Friday, June 26, 2015

I'm a Big, Fat Hypocrite

Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed the other day I came across an article a guy wrote after eating food marketed for women.

**Spoiler Alert**: Nothing happened. Other than him feeling hungry most of the time and craving fresh vegetables after two weeks of sugary, prepackaged foods.

While I was reading it I was struck with how cliche and downright awful the marketing is for these supposed healthy foods.

SkinnyGirl, Skinny Cow (that would be an insult where I'm from), Svelte Popcorn, Bombshell Jerky...all those names are focused on appearance and weight, not health.

I am always talking to my girls about the importance of being healthy, not skinny, and how the women in magazines and movies are photoshopped and work for hours exercising and eating healthy. I try to convey that appearance, while it is the first thing you notice, isn't what defines a person. A beautiful person can have an ugly heart and a nasty personality, which is far worse than not looking like a supermodel.

I notice my stepdaughters, one in particular, are very self conscious and aware of their appearance. They are identical twins and were always skinny as twigs and could eat anything they wanted. About three years ago one started gaining weight and we couldn't figure out why. We found out that she was eating two lunches at school, after her sister ratted her out. Since then it has become clear to me that she is an emotional eater.

She now has the better part of thirty pounds on her twin and stepsister, who is only a year younger than them. I die a little inside every time I see her covering her stomach when she's in a bikini, or when she is told she has to change because her outfit is too small or tight on her.

I cook nutritious meals with lean meat, vegetables and a starch. We don't go out to eat often, and we go for fast food even less. I keep fruit and yogurt in the house, but we also have ice cream, chips and cookies. I am trying to teach them that it is all about balance. They can have the treats as long as the majority of what they consume is the healthier stuff.

Here's where the hypocrisy comes in.

I want to look like one of those actresses or models. I want to be skinny, and beautiful and still be able to eat whatever I want and not have to work hard for it.

While I sit here and wax poetic about how life is about balance and health and how your clothes feel, not the size on the tag, I cringe every time I have to put a bathing suit on. I feel a rush of excitement when I fit back into a pair of pants I haven't been able to wear for a while and I hate myself a little when my pants start to get too tight again.

I constantly compare myself to other women. Strangers at the grocery store, friends who have had babies and look amazing and even people I know have let themselves go a little. I don't voice my comparisons or insecurities to my kids, I don't tell them when I go on a diet to drop a few pounds, or that I've taken up running to lose the jiggle. I tell them that I'm trying to be more healthy, and that running is good for my heart and overall health.

I tell my kids not to worry about what other people think about them, and that they are kids and don't need to diet, and that their thighs are supposed to jiggle a little. Meanwhile I'm wishing I had the body I did before kids, that my boobs would sit where they're supposed to without a bra like they used to and that my chin hadn't developed some weird adult acne issue once a month.

In a society that is so obsessed with appearance, is it possible to be truly happy with how we look? Are there people out there who are content with the body, skin and hair they have? If so, how do they get to that point? When I lost the weight from my last baby I felt awesome. I had a new lease on life. I enjoyed dressing and clothes shopping again.

Then the excitement wore off and I started judging myself again. My thighs have too much cellulite, my arms jiggle too much and my belly is still saggy. I know that the way I see myself when I'm naked isn't the same way my husband sees me. I know I'm too harsh on myself and that I should be happy I'm healthy and look at my saggy boobs and stomach as some kind of badge of honor for having carried and given life to three amazing children.

But I can't. I don't need my body to be a constant reminder of my kids, they are my reminder.

Is it just a case of do as I say, not as I do (or feel)? Am I just going to have to be a hypocrite for the rest of my life telling my kids to be one way and pretending to be that way myself? 

Maybe if I keep telling myself that appearance doesn't matter I will start believing it.

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