Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Body Image...

** FYI-->I wrote this a few weeks ago but just never got around to finishing it until this morning. :)
Today I woke up a little "off", if you will. We all have those days, but when they happen to me, ugh, boy do I hate it. It all started last night... an innocent trip to Target to buy garden gloves for Aspen for her service project at school today, and a strapless bra for Courtney for her big event this evening. It all started off great.. we walked in, spotted a dozen cute little summer dresses that we simply just had to try on, and then....it happened. The shift in the mood, the shift in the security department...

Let me just say that the 3 way mirrors & lighting in this Target's dressing room... bites. .

I was so pumped to try on all these cute little dresses, when a glimpse of the 3 way mirror sucked the joy right out of my little heart. It crushed my mood, crushed my self esteem, crushed my joy, and most importantly.. stole my peace. Ironically, something that I've been noticing (a lot) lately is that I will write a blog post, yet not quite finish it, so it sits un-published, but... in the subject of which I'm writing about.. the opposite will then happen to me. It's getting rather comical because the enemy has been on the prowl lately, I've been seeing it more & more. He usually gets his way & tries to stir up problems or feelings or plays the head games, but it's when I recognize that it's him doing the tormenting, the stirring up problems, that I then can turn to the One who I know fights on my behalf. My peace comes from God, and that's something that no one or anything can ever take away from me. It's good to have that promise embedded into my heart and to know what signs to look for when it's an attack. It doesn't make it any easier to get through it, but at least I know I'm on the right path for him to try & take his punches. But, it seems like whatever words & feelings I put down on this screen, it's used against me. I have gotten really deep on a lot of issues,of which, hopefully someday I will share the posts, and time and time again--- that's exactly where the attack starts. Ironic? I think not.

Anyways, I had been in the process of sharing a post about body image just the day before, how I was finally in a good place with the way that I look.. not because I think I look like hot stuff, mind you, but simply because of the realization that I'm not defined by how I look... how I'm perfect in my imperfections.. beautiful because I'm flawed. Ironically, I use to never, ever wear something out in public that didn't show off my waist, the smallest part of my frame. Every single thing I wore (had) to compliment my figure, or I wanted no part of it. If I wore even simi-non fitting clothing, I would appear much bigger than I actually am to the world, and it would play havoc on my mind. Having struggled with body image, I wanted no part in that. I wanted people to see my actual figure, not in a hoochie-kinda-way, mind you..sister don't play like that, but it was always important to me that people saw my real figure, so the cutesy baby-doll style or flowy dresses? They would never, ever make their way into my closet, no matter how cute they were. Other people's perception of me mattered.
That was about 2 years ago... Then, I learned to accept me, I learned to let go of what other people thought of me and focused on what God thought of me. I wasn't living for everyone else, I was living for Him. If I ever get around to sharing a post that I wrote months ago about life, the journey to self-discovery.. then you will understand my heart a little more. But, I will say that it took me going through a really, really difficult time in life for me to have no other choice but to dig deep within my own self, my own heart, and find the strength of true acceptance of who I am & then I started allowing the layers to slowly be peeled away.

As woman, we are taught by society that we are defined by our beauty, by our bodies. Such lies were told. Beauty comes from within... who you are on the inside is the true beauty. Sure, we hear that all the time.. but do we allow ourselves to really, really beleive it, in our hearts? The horrible game of comparison steals our joy and robs us of contentment. I've been teaching this a lot lately to my own girls. Two of my daughters are petite, like their mama,.. and have their mama's build. Ah yes, lucky girls.. They have muscles in their thighs that show their strength, lots of curves, & both have shared that they wish they had "such and such" legs.... because they are skinnier than theirs. At first, this broke my heart but oh, how I could relate. Comparison.... How this horrible thing can ruin your self-esteem, steal your contentment with yourself, and can play such cruel head-games- a never ending battle that can never be won until, and only until, you take control of it and face it head on with truth. The conversations with my girls always go something on the lines of: "God made you beautiful and perfect JUST the way that you are! While you're looking at someone else, wishing you had their legs, or their hair, or their shape... I gtd. you that same girl who, to you, seems perfect.. is wishing her legs, or hair, or body looked like someone else's. It's a vicious cycle and one that I talk about often with my girls. We talk about how much their bodies are going to change from now until they are in the early 20's, how it's a process. To accept their bodies & appreicate how strong it is. How each of us were made differently, PERFECT in His image, and how we need to always focus on the GOOD, and not the lies that our minds try to tell our hearts. Oh, the conversations we have had. The ideal body type has been embedded into the minds of everyone- including my little girls, no thanks to society and the media, however... the sooner all girls (and woman) learn to love & accept their own bodies, appreciate the beauty that comes in all shapes & sizes, the happier we will all be. We are not defined by how we look, we are defined by who we are.. by our very own hearts that shine with kindness & with love.

