Mom Bod Shame: Its not about the mirror

Monday, August 14, 2017

My husband is a physical therapist. He loves improving the lives of his patients by working them hard with exercises, stretches, and other therapuetic techniques that bring relief and healing. It follows that he would believe that hard work and a little pain bring healing and happiness.

On that point, I agree. But he and I butt heads in this theory in one place - body image.

He holds strong to the belief that working hard at the gym will improve a person's outlook on their physical form. A healthy, strong physique is the path to contentment, he argues. I can see his point and what influences that opinion. I mean, this man hasn't missed a day at the gym in 7 years.

But what about me? I love being healthy too, but I certainly haven't found peace and content watching myself lift barbells in front of a mirror for an hour a day. My last post on mom bod shame highlighted the way the gym locker room really brings my self-conscious nature to the surface. I've been going to the gym regularly for over a year now, and I still struggle heavily with body shame.

In one of my recent counseling appointments, I talked about how OCD makes me believe that changing my environment will make me a better person (ie; cleaning my house makes me a good person). But I've learned that it is impossible to make a change from the outside in. 

I mean, think about it. If I was 50 pounds heavier, what would it change about me? My appearance and my health. But it wouldn't change the key things that make me unique. 50 pounds doesn't change my heart of joy. It doesn't change my friendly nature or my love to write. 50 pounds changes only the outside.

The same goes for losing weight. Or cutting hair. Or shaving. Or surgery. New clothes or makeup. Simply put - Outside never changes inside. The qualities that are intrinsically you do not change. More importantly, your inner landscape does not change either.

So if I am unhappy with myself at 117 pounds with a bit of mom bod belly, I am going to be the exact same at 117 pounds without. Outside doesn't change inside.

I am exploring some ideas to re-map my inner landscape. I want to explore the maiden-mother-crone dynamic that was introduced to me in the book, Spinning Straw Into Gold: What Fairytales Reveal About The Trasnformations In A Woman's Life. I want to read more about connecting with the divine feminine by checking out this book recommended to me by my friend Rachel. I want to dive into my own divine nature.

Last month I practiced being big. I wrote a slightly angry article about my kids being bullied in public and posted it - something I previously would not have felt comfortable doing. I received some dissenting feedback which was difficult for me to navigate but I faced it and came through shining. I have allowed myself to be more present working on my other creative, entrepreneur projects in home decor. I allowed myself to not be concerned with my crazy downstairs neighbors and keep living my life. I have learned to be comfortable taking up space.

Now I am ready to practice being vulnerable.

For me, that means:

  • being honest about my feelings instead of saying "I'm fine" or "That's ok."
  • being vocal about my needs and limits
  • stop apologizing for showing or having feelings
Like last time, I'll update on my progress. I just really wanted to check in and share about the idea that outside in doesn't work. 

The way your body looks in the mirror is not about the mirror or your body. Its about the eyes you're looking through.

© Channing B. Parker. Design by FCD.