Blogging While Pretty {& Happy}

My favorite “body image” blogger shared this post a few weeks ago, and today as I was sitting down to write a blog about my weekend, it resonated with me.

The message relates specifically to body image, how we as society use social networks to present a “perfect” image of ourselves, duplicating what the media does with it’s airbrushing and editing.

With Facebook and blogs, we are the producers, directors and editors. These are our own reality TV stations. This is where we create what the world sees. Every day, we watch media that makes us feel inadequate. Our stretch marks, wrinkles, curves and bumps don’t exist in media land, and so the fact that we have them makes us feel like there’s something wrong with us. So what do we do?

We edit ourselves for our own reality shows.

We only post photos on Facebook where we like how we look. Or we do our own photo shoots, edit the photos, then post them. We put the pretty photos on our blogs.

We participate in the media brainwashing of men, women, and children, and we do it without meaning to.

I love her message, especially related to body image, because I do exactly what she is talking about! Every time I think I look nice or have a new outfit and want to share a “selfie” I take about 20 photos in order to get that “perfect” photo where I look beautiful…and then I edit it with filters on Instagram lol.

But I think her message can be applied to other aspects of our life as well, and the desire to put on a perfect facade of what we think our life should be, the “ideal”.

I was thinking about that as I sat down to write about my weekend. I was going to post a blog about men, women and relationships. Something along the line of “men are from mars, women are from venus”. The reason being that Jeremy and I had a disagreement and after talking it out and hearing his side I was baffled by his reasoning for his actions, even though they made sense to me on some level. I thought my reasons made more sense (and I think most women would side with me as well), hence the “men are from mars” mentality.

I wasn’t going to share what we fought about or that I was pissed off at him for a few days before we finally talked it out. Why? Because I didn’t want to share that my marriage is less than “perfect”? Because then I would be a failure?

But if we all only show how perfect our relationships are, then are we teaching everyone who is watching us that there is something wrong with them if they fight with their spouse or have anything less than the “perfect” that they think everyone else has.

So there you have it.

I look fat in some photos. I have love handles and cellulite. I get mad at my husband sometimes. He can be a emotionless jerk.

But that doesn’t mean that I am not beautiful or that my marriage is not wonderful.

Can’t we be both? Can’t it be okay to share it all?

DCIM101GOPROThe end of our weekend at Mt. Soledad, after we had made up from our “fight”

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When Your Mother Says She Is Fat

I was literally in tears at the end of reading this, so beautifully written and powerful:

Dear Mum,

I was seven when I discovered that you were fat, ugly and horrible. Up until that point I had believed that you were beautiful – in every sense of the word. I remember flicking through old photo albums and staring at pictures of you standing on the deck of a boat. Your white strapless bathing suit looked so glamorous, just like a movie star. Whenever I had the chance I’d pull out that wondrous white bathing suit hidden in your bottom drawer and imagine a time when I’d be big enough to wear it; when I’d be like you.

But all of that changed when, one night, we were dressed up for a party and you said to me, ”Look at you, so thin, beautiful and lovely. And look at me, fat, ugly and horrible.”

At first I didn’t understand what you meant.

”You’re not fat,” I said earnestly and innocently, and you replied, ”Yes I am, darling. I’ve always been fat; even as a child.”

In the days that followed I had some painful revelations that have shaped my whole life. I learned that:

1. You must be fat because mothers don’t lie.
2. Fat is ugly and horrible.
3. When I grow up I’ll look like you and therefore I will be fat, ugly and horrible too.

Years later, I looked back on this conversation and the hundreds that followed and cursed you for feeling so unattractive, insecure and unworthy. Because, as my first and most influential role model, you taught me to believe the same thing about myself.

With every grimace at your reflection in the mirror, every new wonder diet that was going to change your life, and every guilty spoon of ”Oh-I-really-shouldn’t”, I learned that women must be thin to be valid and worthy. Girls must go without because their greatest contribution to the world is their physical beauty.

Just like you, I have spent my whole life feeling fat. When did fat become a feeling anyway? And because I believed I was fat, I knew I was no good.

But now that I am older, and a mother myself, I know that blaming you for my body hatred is unhelpful and unfair. I now understand that you too are a product of a long and rich lineage of women who were taught to loathe themselves.

Look at the example Nanna set for you. Despite being what could only be described as famine-victim chic, she dieted every day of her life until the day she died at 79 years of age. She used to put on make-up to walk to the letterbox for fear that somebody might see her unpainted face.

I remember her ”compassionate” response when you announced that Dad had left you for another woman. Her first comment was, ”I don’t understand why he’d leave you. You look after yourself, you wear lipstick. You’re overweight – but not that much.”

Before Dad left, he provided no balm for your body-image torment either.

”Jesus, Jan,” I overheard him say to you. ”It’s not that hard. Energy in versus energy out. If you want to lose weight you just have to eat less.”

That night at dinner I watched you implement Dad’s ”Energy In, Energy Out: Jesus, Jan, Just Eat Less” weight-loss cure. You served up chow mein for dinner. (Remember how in 1980s Australian suburbia, a combination of mince, cabbage, and soy sauce was considered the height of exotic gourmet?) Everyone else’s food was on a dinner plate except yours. You served your chow mein on a tiny bread-and-butter plate.

