I don't write personal blogs hardly ever on this account. If you know me, you know I am getting my Masters in Ministries Leadership so I have a blog (Preach2meLyndseyMarie on Tumblr) in which I mostly write VERY personal thoughts, confessions and ministries based topics. I typically keep my Makeup Artistry and Personal separate. However tonight I am compelled to combine the two. One of the most horrific things happened to me tonight and with a heavy heart it has me thinking this is a message for ALL women regardless of religious beliefs.
As most women can relate, after having my daughter my body has changed. For a few years after she was born I obsessively worked out admittingly for vanity reasons. I remember being pregnant and only gaining 22lb because I was UBER UBER healthy (again obsessively) and a nurse commenting "You're single right? Gotta bounce back after having the baby" implying that if I was overweight after giving birth I was doomed to be single forever. Which takes us to now. For the past year I have been pushing "against beauty conformity" to look a certain way, how a makeup artist should (which by the way there is HUGE pressure to look a certain way as a makeup artist oddly). I have been wearing minimal makeup (or a LOT of makeup whatever I feel like), wearing clothes that don't necessarily match but I wear them because they are what I like, and I am eating whatever I want to because "DANG GONE IT I CAN". Unfortunately my rebellious streak has led to weight gain that is affecting my health, but thats another topic. I have gained about 20-25lb in the past 4 months. I know what you are thinking, that's nothing....WELL on a woman who is 5 foot 2 inches on a good day, that's a lot to take on being that much overweight. HERE is where tonight comes in. As I was getting undressed my SIX year old daughter is watching me and starts laughing. I asked her what she is laughing so hard at...she says "Your fat thighs and butt are jiggling all around". I stopped and looked at her taken back. I said, "Lily Marie that is not nice," She kept going. I continued, "Lily please stop you are hurting my feelings"...the laughing continued. "Lily, seriously..." she kept laughing. In shock over how hurt I was, I quickly got dressed and left the room to cry my eyes out in the bathroom. A few moments later, my daughter was knocking on the door, "Mommy are you ok?" I dried my tears, walked her into the bedroom and talked to her being nice and acceptance and about feelings and blah blah....one of those "motherly lesson learned" kind of talks. Which resulted in her saying, "If you don't eat junk food you won't be fat" (again she didn't realize how mean it sounded} AND "No matter what size you are Mommy I will always love you". I was cut to the core by this situation. In all my naked vulnerability, my own baby was body shaming me. The point isn't that my daughter is some diabolical child out to crush me...the point is WHEN AND WHY does the BODY SHAMING start?!? WHY is a 6 year old not only recognizing the terms "FAT" and "SKINNY" but already recognizing the error in being one way over another. Most importantly HOW DO WE STOP THIS?! How do we stop creating Mean Girls?
I think one reason why we as women play the "Fat" or "Skinny" card is because of the lack of vocabulary and it starts at Lily's age. Lily is learning shapes. Before now she has known round to refer to all shapes with curvature and square to be all shapes with "sides" which included in her mind rectangles, boxes and even some pentagon or hexagons. Not because she is dumb but because her vocabulary is limited at this point. I think that's what happens with us....we lack the vocabulary of describing our bodies. In order to not check a box on our size we NEED more boxes on options or better yet no box options. Why the labels...if we live in a world where people don't even have to label their gender orientation any longer why is it necessary to check a box regarding physical size.
When I go to friends houses, I am so happy to share in my time with them that I don't notice if their house isn't perfect, I LOVE them and I am happy to be there. However MY HOUSE, I feel like needs to sparkle before anyone steps foot in. This is how we are with our body as well. Someone my exact build, I would say "You have a GREAT butt" but myself...I am like "Look at your big butt". The way we love others is how we need to love ourselves and vice versa depending on what your struggle is. Some may LOVE the way they look in the mirror and THOSE are the people that body shame others into "Being too fat or too skinny". Either way it goes, the judgement has to be replaced by love.
