Heather Creekmore is a former contributor of Dallas Moms Blog, and we’re delighted to have her guest write for us upon the release of her new book! Affiliate Links may be included below.
If one more person tells me to just love my body, I may throw something. It’s not that simple! Those of us who daily battle with the scale, skin issues, or sagginess can’t just flip a switch and decide that stretch marks are hot.
Neither is it a reasonable request to ask someone in the throes of an eating disorder to just “decide” she doesn’t need to look any different.
Now, I loved that “IMomSoHard” swimsuit video as much as you did. It made me laugh. (Apparently, it made about 18 million other women laugh too.) What mom can’t relate to the boondoggle that is women’s bathing attire? It’s ridiculous. We’re supposed to crank out babies and then wear lycra that looks like it’s been cut-out by toddlers? Yeah, that’s a great idea.
But, in some ways, it still left me hanging. Where’s the answer for the woman who dreads swimsuit season? Is there a way to not feel overly self-conscious year-round?
Just decided I’m okay? How does one do that, exactly?
Just Love Your Selfie?
My struggle with body image spans decades. Over that time, I’ve tried everything popular culture had to give.
To help me pep up, celebrities and pop culture leaders offered what seemed like encouraging support. I bought it. In fact, most of the women I know subscribed to these answers, too.
Cameron Diaz got on TV and told me that once I discovered that my cells need carrots more than cookies, I’d find new healing. (Sorry, that fact was not mind-blowing enough to solve this girl’s body challenges. Cookies taste better. Maybe I had “special” cells?)
Others said just write a list. Write which of your body parts you like and focus on those. I tried it. It was an okay list.
My feet. (Well, sort of, but only when my toenails are painted.)
My smile. (I’ve heard I have a nice smile.)
My teeth. (The top ones at least. The bottoms need Invisalign.)
I added a few more minor parts to the list. But it wasn’t enough. The list resembled a bridesmaid’s dress I once tried on. I came out of the dressing room feeling like this taffeta purple mermaid gown looked okay on me only to hear the bride say that the dress did not “distract enough attention away from my problem areas.”
Figuring out what I liked about my appearance did not make me forget all that I didn’t like.
The Today Show spent weeks convincing me (and their millions of viewers) to “Love Your Selfie.” I just needed to get happy with the real me I saw in pictures. Overanalyzing the size of my arms or squinting and staring at my photos from every angle to see if my chin was taking over more territory is so last decade. Now, double chins are hot. You love “whatever you got.”
Sorry, inspirational morning show crew. That didn’t work either.
Are These the Directions to Love-Myself-Land?
Everyone’s advice-mobile seemed to drive me to the same destination. I needed to love and admire myself more. Then, upon arriving in love-myself-land, I should remember that it didn’t really matter what I looked like on the outside because true beauty was on the inside.
What? Which is it? Do I convince myself that I’m hot, or do I convince myself that being hot doesn’t matter?
I watched the television show segment on loving me—just as I am. But then they’d cut to commercials that shouted Cover Girl would make me flawless, Weight Watchers would give me my “life” back, and Special K could help me look good in a bikini. (This, incidentally, would help me find an amazing amount of happiness at the beach. I’m quite convinced the woman in that bikini has never attempted to take four children to the beach. I digress.)
I read the magazine article on how my personality and spirit are what make me truly beautiful, but then flipped the page to see an airbrushed model showing me how to look great in this spring’s styles, followed by a list promising “Ten Ways to Have a Better Body.”
All these mixed messages confused me.
My heart is like a memory-foam mattress. Self-love pep talks would make an impression, but then quickly it would go back to its original form. I could hype myself up and feel great for a solid day or two. Then I’d grow weary and end up right back at the same place of struggle where I started.
If body image was a disease, I figured maybe I just had a stubborn case of it.
A New Way to Solve It
Fortunately, God led me off the course to love-myself-land and to a place that I never dreamt I could live. I’ll call it freedom.
I still have zero appreciation for cellulite and little tolerance for pimples, but my overall body stress level is fantastically lowered. It even takes me less time to get dressed in the mornings (when I’m forced to change out of my yoga pants, that is. . .) because I no longer leave a reject pile of clothes that didn’t make me look “good” enough.
I have joy, confidence, and a better outlook on life – not because I lost weight, got implants or fooled my brain into believing I’m as hot as Heidi Klum. Rather, I found a kind of freedom that seemed to surpass the cliches and trounce all those trite statements that never helped me anyway.
My secrets (and I do mean ALL my secrets—even the super embarrassing ones) are captured in my new book called “Compared to Who?” I hope you’ll check it out soon and experience summer in a newer, freer way than ever before. Strangers and friends are saying good things about it, and if this is your struggle perhaps it will help you too.
Order it on Amazon here. Or, visit your local Dallas area Lifeway store. Find the book featured there between now until July 31st!
**Portions of this post are excerpted from Compared to Who: A Proven Path to Improve Your Body Image by Heather Creekmore (Leafwood Publishers, 2017). All rights reserved.