Losing Weight After 30: Love your body at every stage.
This is hard to write. Mostly because I’m talking to myself, and it feels slightly like I’m publishing a diary entry. But spending hours a day online, many of those browsing Facebook, has taught me a few you think about this, too, and I believe what I’m about to say fills a gap in the narrative we’ve been writing.
There is a strong movement for women to feel beautiful no matter their weight. Which, we all know, is nearly impossible, when that movement is drowned out by professional media and their efforts to get us to hate ourselves unless we manage to look like Kate Moss (without quitting our jobs and dedicating hours and thousands of dollars to customized fitness routines, diet, and surgery).
Men have to face images of rippled actors who tell them that if they want to BE a man, they have to have cut triceps and a specific number of visible ab muscles.
This can feel very defeating when you (I) are trying to get to a healthy place, but are discouraged knowing that you (I) will never, ever, look like Thandie Newton, and that your (my) body even at its best will fall short of your (my) hopes and dreams.
I know some women who can prance out in a bikini and feel just great about themselves. I am not one of those women. It doesn’t matter how many people tell me I’m not the fat lady at the beach, I FEEL like I’m the fat lady at the beach that people are pointing to and making fun of. Who knows why? Maybe it goes back to daddy issues, maybe it’s the bullying I took in high school, maybe it’s the fact that sometimes my ex-husband told me I was not pretty enough. I honestly don’t know the root of my insecurity. The question is what to do with it now.
Here’s a beautiful thing that I have been trying to learn as I go through this process of losing weight even as I watch my body age, and am daily reminded that my 20s are behind me: every size and shape has a beauty all its own, every age is lovely in its own way.
My current partner has actually been very helpful with this. Now please do not misunderstand what I am saying: you do NOT need a romantic or sexual partner in order to feel good about your body. I completely reject that! But it is helpful to remove negative voices from your life. Voices that tell you if you put on more makeup, lose a few extra pounds, or boost the girls up a cup size, that makes you more beautiful. Replace those voices with positive voices.
Here’s what having a partner who actually likes the way I look has helped me realize: You can always enjoy your body. When I was heavier, I had these big bodacious boobs. Now my legs are trimming down and I feel comfortable in shorts. Eventually my waist will get to my goal size. But I won’t have huge boobs at that point. And that is okay. Every one of these stages is lovely in a different way. I have a goal in mind that meets a lifestyle and a body size preference that I had developed for myself. Kim Kardashian has a different goal. Go her.
And if you need evidence that beauty can age, just look at photos of Helen Mirren. THAT is what aging gracefully looks like. It doesn’t mean you fight the inevitable. It means you embrace it with the new level of confidence, competence and wisdom that is so deep it shines out of your skin.
I know it sounds trite, but you have to find the beauty in the journey. So no, I don’t fit into the leather pants I want to go clubbing in right now. But I have a booty that can stop traffic. Find those things about yourself. Realize first of all that tastes vary and different cultures all define beauty differently, so there is no objective standard. All you have to believe is that you ARE lovely, as you are.
And don’t just watch what others say to you, watch what you say to others. Are you reinforcing a judgmental culture without meaning to? Encourage someone who is trying to eat healthier, but when they criticize themselves, or women on magazine covers, challenge that. Who says your thighs are too thick? Who says that woman needs to be a stick after having a baby? And sure real women have curves. Sometimes real women also have long thin torsos and narrow hips.
Take off the ugly goggles put there by an industry that only thrives if you feel unattractive. See with your own eyes, and see people as they truly are: varied and gorgeous.