If you don’t like you, who will?

According to Mothering Magazine, today is Compliment Your Mirror Day!

Seeing as how Mothering is the absolute BEST magazine on the face of the planet, I figure it must be true, and that’s got me thinking about how very few compliments I’ve been paying my mirror lately.

I’m afraid I’m falling into a really harsh period of self-criticism in my journey toward good health. You’d think that establishing healthier eating habits, becoming more in tune with my body, and trying to maintain a healthier lifestyle overall would make me feel pretty dang good about myself. But, I’m afraid the opposite may be happening. But, knowing myself and how self-critical I’ve always been, this really isn’t any big surprise. A positive self-image has never been easily attainable for me, and except for when I was pregnant and my body was doing something absolutely magical, I’ve never liked what I’ve seen in the mirror. 

I think it’s because I only see my weight, and I directly equate my weight with my self-discipline and ability to achieve a goal. So for me, weight=self-worth, whether I like it or not.

Now, I just have to figure out what to do about it.

Here are a few examples.

1. Not long ago, I ran to the grocery store to pick up a few items. I wanted some falafel mix, some whole wheat pitas, dates, all the normal stuff. My husband says to me on my way out the door, “Can you get me a bag of chips, and some frozen chicken pies for my lunch.” 8O (Yes, my husband has a certain fondness for the bachelor food of his past….I’ll just say EW! and save that for another post…) 

As I walked through the grocery store, I filled my cart with my whole grain, all-natural, feel-good picks, and then darted over to the chips and freezer aisles to pick up my husband’s requests. I realized something was up when I found myself darting through the store, sure that someone would see my cart and think, “Boy, that girl sure doesn’t need to be eating those potato chips…” I was on the verge of embarrassment at the checkout, wondering if I should make a comment about how I certainly didn’t plan to eat the offending items…

First, I was angry with my husband. I don’t ask him to buy tampons, so he shouldn’t ask me to buy frozen, processed chicken in a goopy crust made of who-knows-what. Same thing, don’t you think? Then, I was angry with myself. First, I thought, be reasonable…nobody eats perfectly all the time, and second, don’t flatter yourself…nobody cares what’s in your cart!!

2. It’s one thing if I can’t compliment my own mirror, but I just can’t seem to accept a compliment from anyone else, either. My husband, my mom, several coworkers, have all paid me compliments lately, ranging from how my skin has gotten so much better since I’ve given up processed foods to how good I look post-prego. I know that my skin has gotten better, and I know that I have lost all my pregnancy weight and fit into clothes now that I couldn’t even wear before I got pregnant, but it just doesn’t feel right to me to accept a compliment with denying it, or following it up with something like, “Thanks, but it’s really just the clothes that make me look thinner” or  “I really should be exercising more because I’m so out of shape.”

I know it’s an unattractive way to be. Nobody likes a whiner. “Thank you” is what I should say. Just “Thank you.”

3. Today, I’m heading off to the biggest party of the year among my circle of friends. The 4th of July always brings crowds of people to an old friend’s house along the Susquehanna river, and it could easily turn into a 2-day event. Kegs of beer, lots of food, canoes and fireworks…it’s always a good time and a good chance to see all the people we don’t see all year long, including some who even come from out of state. 

I could be thinking of how much fun I’ll be having, but I’m not. I could be thinking about how much fun it will be to introduce my son to all the people who have not met him yet, but I’m not. My mind is on whether the new shorts I just got do a good enough job of hiding the body flaws I have since having my baby, and what I could possibly wear with them to emphasize the good and de-emphasize the bad. See, last year at this time I was a few months pregnant and I am absolutely terrified that someone at the party might snicker, “Wow, look how fat she got!” or “She’ll never look the same after having that baby.”

I’m so bad at group functions anyway because I get a bit of food phobia in a crowd. As in the grocery store, it goes back to thinking that everyone is going to notice what I eat and comment or wonder why I would possibly think it was a good idea to eat this, or that. I also feel that with my commitment to healthy eating, I might be considered a bit of a hypocrite is I indulge in some party food, I’ll discredit myself, and then all my hard work will be for naught.

Again, I don’t know why I think anyone even cares. In fact, I know that no one does. 

