living out loud

1- I am home sick today. Not me, Miss M. She’s got strep. After a night of being up with a crying girl who refused to swallow (we have fashioned her the 21st century’s version of a spittoon: the Red Solo ™ cup), C kept her home and then broke down and took her to an emergency care clinic yesterday afternoon because the doctor’s office didn’t have sick appointments left. Which I find odd, given our nation’s current health care crisis.

2- So I’m going to do some cleaning today while injecting her with antibiotics (strep…it was strep; please cross your fingers I don’t get it). And I’m going to write this:

Body image. Can we talk about this? Because I saw this article and image on my Facebook feed this morning–

This was my thought when I saw the picture: Both of these women are beautiful as is. I’d be happy with either of their bodies. Mine sucks. Which is the woman’s point. And Chris Crocker’s as well (do you know of him? I accidentally discovered him weeks ago when a friend shared a video of him being silly while eating, and then I saw him take Donald Trump down on Twitter, and just completely fell in love with him after watching the rest of what he has to say about loving yourself…I highly recommend you find and fall in love with Chris Crocker, too).

But loving yourself is very very hard. For me it is. Like, intellectually I know the following: I am pretty, I am smart, I am sweet, I have two college degrees, I care about those less fortunate than me, my love languages are quality time and physical affection so I will watch lots and lots of Netflix with you AND make you feel like a man, I  am a goddamned CATCH, goddammit. But emotionally, I crumble inside every time I stand naked in front of my mirror. My stomach area is a freaking wreck (thanks, Miss M), I do not like my upper arms, especially when I lift them above my head. My calves are HUGE. I think my voice sounds like a man’s. I have no rhythm and can’t dance. I could go on. But mostly I am just generally unhappy with how I look. I never ever allow full body shots of myself. When they happen, I comb over them with a fine tooth instrument of hyper self-criticism. The only reason I don’t let people tag me in photos on Facebook without my permission is because I hate my body and want control over what shows up on my timeline. I’m actually not kidding when I tell people that all the good pictures of me I put on social media are (a) carefully chosen from numerous shots, (b) created from careful angling, and (c) involve a certain amount of filtering and a lot of duct tape. I’m good with the crow’s feet I see developing near my eyes, because these are evidence of years of happy…but if I could afford Botox for my frown lines, liposuction, breast lift surgery, and a tummy tuck, I would do it and I wouldn’t care what a single person thought, not a single one. This is a pretty good summary of how I approach most everything–I don’t want any plastic in me…but thumbs up on botulism bacteria that blocks my nerves and could kill me.

Me, in 2007, when I was at my finest…my FINEST. I couldn’t find the full body bikini shots from 2007, because they’re on my myspace account…

There was a time period when I was okay with being photographed full length and unaware, and that time period was 2005-2007 when I was running on a treadmill or at a park every single day and I was at my best–physically. I can’t remember when I was at my best mentally, quite frankly. I was also in my 30s and my body hadn’t been wrecked from being a human host for an alien fetus. And I do bring this up to Miss M occasionally, because I think she ought to know about parental sacrifices. She can work out the guilt complex with a therapist later in life.

But I’m lazy, Internet. I just would rather sit on social media and judge Donald Trump and his fans than take a walk. Or watch Netflix than clean my kitchen and make a kale smoothie. Or write inane blog entries than lift weights and build up my running stamina. Motivation. I can sometimes find it, but only the weekends and if it’s warm and sunny. As soon as it gets gloomy or I have to go to work, I’m pulling through a McD’s drive thru for a sausage biscuit and hash browns.

…i can’t even remember the email address i used when i was on myspace. …or believe myspace is still a thing that exists on the internet. THAT’S how long it’s been since i was okay with my body…the last time i was okay with my body, myspace was a thing on the Internet.

