Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Body Image ~ What It Means In the World of Parenting

What is body image? Wikipedia says: "Body image refers to a person's perception of the aesthetics and sexual attractiveness of their own body."  I say, it's much deeper than that. We blame the media for today's assumption of beauty.  Back in the day there was Marilyn Monroe and more recently, Tyra Banks, who have been replaced by much skinnier versions of beauty such as Kate Moss and Giselle Bundchen.  The depressing fact that America's view of perfection in a woman has been changed from a more round, curvy figure to that of a stick-thin-nearly non-existent being, is somewhat disgusting.  No offense, of course, to the women that are naturally thin and happy with it.  Quite honestly...wherever you are in life...if you are confident and happy with it; more power to you.  

So...where do we get so screwed up?  Society?  The Media?  Or is it much simpler than that? I think my childhood explains so much of what I now call-my "issues."  I've been told I'm an attractive person.  And I believe I am. Many of my physical attributes are desirable.  Big lips. Large, distinctive green eyes.  A smile that rarely goes unnoticed.  All that and a figure that would've been applauded back in those Marilyn Monroe days.  Yet I grew up on diets...on different fads and physique changing mentalities that have only further warped my already screwed-up sense of self.

I remember in seventh grade my skin started to break out.  Call it puberty, or whatever you like...but my skin had become zit-central.  Unfortunately, due to some not-so-great-genes...this trend continued beyond my period-starting and boob-growing days.  My mom immediately put me on birth control to rein in both the insane breakouts and the out-of-control periods I was facing.  Immediately, I went from an average seventh-grade body to a grown up, much-bustier and more well-rounded body.

My mother had faced criticism from her mother all her life.  So naturally, my mother also wanted me to be perfect.  She explained that hair was 80% of your looks, so I focused much time on curling or fussing with my hair; trying to get the most beautiful look.  I'll never forget the day she said, "Trina, your butt is looking big."  And to be honest, it was.  The birth control pills had kicked my hormones into overdrive; and my butt wasn't the only thing growing.  Don't completely blame it on my mom folks; nobody knew during those times the full affects of birth control.

In seventh grade, I went on my first diet.  The cabbage Soup diet was a big hit at the time, and my mother and I took it on like everyone else we knew.  From then on, I began my yo-yo with weight-control, and the love-hate relationship I had with my body.  The more I lost,the more control I had.  And I sure loved control.

There were some months I starved myself...and when low-carb came out?  A dream-come-true for the diet-addict!  I watched my weight deteriorate along with my health...and then bounce back up when I started eating normal again.
The main problem I have is wondering...honestly...would I have ever been overweight in the first place?  I mean, yes, maybe I gained a few pounds due to the circumstances, but would I have actually ever been fat?  Was there ever a true need to start dieting?

When I look in the mirror now, I see a strong, beautiful, curvy woman...most days.  I still feel the pull from those other days when I want to pinch my fat roll, throw away the bread and swear off carbs.  It's okay that I'm fucked up.  I mean...honestly...I can handle that.  I can control it.  

What I can't handle is thinking that my four-year-old is going to have the same, messed up thinking and lack of full-self confidence that I've battled my whole life.  So, in this, I make a promise to myself:  I promise to shut my mouth when I want to say un-positive things about my body image.  I promise to urge my daughter to be happy with herself, no matter how she looks or what she weighs.  I swear to inspire her to love her uniqueness...and focus on her strengths....and not so much what America considers her flaws.  I say...screw America and what it's portrayed as hot; because I'm thinking my much-rounder-than-popular ass is looking much more appealing.  And so is a confident body image.

I look to my friend Amber; a vision of confidence and perfection in herself.  She is no size zero; she is no "common" blonde beauty-yet she portrays what all of us woman desire: being secure in who we are, having confidence in what we were born with; and flaunting all we've got.  And with that oozes a gorgeousness no model could even attempt compete with.  Below is her version of how she is, well, the way she is.


Body Image- by a happy & confident woman
A gift was passed on to me as a girl.  A secret message whispered in code so complex that I could not understand it at the time or decode it until recently.  My mother failed at many things. It is only in the last 5 years have I begun to understand her message and come realize that many of my friends did not hear the same voice.

Growing up my mother was at ease with her body.  She never was shy or apologized for her shape when I saw her naked, or dressed for that matter.  She was who she was and that was enough.  She never commented on my body either.  When I was crying in my room as an adolescent, she never said  “But you are the most beautiful girl in the world…you are perfect…you are skinny…you are_____________.”  She simply said “You are who you are.  Be the best you can be.”  Simple. Clear.  Possible.

I became that woman.

At 27 I had a baby.  There are many things that will never be the same, and by newly “arranged” body is one of them.  I began to hear my friends comment on their changing shapes or flaws promising to “swear off carbs” and “start working out everyday” in a effort to rid their bodies of those imperfections.  I did not identify.  Sure, we all have flaws or things we wished were different about our bodies.   Especially post-baby!  I accepted that as a part of life.  I was never a version of “perfect.”  I did not expect that of them or myself either.  We  as moms were becoming something else.  We were growing into ourselves.  My body is not perfect.  I had never had that illusion.  Looking back…I could have been easier on myself.  There was a time when I was just short of awesome-and now there is a new amazing.

My body has given life to two awe-inspiring girls.  In that process, my stomach and breasts have taken a toll!  However, I would not trade them for my flat tummy and perky boobs.  I am amazing, and sexy, and really fun on a dance floor. I look great in a black shirt and a push up bra.  I am not the teenager or 20-something anymore.  I am MORE. I am who I am….and I think she is pretty great…flaws and all.  I have earned these imperfections on my journey.

There will always be someone prettier.  Skinnier. More toned.  You go girl, be your best self…and I will be mine.  Nothing is sexier than confidence; so own it!

~Amber (Trina's fabulous & trusted friend)

We hope in this article that we will inspire women to stop trying to become America's version of beauty; and instead, create and honor their own...  Trina & Leah