A few Saturday mornings ago, I was getting ready to workout. I had on pajama bottoms that are probably 5 sleeps away from completely disintegrating, paired with a sports bra. I was not exactly a vision. Anyways, I was walking around my condo doing who knows what (I get easily distracted) when I sauntered past a mirror. Mind you, I do not typically stroll around in just a bra because well, it’s just not my thing. ANYWAYS, I caught a glimpse of my stomach. Well really I caught a glimpse of what I thought might actually be abs. I had to rub my eyes a few times to make sure I was not dreaming. I obviously had to strike a few different poses and angles to confirm it was not just a figment of my imagination. I also went into my bathroom to check in that mirror. I turned on and off every combination of lights from my bathroom to the hallway to my bedroom. Ok so at this point of reading, you are thinking, “Missy, you are psycho”. Yes, yes I am. And that is the point of this story.
The psychosis continued. I messaged two of my friends that I knew would tell me if there were really indeed traces of abdominal muscles showing or if it was a figment of my imagination. I expected them to confirm the latter, but much to my dismay, they did not. They told me something like “Missy, you look amazing! And you need to get your head checked. You have total body dysmorphia.”
I share this little story because I know I am not the only one with thoughts like this. I know I am not the only one even at my age who still struggles with body image insecurities. I also know that like many of you, for every moment of confidence I have, I have exponentially more moments of self-doubt.
At this point, I could go in a few directions with this (much like the book series I grew up with, Choose Your Own Adventure). I could write about how we are our own worst critics and give a few tips for how we perhaps can start to change our thinking, but that is not really the main point that is percolating in my brain.(Nor do I truly know how to do that because surely if I did, I would not even be writing this post today). If you are like me, our insecurities are years in the making. I am not arrogant enough to think my post will make any of us, including myself, think otherwise. Or perhaps I could write about how we as a society have unrealistic expectations, but that’s been done time and time again. I would not do it justice.
Truth be told, I have edited this post about 5 times because I keep vacillating on what is I really want to articulate. I have pinpointed what I essentially want to tell myself and anyone else reading this who also finds themselves obsessing about what they think is imperfect about themselves: Let’s cut ourselves some slack. We will always have goals or some formed idea of what we think perfect is that we continuously work towards, possibly never to actually be achieved (not because of pessimism, but because we must admit we often set unrealistic goals). Because the thing is, there is no perfect. We can spend our whole lives feeling like we do not measure up, and it becomes like any other negative thought we have. We start thinking it and putting it out there. We keep seeing flaws and ignore everything else. Instead, we need to focus on the positive and freakin compliment ourselves for when we notice something that makes us go, “Well damn, that is impressive.”
Yes, absolutely, I want a 6 pack or even just to have a flat tummy. I also workout like a boss and I do stuff that blows my own mind. Maybe my abs are not where I want them to be, but what about those traps? Or biceps? Or whatever it is. My body does reflect the work I put into it if I would just take a minute to acknowledge it and appreciate it.
I know that despite a few bad ass bathroom selfies I am not going to poof, become totally in love with my body. Nor do I expect you to overcome whatever your insecurities are from one little ole blog post. But I do think though that what I learned from those pics is that I spend a lot of time zooming into pictures and honing in on everything and anything I do not like (and I know a lot of you do the same… It’s ok to admit it, I just did!) We are not going to change overnight what could be years, decades even, of negative thoughts, but I sure do not want to feel like they are ruling my life. I do not want to be consumed by the negative. I should not need anyone else either to validate how I look (as I did in sending my abs photo to friends). If I see it, I should own it. So should you. End of story.