As you sat in front of that pathetic scoop of mince, silent tears streamed down your face. I said nothing. Not even when your shoulders started heaving from your distress. We all ate our dinner in silence. Nobody comforted you. Nobody told you to stop being ridiculous and get a proper plate. Nobody told you that you were already loved and already good enough. Your achievements and your worth – as a teacher of children with special needs and a devoted mother of three of your own – paled into insignificance when compared with the centimetres you couldn’t lose from your waist.

It broke my heart to witness your despair and I’m sorry that I didn’t rush to your defence. I’d already learned that it was your fault that you were fat. I’d even heard Dad describe losing weight as a ”simple” process – yet one that you still couldn’t come to grips with. The lesson: you didn’t deserve any food and you certainly didn’t deserve any sympathy.

But I was wrong, Mum. Now I understand what it’s like to grow up in a society that tells women that their beauty matters most, and at the same time defines a standard of beauty that is perpetually out of our reach. I also know the pain of internalising these messages. We have become our own jailors and we inflict our own punishments for failing to measure up. No one is crueller to us than we are to ourselves.

But this madness has to stop, Mum. It stops with you, it stops with me and it stops now. We deserve better – better than to have our days brought to ruin by bad body thoughts, wishing we were otherwise.

And it’s not just about you and me any more. It’s also about Violet. Your granddaughter is only 3 and I do not want body hatred to take root inside her and strangle her happiness, her confidence and her potential. I don’t want Violet to believe that her beauty is her most important asset; that it will define her worth in the world. When Violet looks to us to learn how to be a woman, we need to be the best role models we can. We need to show her with our words and our actions that women are good enough just the way they are. And for her to believe us, we need to believe it ourselves.

The older we get, the more loved ones we lose to accidents and illness. Their passing is always tragic and far too soon. I sometimes think about what these friends – and the people who love them – wouldn’t give for more time in a body that was healthy. A body that would allow them to live just a little longer. The size of that body’s thighs or the lines on its face wouldn’t matter. It would be alive and therefore it would be perfect.

Your body is perfect too. It allows you to disarm a room with your smile and infect everyone with your laugh. It gives you arms to wrap around Violet and squeeze her until she giggles. Every moment we spend worrying about our physical ”flaws” is a moment wasted, a precious slice of life that we will never get back.

Let us honour and respect our bodies for what they do instead of despising them for how they appear. Focus on living healthy and active lives, let our weight fall where it may, and consign our body hatred in the past where it belongs. When I looked at that photo of you in the white bathing suit all those years ago, my innocent young eyes saw the truth. I saw unconditional love, beauty and wisdom. I saw my Mum.

Love, Kasey xx

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Up (and Down) – Body Image

This weeks photo challenge was UP

So today while I was lying by the pool enjoying the 80* San Diego weather, I took this photo.

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Then I flipped my camera around and took a “down” photo. This is the photo that I want to talk about.

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For as long as I can remember I have wanted to lose weight. It has been on my mind since High School and continues today. I have never been significantly overweight or obese, but I have also never been “skinny”.

I have never felt comfortable being in a bikini, exposing my flaws the the world and comparing my body to the Victoria Secret models who advertise what my body “should” look like in a bikini.

I recently deleted all of the “fitspiration” facebook and Instagram pages I followed, because I found myself getting depressed by looking at them, rather than inspired. They would post the fruit they ate for lunch and I would feel like a fat cow for eating a bagel. Or they would post photos of the “ideal” body type, and I would find myself looking down at my own perfectly beautiful body and hating it for not looking like what it “ideally” should.

The only page I still follow is This is Not a Diet – it’s your life, because she has such a wonderful way of inspiring people to love their body and strive for being the healthiest version of themselves, not someone else’s version.

She posted a link to an article last week and I was incredibly moved by it. In fact, it was what prompted me to delete all the fitness pages I was following because I realized how negatively it was effecting my self esteem.

“At what point did we find it applaudable to look at pictures of other people and say “instead of looking like me, I want to look like her.” Why don’t we balk at the suggestion in the magazines to cut out those pictures and paste them to our refrigerators? Pictures to remind us that instead of feeding ourselves, we should be punishing ourselves. Instead of eating what we want when we’re hungry, we should instead be perpetuating a cycle of shame, guilt and jealousy. You are not enough as you are, is the message. Or rather, you are too much as you are. Don’t eat again. Have a glass of water. Take a diet pill. Maybe have some carrot sticks. Work out instead. You don’t want to be stuck in that body of yours forever, do you? Who will love you? Certainly not yourself, that’s for sure….

….So the next time you stand in front of a mirror and sneer at your less than flat abs or get angry with yourself for having enjoyed a dessert, ask yourself why. Why is perfection so important? What does it matter and who does it matter to?

I am a size 12 and I am healthy. I do not look like a Victoria Secret model, and I probably never will. My body is not perfect, but I am satisfied with it and my husband loves it. That is all that should matter.