And while I love Chris Crocker’s attitude about diets and body image and enjoying food without guilt, I think I’d have more confidence if I could figure out how to work out and eat better. Or even just work out. It seems like that would be a mental health thing I’d have latched onto by now but I’ll be honest: I don’t enjoy working out with Miss M around. I take her on hikes to nature trails near us and she’s done after about 5 minutes. I take her to the apartment complex’s gym, but she’s inappropriate with the equipment and I’m worried she’ll break it or get hurt. Kids are a hassle when it comes to health. Is what I’m saying.

I get really infuriated when I think about that fitness mom posing with all her kids around her and her six pack abs going, “What’s your excuse?” I want to punch her in the coochie. I bet she doesn’t have a full-time job. I bet she lives in a big house with granite countertops. I bet she has a fancy schmancy gym membership. I bet she can afford organic at the grocery store. I bet her husband works and brings home 6 figures while she gets 9 hours of sleep per night and stays home and works out 4 hours a day. I bet they pay house cleaners to come in once a week. I bet they have a nanny. And even if she doesn’t have all of those things, screw her for making women who are stressed out and tired feel bad.

eye rolling all the way back to my brain so hard my eyes may get stuck there

One day recently, Melissa and I were driving somewhere (probably to Dairy Queen), and she asked me about her little friend Belle (not her real name). She wanted to know why she couldn’t be skinny like Belle (Belle has, like zero body fat). And so I said, well that’s not how your body was made, baby. And we talked about how, even at my thinnest, I couldn’t look like Belle. Then Melissa asked about why do all the models look like Belle, then? And I said because fashion designers are basically artists and want their clothes to look like they do when they’re hanging on hangers. But those models aren’t happy, and a lot of them have to starve themselves to look like that or they take drugs or have all kinds of problems. And that there are models of all shapes and sizes who are beautiful. And that we should love ourselves as is. Belle was just made like that, and there are some people in the world who will try to make her feel bad for not having more body fat. Melissa and I talked about how people just loooooove to judge and criticize other people, so we need to just find a way to accept ourselves as is.

But the whole time I was having that conversation with my daughter, I felt like a fake. Because, while I don’t want to look like anorexic models and I do like milkshakes, I also don’t like how I look on camera unless I can control it. I have parts of me I’d absolutely address with surgery if I had the money. I miss working out and how it feels (not during – I hate every minute of running and weight lifting – but I like how I feel after). Part of why I think I take a lot of selfies is I’m just trying to convince myself I’m attractive, and filters are so good for that, from the neck up or from a well angled bird’s eye viewpoint. But they lie. It’s a real yin yang thing with me.

Partly this is self-inflicted, and partly it’s C-inflicted. I spent a lot of time in a relationship with a man who spent a lot of time worried about his own body image. In fairness, C struggles with health issues that are weight- and healthy-eating related and so I always understood and wanted to support him. Yet remain resentful about the one time he made me do the South Beach Diet with him and we were still in Phase 1 (NO carbs, NO alcohol, NO anything) during Halloween and Thanksgiving. Internet, do you have any IDEA how hard it is to go to a Halloween party and a family Thanksgiving and not have a drop of alcohol or ANY CARBS???? I couldn’t even sneak, he watched me like a hawk. If you are at a family gathering, you should be allowed to drink. Heavily.

I don’t know what my point to this is, really, except that I worry about my daughter – I want her to enjoy food and not feel guilt, I want her to be healthy but not be slave to what a society that is so dyfunctional it elected a mentally incompetent orange reality TV show host who calls women fat pigs and hosts Miss Universe pageants says is healthy and beautiful. Because what the woman from the body positivity article said is true: she looked exactly like western society says a healthy woman ought to look. But she was miserable. She was hungry all the time and didn’t like herself. But I’m kind of at the opposite end right now–I’m not hungry all the time, but I don’t like myself. And I’m becoming acutely aware, based on questions my daughter is beginning to ask and conversations we’re beginning to have, that she’s watching me and what I do or don’t do.

So I’m going to think about that today. And maybe clean my kitchen. MAYBE.

i think this sums up the body messages women deal with on a daily basis. when fitness model moms aren’t making them feel like crap about their work-life balance.
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