I am starting to become very aware of how observant my son is now that he’s not a newborn anymore, and how he is going to start really following my lead soon. I’m not kidding myself for one second into thinking that because I have a boy, I don’t have to worry about things like body image issues or self-love. My attitudes and behaviors will help mold the man he grows up to be, and I want the lens through which he views himself to be much, much more positive than mine, so I’d better get working on this. Nothing brings a bigger smile to his face right now than that baby in the mirror, and I’d like to keep it that way.

First step? I’m going to see how hot it is outside today, and I’m going to dress accordingly, so that I’m comfortable enough to wear my sling to carry around that perfect little being that this body created. If I don’t look perfect, so be it. And if I’m hungry, I’m going to make the best choice I can given the options at hand. 

And finally, if I pass a mirror in the course of my day, I’m going to tell that it doesn’t need to be perfect, because it’s pretty flippin’ remarkable the way it is. 

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What do you think when you look in the mirror?

Do you ever get self-conscious in the grocery store?

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Comments

  1. First, I really like the title of this post, which caught my eye.

    I do get self-conscious at the grocery store sometimes, but it’s sometimes from buying lots of healthy food. So many Americans fill their cart with processed junk, and my cart will have fruits and veggies and beans and yogurt. I feel like the odd one out. But I wouldn’t worry about adding certain items to your cart. Most people don’t care, or look.

  2. Great post, Wendy! I definitely struggle with this as well…just yesterday, at a holiday picnic, we were all playing around taking pictures and stuff. But of course five minutes later I immediately grabbed my camera to see how I looked in the photos – do I look fat or thin? Does my chest look gigantic or a reasonable size? (Most of my body-hatred focuses on the size of my chest, for whatever reason. I just can’t seem to make peace with it!)

    My goal now is to look at those photos again, and instead of just seeing my body or my chest, focus on how we’re all smiling, having a great time and enjoying one another’s company!

    • That’s a great goal! I have to admit, I do the same thing every time a pic is taken of me. I immediately delete it if I think I look fat (and I almost always think I look fat!)

      And as far as the chest thing goes, I couldn’t understand more. I feel like that is one of my biggest hang-ups, especially since I’ve been nursing my son. I’ve gone up 2 sizes and I feel like I just look awful, but everyone always acts like I should be thrilled because, ‘the bigger, the better’, right? I just feel like they make me look really big. I know the right thing to do is focus on the fact that those ‘girls’ have served their purpose really well, feeding my son for the past 8 months and helping him become a happy, healthy 20-pounder who has never been sick!

      Thanks for sharing, Katie. You are always an inspiration!

  3. I’m very critical of myself, almost to a fault. I find that I try to insult myself in social situations, almost to just get it out there what I think everyone else is already thinking. It’s an awful habit and one that I’m working on. Now that I’m on the healthy eating track, I really need to work on my body image. One day at a time, right…

    Have a wonderful 4th!

  4. When I was a size 12 i used to freak out at the grocery store because my mom would uby pop and chips for my brothers and I used to have anxiety when people looked in the cart. they were likely looking at nothing, probably even in their own mind, but to me every stare or every look was “hey, that girl doesnt need that!”

    its quite the thought process and an incredibly difficult thing to overcome. Even now being slim, i will sometimes get worried when i pick up a book like ‘skinny bitch’ that i found for 2 dollars at value village. i thought “ppl are probably thinknig its weird for a skinny girl to buy this book”

    i ended up taking a deep breath and reminded myself “no, these are my thoughts, and i want this book because it was recommended, its only 2 dollars, and the recipes seem fun!” then i proudly proceeded and all was fine.

    its so important to try to work it through in our minds and tell ourselves that these thoughts are not valid and what we’re telling ourselves isnt true.

    xoxo <3

    • You’re right, Kelsey. Others probably don’t care or notice, it’s all about what we tell ourselves. I think blogging is a great outlet, but I also think it can make us very hyper-aware of our habits, which can lead to these kinds of thoughts.

      Balance and a healthy internal dialogue are what I want to achieve!

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  1. [...] my friends and family, I all but forgot about the body issues that had been creeping up on me (see previous post.) It helped me relax a little knowing many of them had been hitting the keg, so any flaws I felt [...]

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