Body image is a weird thing.
I mean, on any given day, I can look in the mirror and think "Wow, I'm lookin' pretty good!", "OMG when did I get so wide?" and "Um, well, maybe if I wore the right shirt...". All within the space of hours. And it doesn't seem to bear any significant relation to how I feel, or what I ate, or how much time I put in on the treadmill.
Maybe it's the lighting?
We all put considerable mental effort towards worrying about how we appear to other people. Yet we have little to no control over their impressions. Sure, clean and well-cut clothing is always more favorable than the comfy XXL university sweatshirt that the dog has been sleeping on. And it might do you well to not look like you just rolled out of a ditch. But if someone is going to fixate on your saddlebags, and decide you're a slovenly mess based on THAT, then that's what they're going to do, no matter how much you invest in Spanx.
But they're equally likely to notice your sea-green eyes, or your radiant skin. Or, ohIdon'tknow, your fabulous personality.
And they're even more likely to not notice you at all, because they're busy worrying about what people think THEY look like.
I recently came across this set of photographs on JPG. It's a clever, though possibly heavy-handed, series of posed photos showing Disney Princesses and how they might have ended up in a more realistic scenario. I have a huge problem with the "princessification" of our female youth, so I think they're funny.
But I found it really interesting that while all the photos got some comments and reaction, the one that caused the most kerfuffle was the one showing Red Riding Hood as a fatty, walking through the woods slugging back a soda and carrying a basket of french fries. Aside from the fact that Riding Hood isn't actually a princess, the original fairy tale was a moral lesson about making poor choices - an unaccompanied girl walking through the woods alone and talking to strangers. Making the artistic interpretation that she would choose to overindulge in all the food she was carrying for Grandma isn't a huge leap.
But the comments section is awash with outrage over the portrayal, that it's perpetuating the "stereotype" that junk food makes you fat, that it's all a big conspiracy and we're genetically predisposed to be skinny or chubby and there isn't fuck all we can do about it.
And yes, genetics does have something to do with it and yes, a good art piece does indeed spark reactions both good and bad. But all the time you wasted defending WHY you're overweight or unhealthy? You could have: played with your kids. Gone for a walk. Watched a sunset. Volunteered at a soup kitchen. Learned an instrument. Helped your neighbour move a fridge. Hugged your dog.
So all of this is just a lengthy way of saying I'm still ignoring the number on the scale (though I know what it is) and trying to focus on what this body of mine can do, not what it isn't. I have days that I lose sight of that, but most days I know: I can lift my son to the ceiling 4 times without worrying I will drop him. I can do 50 crunches before I feel like puking. I can carry my own groceries. I can run for 2.8 km without stopping (18 mins on the treadmill).
And I'm okay with all of that.
Gonna go have that cupcake now.