A Real Woman : Jessica 

Last year I did a project where I had women send in photos of themselves along with a “flaw” they had, in hopes it would help them overcome what society has carved out and deemed the perfect body. The results: empowered women, readers that found peace and solace, and a whole lot of comradery. Unfortunately, since I purchased a new domaine this year, my old website wasn’t able to be salvaged. But, I have a really endearing and inspirational piece I want to share with you now.

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As I meander through adulthood and womanhood, it’s no doubt more complex and challenging than I was ever prepared for. I went through a phase where I lost myself in a scramble to wash away everything society and media expected of me in order to grow and become who I knew I wanted to be. The pressure becomes almost suffocating today. At times I still feel stuck between who I am and who I am expected to be; as time passes though, I allow myself to be more entitled to my being and less worried about what << insert judgemental/negative person >> thinks of me. It is liberating as fuck. 

A couple weeks ago I posted on Instagram, asking women if they would, again, share obstacles they want to overcome; their experiences. Through the submissions, one woman poured her heart out and I connected with her vulnerability and heart.  

Jessica sent me an email sharing her struggle with weight gain, going through foot surgeries, and the unconditional love that fuels her.

…And my wife twisted her lips up in a sly grin, looking at my mouth and pushing a stray hair aside while I talked, in the way only a person still fully in love would do.

I think we can all relate to the unconditional love the ones we keep close so willingly show us, but we find it difficult to allow ourselves the same love for ourselves. In this very raw interview, Jessica shares her thoughts on self love, motherhood, and the meaning of health. 

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What do you know now that you would you tell your younger self?

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Younger self…dude, you need to relax a little. The world is so much bigger and better than high school. And please, for the love of all that is holy, start loving your body and taking care of your body now. Don’t wait until you’re in college. Don’t wait until your scale shocks you into submission. Don’t wait until some random photo pops up and makes you instantly hate yourself. Love your body now. Feed it organic food and chocolate ice cream now. Find balance. 

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What advice can you give a new mom about self-acceptance for a body positive perspective?

Stop for a minute.

Look at your child/children.

Think about the process of creating an entire living, breathing, other human being from a cluster of cells to birth. In. Your. Own. Body. 

Give yourself grace.

There’s no way we moms can go through that much work and come out on the other end of the maze the exact same.

You’re a beast.

And beasts don’t self-doubt.

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What has been the hardest thing for you to overcome with this journey?

The hardest part of this journey so far has been to not allow the new shape of this body determine my self-worth or my own perceived idea of anyone else’s opinion of my worth. I have to stop internalizing everything. If my wife wasn’t the picture taker before, and she isn’t now, it doesn’t mean she suddenly doesn’t think I’m beautiful. The absolute hardest part is getting out of my own head. 

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How can you overcome this/what is your plan of action to tackle?

Every time I say something negative about myself around or to my wife, she says, “stop talking about my wife like that.” It’s so easy to flippantly make commentary about the width of my hips or the jiggle on my arms or how things don’t look good on me anymore. But I do my best to think as highly of myself as she does. I have to be cognizant of the constant peanut gallery contradicting the truth. It’s a brain game. And aside from just working out and eating healthy, if we don’t have positive self-images of ourselves, if we don’t work to fully believe how amazing we are like everyone else does, then we’re just wasting our time because no matter how hard we work, it’ll never be good enough. 

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Describe what health is to you.

Health to me is making tiny steps daily to improve or continue your physical and emotional health.

Did you get up and walk at work when you could have stayed at your desk all day? Then you’re working toward a healthy life. Did you look in the mirror and say, “damn, I look good!” or “well, I might not like what I see every day, but it sure is a great body and I’m proud of it” or “keep rockin’ rockstar”? Then you’re working toward a healthy mind. Do you eat and move authentically and with purpose? Then you’re being healthy. Health is in an ever improving, ever moving target, with the constant goal of living life as fully and well as possible. A friend of mine says “this body this day.” That is health, to me.

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What is the single most important thing you’ve learned about self love?

I only have this one life. And this one body. If I don’t feed it well, stretch it, speak kindly to it, indulge occasionally, and water it, it will surely wither away fast than I can blink. 

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As women I believe we are trained from a young age to believe beauty looks a certain way. Acceptance and unconditional self love are difficult to come by for this reason. When we imagine our children going through this painful cycle, we innately want to stop it. The question I used to ask myself: How can you provide a safe but encouraging environment for your daughters if you don’t even love yourself? 

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Can you relate to this? If so how has it effected the way you will parent, and how you view yourself? Please elaborate, would love to know your view on this subject.

Yes. Yes a thousand times. When we were waiting to find out the sex of our baby, though I desperately wanted a girl, I was terrified I’d have one and not be able to model a positive version of self-love, terrified that I’d perpetuate the cycle of poor body image. Though boys aren’t *as* affected by all of this, I decided I would still make a purposeful choice to wear the swimsuit, be in the picture (this one is so hard for me right now), and remove any kinds of negative self-speak from my vocabulary. My goal, as my son grows, is to teach him that everybody and every body is unique, special, and worthy. I hope to teach him to respect himself and others through affirmations and boundaries. I will work to practice what I preach.  

Right now, this is a daily struggle, but practice makes perfect. 

And hopefully, by the time he knows what’s going on, he’ll have at least one momma who isn’t afraid to take up space.


At the end of Jessica’s email, I noticed her signature at the bottom which included a quote by Bill Bowerman which read, The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race; it’s to test the limits of the human heart.



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