Friday, May 24, 2013

Body Image

I've had the makings of this post rattling around in my head for a few first, it seemed harping and narcissistic, so I wasn't going to write it, but then I read some things in the last few days that made it impossible for me to ignore the urge to write it down.  For a few weeks, as I've been inching slowly closer to my goal weight of 128 (and I'd say 8 pounds is pretty darn close), I've had a nagging annoying voice in the back of my head telling me that although I've lost a good amount of weight, I haven't (and likely won't) accomplish my goal appearance.  When I started Challenge #2 back in January and set the ridiculous goal of losing 35 pounds, I had one target area on my body that I hoped the weight loss would address:  my baby-belly stomach (like a kangaroo pouch, but not nearly as cute).  I thought surely that 35 pounds would eliminate the paunchy overhang around my waist--where else would I lose that much weight?

Well, I'll tell you.  The first thing people started telling me after I started this process was that my face was getting thinner.  I didn't realize that my face had so much weight it could lose, but the difference must be striking--just last week, I was talking to Abby's dance teacher about recital costumes when she stopped, mid-sentence, and said, "My goodness--your face got skinny!"  Then she made a whistle noise and a shrinking motion with her hands, stammered a little trying to get back to our original conversation, and then said, "I'm sorry--I guess I just haven't seen you in a while!"  So, apparently I've lost some weight in my face...not a target area, but I'll take it.  Then, not to get too personal, but where I was once overflowing my shirts and undergarments, I'm now not overflowing...and may need a trip to Victoria's Secret to pick up the correct, smaller size when this is all over.  That wasn't a target area, either, although I've always wished to be smaller--so this weight loss was kind of a surprise bonus that I'm very happy about!  Then, when out to dinner with friends a few weeks ago, I was told that my hands look freakishly large now because my arms have gotten thinner--I hadn't noticed this at all, and in fact have spent a bit of time looking at my arms in the mirror since then, trying to figure out if they have gotten small enough to make my hands look like giant hands...a little disturbing since I've always thought I have small hands, but maybe I just had large arms all this time??  So, interesting--three areas of my body that have benefited from weight loss, but that I hadn't even considered when I thought about how my body would look at the end of this Challenge.

I won't lie--the stomach pouch has gotten smaller.  It's just still there, in all it's glory--very noticeably still there, and hard to hide under shirts, sticking out over the top of my pants the way it does.  I'm glad it's gotten smaller, but I'm coming to the realization that 8 more pounds aren't going to make it disappear as I had desperately hoped--in all likelihood, it will still be there, screaming at me when this Challenge is over.  I don't know if my post-baby belly is worse than other moms' bellies (because it's not really something we all go around sharing, but whatever--I have no pride left anymore!), but at every doctor appointment I've had since Alex was born, the doctor has asked about my c-section scar.  Yeah, I've never had a c-section--that "scar" is just the huge red horizontal line across my lower abdomen where my skin folds onto itself and the pouch hangs.  When I tell the doctor that I haven't ever had a c-section, I get a lot of surprise and backpedaling...which leads me to think that my pouch must be worse than yours.  Mine causes weird body markings, like when you've slept on a bunched-up pillow and end up with sleepy creases on your face that won't go away for a few hours--except this is worse because it never goes away, and when I lay down on the exam table and all my belly fat settles, I have a huge red line across my lower stomach.  Great.  I picked 128 pounds because the last time I weighed 128 pounds, I was in high school and in really good shape--so that's kind of what I had in mind for the end of this Challenge.  I totally neglected the fact that three children have been born of this body since then, and nothing will ever go back to the way it was when I was 15--no matter how much I weigh.

I happened to read about Zoe Saldana's weight being blasted all over the cover of a magazine last week--here's the cover in case you missed it:

I'm not even a big fan of Zoe Saldana (although she was really great in Crossroads with Brittney Spears...ha ha!!), but I found it interesting to learn that she weighs 115 pounds.  This is a girl who has never had a baby, though...and she's a famous actress, so her body is part of her craft and the scrutiny she must feel for her appearance would totally overwhelm me.  Plus, she probably has a chef and a trainer and tons of time to focus on herself!  When I saw that magazine cover, I wasn't annoyed by it--I was more just intrigued by it, considering that 115 pounds isn't all that far from my 128-pound goal...and yet, I'm so far from looking like her lithe little frame!

Then I saw this picture on Wednesday, and it is what has driven me to write this post:

Yep, that's Tori Spelling on the cover of US Weekly, randomly wearing a bikini and heels while two of her fully-clothed children hang out with her.  Tori Spelling, who has had four babies in rapid succession (one who is clearly still very young!) and a couple post-baby surgeries within the last few months that prevent her from doing any sort of stomach exercises for the next year, according to the accompanying article.  The article also mentions that Tori Spelling weighs 115 pounds--that must be the going celebrity female weight these days.  I don't know how tall Zoe and Tori are, but I can almost 100% guarantee that they are a few inches taller than me at 5'3".  115 seems awfully small for taller people--it seems like a low number even for me!  I know in my head that most celebrity pictures are air-brushed, but I also want to always believe the best in people--especially other moms.  I looked at this picture and my first thought was, "Wow!  You go, Tori Spelling--although it's totally odd that you're in a bikini in a field while your son is in long sleeves!"  And then, like a typical jealous girl, I studied the picture closer and thought, "Wait a minute...she can't do any ab work for a year, just had TWO babies back to back, and her ab muscles just look like that on their own?  I smell Photoshop..."  Granted, I think she still looks great without the painted-on 6-pack and all the other stuff they did to the photo before they printed it, but I also think that images like this set the bar way too high for most moms.  Some women are blessed with an ability to bounce back from their pregnancy body--others of us will be rocking the remnants of those babies until we stop rocking altogether.  I'm wrapping my head around the fact that I'm in that 2nd group, and even when I hit my goal weight, there will still be some things about my body that I don't love--but I'm healthy (and that is the ultimate goal!) and I love my babies who gave me this body (and would never trade those amazing pregnancies for washboard abs), and those are the things that matter...not some extra stomach pouch.

Yesterday morning on the way home from the bus stop, the boys and I stopped to chat with a sweet neighbor.  I hadn't seen her in a while (she just had a baby a few months ago), and while we were talking, she said, "You look great--like you've lost weight?"  I said yes, that I have been working on it, and she said, "You look like you shouldn't lose any more--your face is so skinny!"  I've been bothered by my baby belly and wishing it away, but since you won't ever see me out in a bikini, I'll take the thinner face any day.  :)

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