Flabby Thighs and Flappable Confidence

I’m not fat.
Really, I’m not. At 5′ 6” and about 134 pounds (yes, I just told the Internet my weight), I’m pretty much average. I’m not tiny, but my doctor says I’m pretty healthy and my husband says I’m pretty sexy, so I should be pleased.
I’m not fat.
But still… when I look in the mirror, I see a fat chick. 
It’s not my fault.
When I was like 14? I walked into a room just as Pamela Anderson was making a mad dash down the beach on Baywatch (For those who don’t know, Baywatch was a 90’s TV show where hot people rescued ugly people from the ocean or something). As she ran through the sand – hair whipping, bronze flesh glimmering in the sun – a man in the room hissed, “That girl needs to tone up if she’s gonna run in a skimpy bathing suit.” His voice was dripping with disgust.
Pamela Anderson, you guys. Pamela Anderson needed to “tone up”.
If Pamela freaking Anderson was a flabby cow in 1990, what was I to make of my own newly rounded hips and curving thighs; my freshly minted female form? If I ran on the beach, would the flapping of my soft arms and jiggling of my spongy butt make men of all ages throw up in their mouths?
Was I… gross?
All I knew was that I was no Pamela Anderson, and if she needed to “tone up”? Then I needed a Fairy God Mother and a Genie to fall in love and have a baby because it would take a Fairy God Genie to make me beautiful.
And so began the battle that rages within me still; A war between genuine health and perceived beauty. Which, for the most part, has been a losing battle.
It’s funny, because I’m a pretty confident person. I don’t get intimidated easily. I’m not scared of people who are smarter, richer, or more powerful than I am. I’m not afraid to speak up because there aren’t very many people who make me feel insignificant. But I can crush my own spirit to a fine powder by comparing myself to other women. I can kill my own confidence in a heartbeat by coveting the smooth legs and tiny ankles of the girl next to me. I can convince myself of my own low worth in the blink of an eye, especially if that eye happens to fall on the perky boobs and glowing skin of that beeyatch I always see running so fast at the corner of Blue Ravine and East Bidwell. (I mean, seriously Lady? Why can’t you go home and run slowly on a treadmill in the dark while you sip a frappuccino with whip like the rest of us?!) It’s that easy for me to tear down what God has built up. I swear, the most dangerous place in the world for my body is my mind.
If self-loathing were an art form, I would be the Grand Master. Truly, I can tell you something ugly about every last inch of me … But I won’t. Not any more. At least, I’ll try not to.
I’ve been listening to myself, lately, and I’ve been listening to the women around me. I’ve been watching this awkward balancing act we all seem so caught up in; carefully walking the tightrope between announcing our every last flaw, while simultaneously pretending not to care. (Why do we do that?)
This last year, I hit my highest weight ever, barring pregnancy. I hated what I saw in the mirror, but the horrible things I said to/about myself were, in all honesty, no different than the things I said to myself at my lowest weight ever – when my spine poked through my flesh like a dragon and clothes hung off my shoulders like wire a hanger. I know, I know…. Pamela Anderson, eat your heart out.
Now I have some kind of skin condition on my face that leaves white spots, kind of like scars, on my jaw and cheeks. It sucks. And there’s nothing you can do about it. But a few months ago, when I was mad googling in hopes of a solution, I came across a pic of Victoria Beckham with the same thing going on. Later, talking to El Chupacabra about it, I was like, “There’s no fix! I will be hideous forever… just like Victoria Beckham.” …*blink blink*…
What a shame, right?
Then I got super chapped lips. They were so cracked and puffy, and when I was, again, complaining to El Chupacabra, I blurted out, “Ugh! My lips are so busted… I look like Angelina Jolie.”
Awww. Poor me.
My teeth are a wonky, like Kirsten Dunst.
My legs are built like stubby tree trunks. Feel me, Olivia Wilde?
My weight is untamable. I’m practically Tyra Banks/Jessica Simpson/Oprah Winfrey/Mariah Carey.
How will I ever survive in this lonely wilderness?!
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
And I believe he was right. I’ve spent too many hours comparing myself to a false sense of perfection. I’ve wasted too many days wishing I were someone I’m not. I’ve lost too many moments standing back to back against the women (both real and imagined) I thought were built better than me.
But when I stop comparing and start keeping company, I quickly find that not one of us is near perfect – and none of us is far from it. It just depends on how you look at it. If even the most elite beauties of our culture come in all shapes, colors, and (bra) sizes, then don’t you and I also get to hold a place of physical beauty among women? Are we not favored, too?
I don’t think God wants me to hate my container – or anybody else’s, for that matter – and I don’t think He wants me to love it too much. It is, after all, just the wrapping paper for the gift that lies inside. But I believe God wants me to be gentle with myself. He wants me to be kind. He wants me to respect His miraculous creation.
And I haven’t been doing any of that.
Comparison stole my Joy. And now I’m taking it back.
I’ve found myself in such good company, it’s almost easy… 
…       …..       …
Whose beautiful company do you keep?

Got a booty like Jennifer Lopez? Racked like a Kardashian? Round like Rebel Wilson? Stick skinny ala Kiera Knightly? Horse teeth like a Hathaway? All beautiful…

… just like YOU. 


1 Comment

  1. Cindy on December 28, 2019 at 3:08 am

    This is an old post, but I’m currently devouring your writing. I just read your book and have been absorbing women I just discovered like Jen Hatmaker, Sarah Bessey, you….. I’m 58. I came late to the party.

    Anyway, I just want to tell you how beautiful I find you to be. I know it’s the whole point of this post not to compare or worry about our physical beauty. But, I swear, every time I see a picture of you I am blown away by how beautiful you are. I just wanted to say that. You are a classic beauty, in my eyes., Great bone structure.

    This is getting weird. I’m not an oddball. I’ve been considered attractive my whole life, from about 15 on. Before that (before braces and my skin condition cleared up….) not-so-much. I guess at this point I’m grateful to be healthy and relatively intelligent, to have been born with gifts and privilege I did not earn. I’m trying to use myself in ways God would be pleased. The hardships I’ve experienced made me a better person. Being pretty most of my life was a bonus, I can’t obsess over not having a smaller waist, a flatter stomach or (now) firmer skin…. it is what it is, and it’s a better hand than a lot of people have been dealt. The gift of age, I suppose….

    I appreciate beauty of all kinds. And, I’ve always looked at you and been struck by your beauty, every time Zi see a picture of you. Enjoy. : )

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