Thursday, August 1, 2013
First Phase Reflections: Volume Two
There's no denying the enormous pressure that society places on women to look like supermodels. It seems it's impossible to see celebrity news about who's pregnant without it being coupled by articles about how she plans on losing that baby weight. I get offended by this culture's obsession with women getting back to their pre-pregnancy body. I mean, pregnant women grow people! They create, sustain, and birth other people, and rather than feel awe at the immensity of such an accomplishment, rather than show reverence for the interior journey that such experiences bring about, many instead choose to focus on how women look as a result of this. This is akin to someone climbing Mount Everest and rather than focusing on the struggle or achievement of such an exterior and interior journey, choosing instead to focus on the fact that she looked rather windblown when she reached the top. I mean, really?!
Knowing that most women don't like their bodies, I typically unfollow all Pinterest fitness boards. I don't like the shame that such images often elicit. I mean healthy is good, but I don't think it's natural and it's likely not healthy for many women who have children to look like they did before they had them. So many of the images seem so unrealistic for a lot of body types anyway. So, I'm all for having reverence for one's body and trying to be healthy, because after all, taking care of yourself is a sign of self-respect. I don't like, however, the fact that so many people believe that they have no value or worth apart from their appearance.
As a mother, I wonder about how I can protect my daughters from feeling this way and I've read various articles that discuss the negative self-talk that many women give their daughters. Typically women who complain about their weight all the time and talk about how they need to go on a diet (or about being on a diet) will have daughters who internalize those thoughts and think the same about their own bodies, even if such perceptions are false. In an attempt to help my daughters like their bodies, if I get out of the shower and they are in the bathroom (because us mothers know how hard it is to get any privacy, amiright?) I loudly proclaim, "What a gorgeous body!" A friend of mine who has grown daughters used to do this, and now I've adopted the practice myself. It might be different if I had boys, but I have three girls, so I don't feel the need to hide my nakedness in their presence. In an age where women's photo-shopped bodies are plastered over nearly every magazine and billboard, I feel it's healthy for them to see a real woman's body, with all its stretchmarks and supposed flaws. In fact, two days after I gave birth in October, you know, when my belly was in that deflated-balloon stage, when the mere act of walking made me want to hold my tummy tightly so my insides didn't wiggle around so much, I emerged from the shower and said, "What an amazing body I have! I just grew a baby and gave birth to her! Isn't that amazing? And now my body is feeding her everything she needs! Wow." Maybe I'm a little overzealous in this department, but it seems the negative messages are everywhere, and maybe I'm the only person they'll hear talking about how amazing our bodies are.
It saddens me to see so many people who believe that if they just lost that magical number on the scale that then they'd have value, then they would be somebody. So many people don't know that they are somebody today. So many don't know that nothing they have done or not done, nothing others have done or not done, can take away their dignity. Our task is not to complete something or fulfill something so that we will matter. We matter already. Our task is to live a life that reflects the dignity that we already have.
All of this is my long-winded way of saying why I don't exercise, hardly ever. The thing is, though, I have a bum knee. I tore my Anterior Crucial Ligament when I was 12, and I have a screw in that knee that reattached the ligament to my tibia. Some time after the surgery, part of that ligament died off and so pretty much the only thing holding my knee in place is the muscles around it. My knee has been giving out on me a lot lately, like for no apparent reason. Get on the floor to play with my kids? Bam! I'm stopped by pain in my knee and the inability to use my leg until I can pop my knee back in place. Yeah, it's painful. Though it's not rocket science, I finally realized while in my first phase that I needed to start exercising. Not exercising wasn't respecting myself. I mean, if I'm increasingly unable to do normal things on account of not being toned, then maybe I should do something about that. After all, our bodies are amazing; we ought to take care of them.
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