Well, today is Day 8 of my “short” experiment. I think it’s officially the last day. When I started, I counted 9 pairs of shorts in my drawer, but I have since realized that one of my pairs of “shorts” is not shorts at all. They actually come to just below my knee. Does that make them clamdiggers? Whatever they are, they are not shorts, so they won’t be included in this series. They will continue their rotation in my wardrobe, because I actually kind of like them, but I won’t delude myself into believing they are shorts.
I have learned a lot about myself (and a lot about shorts) in the past week and half or so. I would like to believe I have a better handle on how the way I see myself differs from the way others see me. Just by taking and sharing a series of photographs of myself, I have learned that, when I look at a photograph, I might get a glimpse of what others see. It’s like, by snapping a photo, I can step outside of my brain, and view myself more objectively. And you know what? I look okay in shorts.
I have also learned a lot about how my kids perceive me, and how the things I say and do affect how they see themselves. I have been open about my struggle with eating disorders, and my self-esteem and body image issues. I have always been aware of the impact my attitudes and behaviors have on my children; and I have tried very hard to make sure that they know they are, each one of them, perfect, and gorgeous and important ~ that they are strong, and brilliant, and their potential is limitless. Hopefully, I am doing an okay job. At this point in time, they 17, 15 and 12 year old girls; and I think it is crucial that we keep the dialogue going about these issues. Body shaming is not allowed in our home ~ not toward others, and not toward ourselves. The girls are very good at this. It is I who still need work. I’ll throw out the odd, “Ugh, my legs look gross,” or “My neck is so skinny,” without even thinking about it. Then, someone says to one of them, “You’re just like your mom!” Oh. I see. I see why it is important now to talk myself down. Because they are like me, every one of them, in one way or another; and, when someone says, “You’re just like you’re mom,” they should know that it’s a compliment. They should know that I feel flattered that anyone thinks I am at all like them. They, for the record, are AWESOME.
It matters. Every word matters. Whether it is about how we look, or something else about ourselves, it matters. When we say, “I’m too skinny,” “I’m too fat” (or “My hair’s too frizzy,” “My thighs are flabby,” etc.) and mean “…and that makes me not good enough, or beautiful enough,” there’s someone listening who’s thinking, “Well, shoot. If she’s not good enough, what am I?” If my daughter is told her legs are just like mine, and she’s only ever heard me say negative things about them, what is she going to think of herself? I hope she will think, “Mama’s wrong. Her legs are great, and so are mine!”
Even if you don’t have kids, it matters what you say. It matters what you say to yourself. I read recently that smiling at your image in a mirror for just a few seconds a day (10 or 15 ~ I can’t remember. Do it for 15, just to be sure!) can completely change the way we see ourselves, bolstering our self-esteem and sense of self. How great is that?
When we were looking at pictures and talking about why I embarked on this particular journey, Hallie, who is 15 now, said, “Perspective is everything.” She explained how, sometimes, if she is looking down at herself, she might think, “My stomach sticks out way too much!” but then, when she looks at a photograph, she can see that it doesn’t. It just that, when you bend to look at yourself, your body changes shape. Like when I sit down, and my thighs spread, or, even as thin as I am, my belly pooches out ever so slightly. It’s normal, and the only reason people in magazines don’t have that thigh spread or belly pooch is because someone photoshopped it out of the final image. So, yes, perspective IS everything; but I think that’s true not just as it refers to the physical angle from which we view ourselves, but from where we are in our heads, as well. I am still trying to teach my brain to see my body as it really is. I don’t know if it will ever catch on, but at least, now, I have a more clear understanding of the fact that, sometimes, it doesn’t.
Well, I guess that’s all for now. I will come back and post pics of my “graduation outfit,” which I plan to wear sometime this weekend. Before I go, I will add these pictures.
Remember when I started this thing, and I talked about how I had put on shorts to go out with Shane and the kids, then decided I didn’t like the way my thighs looked, and gone back and changed into longer ones that covered my thighs? Well, I found some pictures from that day. These are the shorts I ended up wearing. Like the jeans shorts from yesterday, these are a length with which I feel okay. I still feel a little self-conscious about my knees (why? They’re knees. They look like knees), but I will wear shorts this length far more often than I will wear short shorts.
The funny thing is, when I look at these pictures, I think, “well, those aren’t really the most flattering pants, are they?” My mom has been following these posts, and she told me today that, after looking at all of these posts, she really thinks the shorter shorts look best on me. I think she might be right. I am still trying to make peace with that idea, and I do still like these shorts (I mean, come on ~ they have little skulls and crossbones embroidered all over them!), but the shorter shorts are, as hard as it is for me to say this, more flattering. Isn’t that weird? I never thought I would say that. But here, you be the judge.
These are the shorts I started to wear that day. I changed out of them then, and it was hard for me to commit to wearing them all day today; but I did, and, now, I think I like them. Well, I always liked them ~ I bought them because they have tiny flying seagulls all over them, and I love seagulls. If you don’t love seagulls, you should probably read Richard Bach’s “Jonathan Livingston Seagull.” Then, you will love at least one seagull ~ but now, I think I like them on me.
The lighting was kind of weird, but I decided it looked cool, and you can still see the shorts.
So, on that note, I will leave you with a quote from Jonathan Livingston Seagull, because it is on my mind:
“To fly as fast as thought, to anywhere that is, you must begin by knowing that you have already arrived.”