Last week, my daughter saw this US Weekly magazine cover in the grocery store. Her first reaction was to say, "That's inappropriate." I thought it was because it was a woman wearing a bikini - but I didn't want to assume. So I asked more detail, and the answer surprised me.
Note that the published magazine had an unflattering picture of pregnant Kim on the cover next to the bikini shot. It had her weight listed: 185 pounds. This is important given how my daughter interpreted the image.
She said, "It makes me feel like gaining weight is bad and I should be thinking about losing weight." My daughter is 7 years old. I asked if she was talking about gaining weight with pregnancy or just gaining weight in general, and she responded: "Both."
I must say that I was proud of my kiddo for being able to communicate this complex question at such a young age. Moreover, I think this is a dilemma for many women. As I have raised my daughter, the societal messages have become even more apparent. When I was a younger woman, before I had a daughter, I might have tossed those messages aside and negated their power. But as a parent, I have come to realize how early social norms about the female form begin to captivate our children - both boys and girls. There is a constant barrage of information suggesting that girls, teens and adult women must do something to change our bodies, as if we aren't acceptable exactly as we are.
Of course, this begs the question - what would happen if we were to allow our bodies to become what they are intended to be, instead of forcing them into any number of different ideas of what we think they should be? What would happen if we simply LOVED ourselves and DARED to call ourselves beautiful exactly as we are?
This is a BOLD question. It causes many to feel afraid, both men and women. Men experience fear that women will "let themselves go." Women experience fear of what would happen if they indulged in the question. In both models, however, we exist in a restrictive mindset based upon the notion that self LOVE and unconditional acceptance could be bad. Women wonder...Our partners might not like our bodies. Our health might deteriorate. We might not like the way we look when we let ourselves go. We might never get our body back to the way it was.
SO MUCH FEAR!
But what if we allowed ourselves to walk into the questions and the worry and the FEAR? What if we dared to love ourselves and our bodies exactly as we are today...every wrinkle, bulge, bone or dimple? What if we said "so what" to the criticisms and the body shaming? What if we allowed the people in our lives to walk out if they don't like our bodies as they are? What if we fed ourselves based upon loving the bodies that God gave us? What if we exercised with the same kindness and adoration toward ourselves that we feel toward our newborn babies when we first hold them close?What if we made love with the fully embodied sensuality that comes with knowing who we are as women? What if we dared to transcend all of the cultural body shaming and simply allow our bodies to become exactly what they are?
What if we treated ourselves as the divine art that we are? I have a feeling we might just change the world.