A few years ago I let it all go. I decided that I no longer cared what other people thought of me, I embraced SIMPLE, CONTENTMENT, SELF-ACCEPTANCE, and ahhhh, talk about a sigh of relief! It was a long journey to get to this place... I use to fight with myself all the time. Oh, the battle in my own heart and mind that would take place daily. I beleive in REAL, and I'm not going to lie... sometimes those lies sneak up on me when I'm not looking & try to rob me of my joy, just like it did in that dumb dressing room. But I then take a step back, realize the GOOD and then... acceptance, peace..... I soon started wearing anything that I so desired. Those cute, flowy dresses? You'll now find more of them in my closet than you will anything else. Those long, non-fitting maxi dresses that cover up your figure, several years ago, I wouldn't be caught dead in? Why, I'm sporting one right-this-very-moment...thankyouverymuch.
Don't get me wrong, sister still loves a nice dress that shows off the waistline, but I learned to just BE ME. To BE happy. content. proud of my body, it's strength, it's ability to birth a small army.. (joking, there...) and still be the size that it is. I learned that perfection is not an achievable goal.. but being your very best is, in a healthy way. I stopped fighting with myself and simply embraced the body that I was given. I learned, and yes, sometimes I still need to be reminded), to over-look the flaws that (gasp!) 39 years, 6 pregnancies, and a weight gain/loss of over 300+lbs stretched out over just pregnancy alone, has made on this little body of mine. Quite frankly, I'm very, very thankful... flaws & all. God has made our bodies to be powerful & so amazing... when you think about all that your body has been through and all that it can do, you should be amazed, I know I sure am.

I'm at my happiest when I'm exercising, doing good for my physical body, my spirit, my mind... if I sat around on my hinny all day, eating high-fatty, high-sugary foods-- of course I'm not going to FEEL my best, let alone LOOK my best.Been there, done that... And here's the beautiful thing I learned along the way... my version of my personal best isn't going to be someone else's view of me. If I'm happy INTERNALLY with myself, nothing else matters. I have also found along the way that when I'm happy, REALLY happy & content with ME on the inside.. everything else falls into place. And when those attacks start to happen on my mind, and they start to play havoc on my self-worth? Though I begin to feel defeated.. like everything else around me isn't where it needs to be, that's when I fight back, full force... I pray, I surrender, ask for protection... and I know that everything is going to fall back into place because of who I have on my side. And it always, always happens.... always.

That mirror at Target was used to play the head games with me. To make me feel yucky on the inside because of what I saw on the outside... in that brief moment. For crying out loud, it's a mirror--- it's not a reflection of who I am-- because who I AM is not defined by flaws or imperfections of any sort. So Target mirror, TAKE THAT!

For 2 days I allowed that mirror to defeat me. I felt ashamed, I felt ugly, I felt embarrassed, I felt fat.. then, it hit me. I knew what the enemy was trying to do, and for a brief time- I allowed him to suck me back to feeling bad about myself. God gives us the gift of wisdom thanks to The Holy Spirit. I knew I had seen myself in several other 3 way mirrors throughout the last week- what I saw was far from anything pretty (is there really a reason why 3 way mirrors have to exist, anyways? Pfft, I mean, really? But.. I knew it wasn't as bad as what that pathetic mirror at Target showed me. I KNEW I had been busting TAIL at work-out class, and KNEW I could tell a difference & how much toner I was getting. I KNEW I was at a healthy weight for ME, and though losing a little here and a little there is every girls dream, I had been CONTENT, HAPPY with my body & I KNEW I wasn't going to allow ONE bad trip to Target to steal that from me. 2 days after feeling blah about myself (chalk it up to PMSing, if you must....) I put on a cute dress with my cute little cowboy boots (something, again, I wouldn't ever do in the past because lets face it, cowboy boots aren't 4 inch heels that give a 4"11 gal height), I smiled back at the mirror, embraced the flaws that I saw staring back at me and honest-to-God said out loud to just myself, "Embrace it, girl.. Rome wasn't built in a day!". And embrace it once again, I did.

Don't ever let something, or someone steal your joy. It took me YEARS and YEARS to come to that beautiful place of contentment & acceptance of who I am. I found it in my late 20's, just to have it taken away from me due to life circumstances-(again, that's in another post that maybe, someday.. I'll get around to sharing), but then.. I re-discovered that PEACE and I will never, ever allow anything or anyone to take it away from me again. You will see this chick wearing comfy, flowy dresses, long BOHO style skirts, flowy tank-tops.. even flat sandals with NO heel-- and loving every single minute of it. I am so happy with the gal that I have become...such a journey. I'm still a work in progress, aren't we all? But oh, how I have came so far.

So, Target mirror.... pfft, nice try! It may have worked for a few days, but sister ain't no fool.. if we allow ourselves to focus on the bad/negative it will rob us of our peace, happiness, and our joy. I will not allow minor set-backs or attacks on my mind to change my heart or the way that I see myself-- I've came way, too far to look back now. Embrace the flaws and move forward with a smile.... and, maybe.. just maybe kick a little harder at kickboxing class, and run a little faster at bootcamp class. Because afterall, I heard that Rome wasn’t built in a day..but, it was built! :)

Peace out, homies!


Unknown said...

You are so wise Chrystal. And so beautiful, as are your girls!

Anonymous said...

Ah, thanks so much- that was really sweet. And, it's also nice to see that someone actually reads my rambles :) hahaha -Chrystal-