On Sunday evening Caroline asked me how much I weigh. My response: "None of your business." Brandon's response: "Women don't like to talk about their weight." She was stumped. Getting bigger is awesome to her.
Her question hit me right in the middle of the perfect storm of self doubt and hatred. For the last few months I've been struggling with my weight. (Go ahead and shake your heads, it's fine.) I gained what is a significant amount of weight for me in what I consider a short amount of time. There's no logical reason for the change -- I'm eating no better or worse, I am NOT pregnant, for several months I was exercising regularly (fell right back off that wagon), and no medical conditions. I was concerned enough that I convinced the doctor to do a thyroid test just in case. I'm just not where I belong in my mind.
During our vacation I donned my bikini a couple times for maximum baking potential. (We can discuss the modesty issue of bikinis later.) Sometimes I wear a bikini because I like the attention from my husband. I'm not interested in others seeing me in my bikini, just him, so these instances are limited. All was well until Sunday evening when I was downloading pictures off my camera. I came across a picture that Brandon had taken of me in my bikini.
Immediately I started to analyze every aspect of the picture -- my stomach looks fat, there's no muscle definition, I think I see a cellulite dimple on my thigh. I couldn't stand to look at the picture! All that I saw was a fat woman trying to wear a bikini who really shouldn't be! Even now I hate the person I saw in the picture. That isn't what I want to look like. My husband deserves someone who looks better than that. As I spiraled out of control Brandon teetered between trying to explain the ridiculousness of my argument, being supportive, and acting as a voice of reason.
How I see myself affects more than just me. It affects how I interact with my husband, how I compare myself to other women, and is a terrible example for my daughters. During a followup discussion about the bikini picture Brandon asked me who's standard I was using to judge myself. "Mine." To which he responded, "Do you want your daughters to use the same standard?" That was a little harsh but I knew that it was true. I don't want my daughters to have this same struggle.
I have always struggled to believe that I was beautiful. Some times I have just masked it better than others. No matter my size I have always looked at other women and tried to copy them to improve myself. There always seems to be something better about them. There are very few pictures of me as an adult because I hate to look at myself. I feel like I have to work hard to make myself look good and then if I do feel good I feel guilty. Good christian wives shouldn't try to attract attention to themselves, right? Is it wrong to enjoy looking good?
I'm not going to claim to have an answer to my problem but I think that being honest might be a step in the right direction. I need to stop insisting that my husband is just saying I'm beautiful because he's settling for the wife that he has. I need to be ok with the body I have or be serious about being healthy -- not just thin. Maybe I even need to be ok with the idea that I'm not 20 anymore and maintaining that body might not be reasonable.
I need to love the body that God has given me -- big hips, small chest, undefined stomach, so straight it scoffs at being curled hair, and skin that refuses to give up on the occasional pimple.
Psalm 139: 14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made"
For years I have lied to myself over and over again about everything that is so ugly about me. I keep telling myself that I'm not good enough for my husband. I feel like I'm not good enough for my "position" in life. And now, I'm modeling those same lies for my daughters. I might not be saying those words to them but I'm teaching them to judge themselves and that there is shame in our bodies. It's ridiculous when my daughter tries to show me her "fat" legs but I know where she learned that.
My value does not come from my outward appearance, my value is from the outward display of the Holy Spirit's work inside me. I must teach myself to love who God created and the awesome changes that he has made in me.
Proverbs 31: 30-31 "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Not even in the spirit of honesty am I going to tell you my weight or post that picture though! I'm not there yet.