I stress over the spots on my face where the foundation’s coverage makes no impact. My thoughts swirl for hours after those pants won’t button. I wonder if everyone can actually see the belly flab I’m trying to hide behind the mid-section wrinkles of my tank top. All, because I’m trying. Everyday. I try, try, try to look more like that picture on the magazine cover. I try, try, try to make you think that my skin is smooth, my stomach flat, and my thighs are thin.
I’m a group fitness instructor, a mother of four, and a body image blogger. I write to encourage women who struggle in this arena. I love the way the contributors to this blog have bared their souls (and their stomachs) to encourage other women that we are more than what we look like on the outside. I appreciate the stories they’ve shared: the confessions of struggle with accepting the changes motherhood has reeked on their physiques. The tales of surrender to the new mommy bod, and realizing that culture’s standard of beauty is ridiculous and unattainable move us all to be a little kinder to ourselves and remember the great “cause” that bestowed this new shape upon us. But, I think there’s a bigger question that all women, everywhere, need to answer on the issue of body image.
That is: Why?
Why is beauty, size, shape…what we look like on the outside so important to so many? I think the answer is found in asking our hearts a question. What do I believe in my heart that more beauty will give me? Does a smaller dress size equate to a better marriage? Happier kids? A more peaceful life? Does a thigh gap mean that my financial situation will improve or my friends will be more faithful? The truth is: of course not. All you have to do is read the tabloids to see that even the beautiful go bankrupt, lose children, suffer from addictions used to soothe great unhappiness, and have failed marriages. But, fellow mommy, if you still struggle. If you’ve heard every line about “loving your body” and “making peace” with your new shape and you are still frustrated. Still trying. Still hung up on how to look better. I encourage you to ask why. I’m a bit of an anomaly in the body image camp. I actually don’t believe you have to love your body. Because, to be honest: I don’t love mine. I wish my thighs didn’t touch. I wish that any amount of tricep presses would make my arms jiggle less. I wish my eyes were bigger and my nose was thinner. But, I’m not stuck there anymore. I’m not consumed in a battle to be beautiful because I’ve grown to realize that my appearance isn’t where my value is found. And, that if I try to find value, happiness, and joy in the way I look…it doesn’t deliver. Fellow mom, you are more than your dress size, scars and cellulite.
And, you don’t have to try, try, try.
Colbie Caillat did an incredible music video titled “Try” about this struggle. Watch it here!
Written by Heather Creekmore
Heather is passionate about helping women who struggle with their body image and has recently completed her first book on the topic. She’s a group fitness instructor, speaker, mother of four, wife to Eric (a Marine fighter pilot-turned-pastor), and public relations representative for the Dallas Moms Blog. During her single years, Heather spent more than a decade working in politics and non-profit management. She much prefers being a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom (but thinks it’s more difficult!). Follow her blog about body image, motherhood, and faith “Working Out Love” or connect with her via Facebook or Twitter.