And here, my friends, is my greatest nemesis when it comes to contentment. This is the one that I still struggle with, but that as I’m getting older, I’m starting to gain more confidence in. Physical appearance and more specifically in my case, my body. Now, this can apply to your facial features, your hair, your skin, etc. The one thing they all have in common is that none of them should get in the way of your happiness or contentment in life.
I’ve struggled with acne for pretty much as long as I can remember. When I was in junior high/high school, I had acne so bad that I had to see a dermatologist. I remember hearing my cousin (when she thought I was sleeping) saying “Danielle is so pretty, but she has zits so bad.” I couldn’t be mad at her because I knew my skin was terrible. I wish I could say that it ended when I was young, but I have suffered with cystic acne along my jawline since I had my youngest son (9 1/2 years ago). I’m talking huge acne that couldn’t be popped in any sort of way and once it was gone, would leave marks for a good month. Just within the last two months or so, I have noticed that stopping. It’s about dang time, since I’m 37 years old! The reason I mention this is because I know it seriously affected my confidence and made me extremely self-conscious in a lot of situations. Not very conducive to being content with your physical appearance.
In much of the same way, I have struggled with my weight for years. I am very short (barely 5’1″) and have a pretty thick build. When you’re this short, even a 5 pound weight gain is noticeable. You can imagine what I looked like pregnant and I did not do well losing the baby weight. 3 kids later, with holding onto a decent amount of weight from each of them…I found myself very uncomfortable with my body. Now, some lifestyle changes (like stopping drinking alcohol almost 7 years ago) helped me lose a lot of that weight. About 5 years ago, I did really well and lost 30 pounds and felt amazing. I kept it off well for almost a year and then 20 of it slowly crept back. Most recently, I gained 10 pounds within a month and a half (and am currently having some medical things checked out to see if it’s part of some other issues I’m having) and I have felt so down about it. I’m thick everywhere and my clothes are fitting tightly and I’m not really digging it. I’ve been struggling with feeling like I don’t look good in anything.
Now, let me tell you that I have not worn shorts in summer for probably 14 years or more. I have worn the occasional bermuda shorts, but usually only while camping. My legs are thick, they have cellulite, I have stretch marks behind my knees and over the past 2 years I am developing varicose veins. I have been very self-conscious about my legs for years. I have felt far too embarrassed about my legs to wear shorts in public where I would be exposing myself to the possible ridicule of others. I have opted to wear clothes I am uncomfortably hot in, just to avoid the possibility of people seeing my legs. Now here is where this post is really going to take off…
WHO IN THE HECK CARES if other people think my legs are hideous? Do I look at other people and judge them by their legs or any other part of their body? NO! If you do, shame on you! Do my legs match the idea of “sexy” or “attractive” legs? Not as far as society’s standards go, but my husband finds them pretty dang sexy and attractive and darn it, I’m going to choose to let that be enough! And truthfully, shame on me for allowing what others “might” think to keep me from being comfortable and confident in my own skin.
Why in the world have I bought into this idea that my legs need to look a certain way to be acceptable and worthy of wearing shorts or dresses? Why haven’t I valued myself more than to worry so much about my physical appearance? Aren’t I so much more than that? Of course I am! I’m a woman who loves fiercely and cares deeply and is a total goofball and laughs with sincerity and loves to do things to bring joy to others. I am not my legs, my stomach, my arms…any of those things. Those are just things I have, like most everyone else, but they have nothing to do with the kind of person I am. Guess what, YOUR body had nothing do with the kid of person YOU are either. We are all so much more than our bodies.
I declared to Brian the other night that I am going to go buy myself some shorts and I am going to wear them this summer and be comfortable when it’s hot. I’m not going to let my size or skin or whatever else determine my happiness. I deserve to be comfortable. I deserve to enjoy life without constantly thinking about what people may or may not be thinking about what I’m wearing.
I’m a Christian and shame on me for allowing the world to tell me what beautiful looks like when I KNOW that I AM BEAUTIFUL and it has little to do with the skin I’m in and everything to do with what’s in my skin. I have a husband and family who loves me like crazy and friends who love me and a life that is so incredibly blessed. None of those things are conditional upon what my body, skin, hair, etc. looks like. They love me for me and it’s time for me to love me for me too.
So, if you see me out rocking some shorts this summer, you’ll know I’m choosing contentment over obsessing over my physical appearance. You’ll know I’m choosing to enjoy my life.