Elizabeth Davies: Learn to love the woman on the inside
I was two miles into my run, and something was really bothering me.
It wasn’t the fact that my sock was bunching up in my shoe, though that was becoming increasingly annoying by the minute.
What was more troubling was what I was watching on the gym television. Oprah’s guest for the day was Geneen Roth, a weight-loss writer, motivational speaker and author of the book “Women, Food and God.” The topic du jour — seeing food in a healthy light and loving yourself regardless of weight — clearly resonated with women in the audience and presumably with women across the country.
But I found myself deeply saddened to realize that so many women, overweight and otherwise, struggle with their weight because, at the core, they go through life wondering if they are good enough. For as far as women have come professionally and socially, too many of us still feel unworthy.
That’s not OK.
I’m not always thrilled with the way I look. Heck, I perpetually look four months pregnant in the wrong outfit. But with age, I’ve learned to separate the way I look from the person I am.
I could drive myself nuts by obsessing over the stretch marks on my stomach, or by thinking about the way the skin wrinkles over my knees. But the fact is this: I use that stomach every time I swing a child into the air, and those knees each time I get eye-level with my little ones.
We live in such a visual, sexual society that it’s easy to get trapped in the glossy world of magazines, where everyone is airbrushed, tightened and lifted to perfection. Somehow, we have to remind ourselves that beauty is not ultimately judged based on how you look in jeans.
I made a decision long ago that I was going to age gracefully. Of course, I was the ripe ol’ age of 23 at the time. Wrinkles and gray hair were things the distant future was made of.
As I got older — and wrinkles became inevitable — I reconsidered my definition of “aging gracefully.” It’s become less of a physical thing and more of an attitude. The wrinkles are laugh lines from good memories. The stretch marks were a steppingstone to creating new life.
My body became a thing of function — it can run and dance, cuddle and cook. I will never have the best body in the room, but that’s a silly measurement of success anyway. Walk into enough rooms and you eventually will find someone who is thinner, stronger, taller or prettier than you. All you can do is be your best.
And that’s why it’s so vital for women to find acceptance within themselves. They need to realize that they are good enough, period. No amount of calorie counting or time in the gym is going to change that. It can make your legs stronger or your heart healthier, but it won’t change your self-worth. You might go from a size 18 to a size 8, but you will still be as valuable as a human being. At the core, you’ll be the same.
So who is on the inside? Because that’s the girl you have to fall in love with. She’ll be there, regardless of your looks or your age or your physical abilities, until the day you die. To search for something more is to chase something we’ll never catch.
I ended my run that day with sore feet — I’ve since sworn off those socks — and sore legs. But more important, I had a hurting heart. It ached for the many women in this sisterhood who don’t live up to their potential because they don’t give themselves enough credit. They fight the same fight, day after day, because they don’t see the beauty that is so obvious to everyone around them.
And as women, we’re better than that.
Contact Elizabeth Davies at firstname.lastname@example.org.