Friday, September 19, 2008

Body Image

I have been thinking of drafting a blog about this for a while...

You know, I think men have it a lot easier than us women. They don't get pregnant; they are spared the "joys" of morning sickness, constipation, hemmorhoids, "evil crotch pain," Braxton Hicks, yada, yada, yada... They don't go into labor and give birth - 'nuf said there. They don't get periods; no cramps, bleeding, and PMS. (Actually, I think, and its been scientifically proven, that men do have ebbs and flows in their testosterone levels that mimic PMS. And believe me, I know enough men, my husband being one of them, who definitely get "male PMS.") But I think socially-speaking, they have it much, much easier than women. Think about it. If a man has many sexual partners, "he's the man." If a woman does, she's labeled a slut. But here's the biggie - body image. Men can be balding and have a big ol' beer belly and nobody bats an eye. A woman gains 5 pounds, and everyone comments. If her boobs are too small, people make jokes, and if they are too big, people gawk. If she is wearing grungy jeans and an old t-shirt and not wearing make-up, she is looked at as frumpy or "homely." And our modern, American culture is definitely not helping.

If you look at art anywhere up to about the 1940's or 1950's, women have some meat on their bones. Being stick thin wasn't viewed as beautiful until about 50 or 60 years ago. And if you look at other countries, such as Fiji or Mexico, they don't like their women skinny - being larger is viewed as a status symbol because it means they are rich enough to afford to eat heartily. So historically and socially, if you look outside modern-day American (and European) culture, being stick thin is abnormal.

I'll admit, body image is something I am really struggling with right now. Now, I know, I know.... I just had a baby 8 1/2 weeks ago. I am back to pre-pregnancy weight and have been back in (most of) my pre-pregnancy clothes for about 2 weeks now (yay for breastfeeding!), BUT, this pregnancy warped my body more than the other 2. I have had a nice muffin top since after I had Joy, but now I have what I call "elephant belly." Between the stretch mark scars, the loose, flappy skin, and the maternal fat stores that my body doesn't seem to want to shed, my belly looks like that of a geriatric elephant. Its oh so sexy! I know I have abs in there somewhere, its just a matter of....where?

I try not to judge others, and try hard not to judge myself either, because I don't want that rubbing off on my daughters. I want my daughters to learn that who you are on the inside is what is important, that it is what makes you beautiful or not. And most days, I am okay with myself. Sure, the "elephant belly" could go, and that would be like winning the lottery. But let's face it, its not going to happen, so I have tried to embrace it, because I know if I lived in Fiji, or the 1700's, I would look pretty darn hot!

Its tough. I don't want this overly-prevalent modern obsession with being stick thin and unhealthy rubbing off on my daughters. I try not to show my insecurities around them because I believe modeling is the best teaching tool. And I hope and pray that they will look up to me and my attitude about body image more than the women on TV and in magazines, and learn that its okay to accept your physical flaws (although I will always think my girlies look amazing no matter what) and be proud of yourself. Because at the end of the day, THAT is what matters.

So yeah.... Being a woman in the post-Marilyn Monroe days is tough, and "having" to maintain modern body image status quo sucks big time!


Anonymous said...

I agree with this post. I think it must be hard to have girls and teach them that looks dont matter when everywhere in our society tells me differently. I have boys and I have to teach them to become men who dont want a woman based on how pretty she is or how big (or small, whatever their preference will be) boobs they have, etc. Its tough.

Sara said...

it is hard meg. when I was in high school, I was underweight, so underweight the drs had me on high calorie drinks, and foods. when I was dating mike I was 94 pounds, at 5'5". I was able to gain 10, and kept those until I got pregnant with Kevin. After he was born I kept 10 more, and thought I was huge at 114lbs. Ridiculous. After Cameron I kept 10 more, and cried about it. 124!
Now I am a healthy weight for my height, and I'm having a hard time dealing with it. I've grown up as the skinny one, and I cant get used to being healthy! and alot of that has to do with clothes that are only cute in size 0. all of the women on tv, in movies and magazines are a 0.
its tough even for an adult, I cant imagine what it must be like for a kids now. so sad.