focus on the beauty of my body, the perfect imperfections. The stretch marks that grew as my body expanded to hold and nurture my precious baby. The round arms that offer comfort and hugs to family and friends in need. The pale legs that carry me out into the sunshine to work and make a difference in the world.
And as I focus on living a healthy lifestyle, I want to teach my daughter to appreciate her own body and show her how to best take care of it.
Some days I will fail, but I pray that God will give me grace and help refocus my vision when it begins to settle on negative thoughts so that I can see myself the way he sees me.
It seems that there’s an epidemic in our culture of self-criticism that transcends generations. As I confessed in the beginning, I’m body conscious and want mine to “look good.” Most days I think it does … and way more often than when I was younger. But when I slip, I want to remember Rachel’s vow: I pray that God will give me grace and help refocus my vision so I can see myself the way s/he sees me.