The CURSE of Social Media
wow, this is SO huge. Lets forget calling it Instagram and just call it "The place that makes your feel inadequate". Its been a HUGE learning curve for me in the past year to realize I am not 20 anymore, I am NOT going to be the makeup artist on IG that has 5 million followers and I am NOT going to have a waist and butt like Kim K any day soon. If I have to see one more person post a selfie in a mirror with their brows super filled in, lashes that are ridiculous with heavy contouring, blinding highlight with a matte lip, sharpened fingertip nails, a 20 inch waist with a 40 inch butt sticking out with their arm slightly lifted like they are holding an invisible trophy while looking seductively into the camera with lips parted to say "oh hey there I didn't see you looking at me" with a hashtag #onfleek I might LOOSE MY COOL. What the heck kind of message are we sending to our teens?! That the standard for a 19 year old is to look like Kyliee Jenner? Because that's possible right!? SOCIAL MEDIA IS SETTING OUR DAUGHTERS UP TO FAIL. It is all so over the top and creating unrealistic not to mention unattainable goals for our women in the world. We are a culture obsessed with perfection. WE HAVE TO CHANGE IT.
Adjust the Message
My daughters comment about "Not eating Junk Food" I wouldn't have minded if she said "Don't eat junk food or it will make you sick" meaning an unhealty heart, cholestorol, liver...whatever other health issues that come with obesity (many which I am dealing with now) but she said "You won't be fat." Why is THAT the message, don't do this or that not to be fat. How about the message be a focus on the positive aspects of health and not the negative aspects on the body image.
Do I have all the answers? Of course not but I am a problem solver. I don't look at a situation and cry over it or complain over it and call it a day. If there is a problem I want to solve it. Realistically, I know I am not going to stop all body image issues with the snap of my fingers but I can start to change how I feel about myself and the message I send to my daughter. So here are some things I think we can do to take ACTION on stopping the issues with body shaming.
1. Beauty Board - We all know the movie mean girls where they stand in a mirror with each other and point out their flaws. I am going to create a board with my daughter every week where DAILY for a week we look at a picture of a woman of all shapes, sizes, races, age and everything and pin it to the board. Everyday that week we will look at that picture and write two things on the board about that woman that we love. For example this picture below...We may say " I love this woman's warm smile, I love her talent, I love her soft hair, I love her beautiful skin tone, I love the bright colors she's wearing....everyday we will focus and find SOMETHING we love about the person."
2. Focus on Accomplishment and NOT physical appearance - There are SO many AMAZING women in our history and currently. I am going to pick a new woman every few weeks to focus on their amazing accomplishments and learn all about that person focusing on more than just how they look.
3. Health Focus - Maybe Lily and I need to talk more about health perspective. Now that I need to get healthy its a great time to encourage fitness for fun, eating healthy, and stress relief TOGETHER and not "working out" for my physical. I can engage my daughter on creating a healthy lifestyle to live a healthy happy life not to live for how you look in a baithing suit or for other people.
4. Emotional Education - We RUN from feelings because heavens lets not admit we have them. Physical health is just as important as emotional health so engaging in healthy emotional practices such as journal writing, meditating, and simply expanding our emotional vocabulary makes us more aware of ourselves and how we effect other people. Helping my daughter learn HEALTHY emotional expression is one of the best tools as a parent I think I can equip her with.
5. Unplug - I have really filtered what I look at on social media and for HOW LONG I look at it. I have gone through phases where I removed social media apps from my phone even. Its hard because I run marketing for my business on social media but at times, I just have to let it go and focus myself on posting positive messages for other people to see and ignoring the negative "me me me" stuff of other peoples.
6. Start with You - If we are going to stop body shaming other people we have to stop body shaming ourselves. Buy a full length mirror and with a dry erase marker write on it 3 affirmations about yourself and read them out loud every day for a month.
Like I said, I don't have all the answers. I do know this has to STOP. We owe it to all the women who fought to be more than just a pretty face behind the stove, we owe it to our future generation to change the objectivity and negativity and we owe it to ourselves to experience self acceptance and love. Most importantly we owe it to God to love his creation and honor our perfect imperfection.