Friday, May 1, 2015

A New Shame

 Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own
1 Corinthians 6:19

This body was given as a gift.

How many of us would like to see the exchange line on THAT one?

There's a old/new fad coming around. I say old/new because it's the same old thing wrapped in a new media package. Just look up the hashtag #bodyshaming on Twitter. It'd be enough to make you put the Cheetos down permanently. If you've ever watched the show My 600lb Life, and tried to follow it on Twitter, the results are pretty brutal also. Obesity, it seems, is the last holdout of discrimination. While it is totally unacceptable to make fun of someone's race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, or religious belief, it's somehow perfectly acceptable to make horrific metabolic judgments on someone you don't know.

But let me tell you something right now. There is no body shaming that anyone could ever do to us, as women, as the kind that we do to ourselves. None.
No one is worse of an enemy than we are.

Now, I need to clarify several things before we go on here. Seven years ago, I was leaving rehab after a three-month treatment for an eating disorder. So, on some very real level, I get this. I also grew up with a mother who was morbidly obese the entire time I knew her. So, on some very real level, I get this. I've spent my life as a dancer, and also spent a significant amount of time as dance teacher, and understand that body image is a very, very real thing. So, on a very real level, I get it.

Being pregnant, and now well into my last trimester, I literally hear the most random things from strangers ever. It's like, the second you grow a human, people want to walk up to you, rub your belly, and ask you questions. You hear it all from, "Wow, you're about ready to pop" to "Was this a planned pregnancy?" to "Well, at least your other kid won't be so spoiled." Yeah, thank you. The day that I heard several "wow, you're just coming right along" comments, I had just come into the third trimester. I checked the mail that day, and for some reason, I got an issue of Shape Magazine. I don't have a subscription to that magazine. But the taglines made me laugh out loud.

Rock those Abs.

A Firmer Belly in 21 Days.

Yeah. I'll get right on that.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever convince me that at least part of most days, we don't all wish we were a little... different than we are. Taller, shorter, thinner, more muscular, straighter hair, curlier hair, longer hair, darker skin, lighter skin, less body hair, different color of eyes, smaller ears, bigger lips, smaller hips, different ears, the list could go on for days... and days...

And we can rip ourselves to shreds in seconds. The body-shaming movement didn't start on Twitter; it started in the bathroom when you got up this morning.

And, honestly, whatever excuse you have for hating yourself, someone will back you up on it if you let them. Diet products, supplements, and programs are only increasing. In a time where food is the most plentiful, we are obsessed with eating less. At a time where cultural diversity and awareness is supposed to be celebrated, it seems we are more obsessed with beauty in specific forms. Specifically, whatever form someone isn't. Whatever they are, isn't enough.

This has nothing to do with body shaming. It has no more to do with being thin than an eating disorder has with food. It's about control. It's about feeling clean, feeling worthy, and feeling in control. Any addict of any substance will tell you it wasn't always what they were drawn to; it was what they were running from. Something wasn't enough. We weren't enough.

It seems like moms have a whole different system for body-shaming. More specifically childbirth, breastfeeding, and baby-weight. More specifically, natural/csection/epidural, whether you are or not, and how much. Like the growing of a human or the choosing to love someone and adopting a child isn't miraculous enough. Like the patience required to deal with outbursts, 2am feedings, and separation anxieties of childhood aren't enough. Like the constant feeding, clothing, and providing for a child isn't enough.


It's enough. You are enough.

A friend of mine admits she had to say that to herself enough times a day that it became a whole conversation. And she's amazing; two beautiful children, a master's degree, a loving husband, and a business! She's beautiful - inside and out. Honestly, I just figured that she was designing stuff to make the rest of us  me feel better about my pathetic life.. But, alas... no. Even as she always looks gorgeous and responds with the grace I don't think I'll ever have, she's a mom. Just like the rest of us moms; who struggle and doubt and talk to ourselves when no one's looking. Yes, I totally gave her a shamless plug. Deal with that.

Moms.... I love each and every one of you, but here's the deal:

We have to stop body-shaming ourselves. We have to stop life-shaming ourselves. We have to stop mom-shaming ourselves. We have to stop that before we can ever hope to stop shaming each other. Just like we learn that it's ok to have different skin, life preferences, or be a different gender, we have to learn that we can Mom differently, and still be the Mom we need to our kids.

Stop the shaming. Drink coffee, instead. That way we can all do stupid things together with more energy.

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