I happened to be passing by my daughter’s bedroom the other day and glancing in I saw her looking at herself in the mirror. There is nothing out of the ordinary in a twelve-year-old being inquisitive about her changing self. But what struck me at that particular moment of time was the expression of a subtle ‘scrutiny’ on her face.
And that is what has today brought me to write about the topic of being ‘body confident’ which is in itself an area of life I have myself struggled with at various times and stages. It takes a certain amount of blasé attitude and iron resolve to remain unruffled and not be bothered by comments let alone criticism.
Unfortunately, I seriously lack the skills of remaining ‘unaffected’. Perhaps this ‘lack’ of resolve was born out of always having been conscious about my body type. When sorting through the lucky dip raffles in the gene pool I happened to have bagged the ‘pear shape’. Which also means, that my body is super-efficient, proficient and always more than eager to store ‘fat’ on the not so wanted places. To be honest, I think I’d even put on weight if I so much as sniffed at a cookie let alone eat it.
One thing though I have always been clear about. And that is, that I never want any sort of negative body image ideas to germinate or take hold over my daughter’s self-image conceptions. I also know that I am up against a tide which can be powerful and sweeping at times. But a mother will do what she can do. Always. Period.
When the inner most, secret and controversial thoughts of our minds find the affirmation of their false truth within the sometimes-shallow walls of social media they happen to take on a stronger hold and attribute to themselves more power and authoritative control. Validation is the key to authentication. And in this case, all we see around us is a bevy of ‘perfect’ women with ‘perfect’ bodies. Yes, we all know that they may have been photo-shopped, may have a halo of haze and mist surrounding them and be the reflection of a false illusion in a mirror of delusion. Nevertheless, if we actually are true to our innermost thoughts then we shall also perhaps realize and to some degree accept that in some small ‘vain’ corner of our hearts and minds we actually desire to emulate that perfection and make it our own.
But somewhere, in this mind-boggling sea of ‘so-called’ perfect sizes and shapes, the real woman and all that she connotes happens to get lost. We fail to realize that a real woman will look real and wobbles and jiggles are sometimes a part of that ‘real’ image. At times so lost has this real woman gotten and her true image has sometimes been relegated to such far corners that a generation has almost chosen to forsake her and idolize and run after her more plastic and externally sculpted counterpart.
I really do not lay any onus of blame on my daughter for looking at her body and judging it against the barometer of the women and girls whose pictures scream at one from every possible magazine in the magazine aisle. But what I would like her to adopt and ingrain in herself is the firm and unshakable seed of thought that she is beautiful. Beautiful in her own self and in her own right. So strong should this seed of thought grow that it should be capable to silence any voice that seeks to insinuate anything otherwise. Her happiness, satisfaction and indicator of ‘beauty’ should never be a slave to a particular number on the inch tape or weighing scale.
By all means I advocate being healthy and following a lifestyle where exercise and clean eating are given due importance. But what I am vehemently against is, is becoming a slave of a false illusion. Aspiring towards an unreal image and in the process becoming a victim of an all-consuming ‘nervous paranoia’ of not fitting in, is the worst dis-service we can do to our own selves.
The main aim of this post is to be a 100% honest to you about my approach to being body confident when women are being body shamed all around the world. Being honest also means that I should accept that Yes, I am guilty to having in the past aspired towards being ‘skinny’ no matter how screwed up those concepts of ‘being skinny’ and wearing ‘skinny clothes’ were. Three pregnancies and child births have only contributed to the yo-yoing between putting on and losing weight and in between being consumed by the thoughts of how to lose the damn weight! All each successive pregnancy did was make that pear shape of mine healthier, pronounced and more robust. And no, sadly breastfeeding did not make the fat melt away or the weight magically fall off. If anything, my body seemed to zealously hold on to every drop of fat cell as though its bloody life and existence depended upon it!
Sometimes, in our over eager attempts to emulate certain women, we also tend to forget and overlook the fact that a few women are genetically predisposed to remaining slim and lithe. But that in no means should be a propeller and endorser of a feeling that propagates the idea that one is not ‘good’ enough if a certain pair of pants do not fit. No matter what stage of post-partum you are at, be it weeks, months or even years we should learn to love ourselves for who we are. Hell, we grew the most beautiful mini humans we have ever set our eyes upon. And if our stomachs wobble a bit or arms jiggle a little then there is no need to beat ourselves over it.
If you are truly unhappy and would like to drop a few pounds, aspire towards being fitter then yes nothing beats the time-tested combination of exercise and healthy eating. But please do not take it to an extreme and place it on a pedestal that requires the sacrifice of every happiness at its altar.
It is also wonderful to see women world over now stand up to body shaming and claim back the love they have for their bodies. And to hell with the negative aspersions being cast upon them. We were never an object and should never choose to be projected as one.
If I am a 100% percent honest with you, then I can tell you that at times when my babies have slept I have myself been so darn tired that plugging a DVD in and exercising to it has been the last thing on my hormonal and sleep deprived mind.
So please let’s promise one another to never hide our tears behind a fake smile.
Let’s promise one another to see the woman in each of us rather than focusing on the external facade.
Let’s promise one another to think positive, be positive and remain positive about ourselves.
Let’s choose to never be a slave to numbers and inches.
Let’s never laugh at the jokes made at our expense. Laugh back at their ignorance and maybe they’ll finally find their sense.We are all women, beautiful in our own selves. In our differences and diversity beauty lies and dwells.
Let’s build each other up rather than tear one another down.
Let’s not focus on the flaws but know you are always the princess who wears the crown!
So live, laugh, exercise, eat well and be happy.But never ever hold your happiness captive to a false captor.
As for my daughter, I shall keep affirming to her every day as she grows up that she is beautiful and precious to us. She is absolutely wonderful in every which way. A beautiful girl who is growing up to be a beautiful woman one day!