So it’s a couple weeks into January now, and maybe you’re going strong on your weight loss resolution and patting yourself on the back. You’re a great person because you are becoming skinny. Or maybe you’ve already messed up a couple times and you’re frustrated with yourself. You’re pretty crummy. Wait, what? No, that’s ridiculous.
You guys, the number one request I hear as a photographer is, “Can you make me look skinny?” I almost never hear requests like, “Can you really focus on the special bond my daughter and I share?” Or, “Can you try to show how much our family loves to makes each other laugh?” It feels like, when it comes down to it, the thing we value most when we’re preserving memories is that we don’t look fat. It’s so sad. I just can’t even.
While I’m on my soapbox, I also find it really sad the extent to which glorify being skinny. I’m not just talking about generically as a society with our photoshopped magazine covers and anorexic runway models. I mean individually. As women. In the way we talk and act.
I see it play out all the time. A fun, sweet, interesting friend talks all the time about her passion for missions and feeding the hungry and meets you for coffee to see how you’re doing. Then she decides to lose weight and it becomes her obsession. She can’t meet you for coffee because it’s practically evil to drink your calories like that. Every post on facebook is now about going to the gym or eating her special diet food.
And do you know almost everyone responds? Wow!!! You look awesome! I am soo proud of you! You’re an inspiration! We’ll even tell others, “Look, Jane lost fifty pounds, isn’t she an inspiration?” Guys…really, that’s what inspires us? We’re not quite sure if she still cares about the school kids that go hungry on the weekends, that passion never inspired us, but we want to lose weight just like she did. Maybe we even ask her how she did it and we try to do the same. We start obsessing over it. All day our thoughts are occupied by counting our calories and making sure we never miss a morning at the gym. The goal we strive for most is no longer trying to put together a fund raiser for an organization helping rescue girls from trafficking, it’s going down 2 dress sizes and buying ourselves a new wardrobe.
Let me take a step back before I hurt a few of my dear friends. I see you, too. Quietly working to become more healthy or reach a personal weight loss girl, but it hasn’t become your entire identity. Or you feel so much better about yourself now that you lost weight that you just have to shout it from the rooftops. I think it’s great that you’re happy. I’m so thrilled for you. I hope everyone around you cheers you on. I think as women we should always cheer each other on! If any post of mine comes across as bashing other women, I have failed as a blogger.
I just wish there wasn’t such a pervasive feeling that if you’re not skinny, you’re ugly. That in order to feel happy with yourself you have to lose weight. I HATE THIS! I hate it so much, you guys.
From the moment my first daughter was born I knew I wanted to make sure I never, ever, ever fat shamed around her. I vowed to never talk about dieting or weight loss or hating my body. Fat became worse than a curse word to me. It is the one word that I must never let my three precious girls hear come out of my mouth. This article going around Facebook right now is so perfect! It starts out:
“How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: Don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.”
I realized last year that so far I’ve been successful in raising daughters who don’t have the word fat in their vocabulary. I know my oldest is only seven right now, so we still have a long journey ahead.
I’m not skinny. I look at myself, and it’s the first thing I notice. But I try to look beyond it. To not let it be the sole measuring stick I hold up to myself. And honestly, yes, this year I’m going to try to be a little more conscious about eating more fruits and vegetables, and taking long walks with my girls, and dancing with them, and being active, and maybe I’ll lose weight. I’ve been 110 lbs and hated my body, though. I’ve worn size 2 pants and felt like I was still too fat. I know that weight loss is not the secret to happiness.
But you guys, my daughters, when they look at me, they see a beautiful woman! They tell me all the time that I am beautiful. And they say what they really think. For better or worse they haven’t reached the age of polite, but insincere, compliments. And maybe according to some studies I’m not supposed to, but I tell them they’re beautiful, too. And I always will.
Last fall, Artist and I went out and took pictures together. It was so much fun. We photographed trees and the sky and each other. She took a picture of me and showed it to me, saying, “You look so beautiful, Mom!”
To to be honest, my gut reaction was, “I look fat.”
All too often, that’s the kind of stuff we say about ourselves, isn’t it? “I hate that picture of myself, I look so fat.”
Thank goodness that’s not what I said, though. I told her, “Thank you! And you did a great job of taking it. Let me take your picture now.” And I did. And I told her she’s beautiful. Then we took a picture together. And we looked at it, and she declared, “We both look so beautiful!” And looking through her eyes I was able to honestly respond, “Yes, we sure do!