Confidence: something I have much more of than when I was in my “way younger” years (teens, 20’s, 30s). I’m proud to say that I’m 42…I don’t feel it, but, alas, tis true. 42. Later this month, I’ll be adding a lovely year to the grand total. Whew, time flies! The years rolled by and I woke up one day, found that I’m the mother of a houseful of children, a woman with wisdom and the proud owner of many mistakes, accomplishments and precious memories. Ok, so it wasn’t an all of the sudden realization…more like a gradual “aha” coming of age sort of thing.
This week I’ve started counting calories and exercising to lose the extra 30 pounds that has found me in the last few years. But, I’m not doing it for anyone but myself. I’m not even doing it for pure vanity. I just value health and want to keep it. I want to keep up with my children and I want to have less of me to drag around with all the tasks I have in this large family! I’m not even losing the weight for my husband.Besides, he swears that I look the same as the day he married me. Sweet man(he needs glasses). See what love does?
I look at my current pictures and find that I hardly recognize myself. “That’s me?! It just can’t be! I’m so much younger and thinner than that smiling chick in the picture!”And then…. reality checks in. But never the less, I remain unfazed, my confidence still intact. Yes, I’m indeed older and carrying more curves than previous years, but much more comfortable in my own skin than I have ever been. Why is that? I can look back at the younger pictures and I remember being so worried about keeping an eye on my weight (ironically I was usually too thin to begin with) or fretting needlessly about how bad a hair day I might have been having. It oughta be embarrassing how much my girlfriends and I would chatter over the latest way to “work off the buns” or drop 5 lbs overnight! Remember the infamous “3 day diet” or the cabbage soup diet (should’ve been called the cabbage poop diet)? Ugh, how those crazy crash diets could suck the joy and life out of anyone!
Nowadays I have a low tolerance for hearing some woman whine about needing to drop 20 pounds real fast for some upcoming occasion or about how she needs to have this tucked, tweaked or enhanced. Nine times out of ten the women who are frittering over dieting are so tiny that you wonder if she has a carnival-house mirror in her bathroom and is seeing a distorted view of her body! Seriously?! I call these ladies skeletons in denial. They declare that they look like the Michelin tire man if they gain even a pound! Good grief! Give the lady a brownie and entice her to discuss something more interesting besides her cellulite or sagging breasts. God didn’t just make women gorgeous, He gave us brains too. Use them on better conversation.
I may still care about my weight, but for different reasons. Vanity is useless. My health and happiness is priority now. If I choose to take care of myself its so I can enjoy life better and be more of a blessing to the ones I love. Its also for myself. In my 20’s it might have been because I felt it was a prerequisite to love and respect. Newsflash: if we are truly loved, it isn’t for our bodies or faces, its for our heart and for who we are.
We, as young women, waste so much energy in fretting over our bodies, faces, hair and who’s looking and what people think. We, as 40 something year old women should have accumulated some healthier ways of looking at ourselves. I know I have. I know that I will never look 25 again and might not ever be a size 6 again and I don’t care one bit (on most days, anyway) But, I also am so much happier with my body, my face, and my hair than I ever used to be. I’ve learned to be thankful that my body can get out of bed and move through a busy life like it does. It daily amazes me what I can accomplish even when I think my energy is non-existent. I have in the last couple years experienced some strange and exhausting health issues, so when I am feeling good or even half-good, I’m ecstatically thankful! God is so merciful!
And as far as beauty goes…I believe there can be something beautiful in every year of our lives. Growing older we gain the wisdom we wish we could have had in our 20’s. It would have saved us from so many useless hours of self-loathing over the trivial things ( body image or what people think of us, etc).
Our world has the most distorted view of what beauty is. I tend to find beauty where others wouldn’t have dared to give a glance. There’s more to beauty than perfect abs, frizz-free shiny hair, an 22 inch waistline or a 22 year old face. As a matter of fact, I find people who obsess over their bodies extremely unattractive. The mere fact that they spend so much time fretting over every pound or even put themselves under the knife to try and achieve the “perfect” look is in itself unappealing. Don’t get me wrong about plastic surgery…I know that there are times that a surgery may buy someone some much needed confidence boost, but these days it seems to be an epidemic and at times an addiction.
So, here I am. 42. And very o.k. with it. This body of mine has bore children, weathered illness and heartache, held precious babies and children in its loving embrace, danced in the living room unashamed, sang hundreds of songs, walked many miles, and even “ran” after or from lots of “things”. I’m wiser than I used to be. I’m kinder to myself than I used to be. And I’m more confident about my beauty and who I am as a person than I could ever have hoped to be in my 20’s. There is a quiet peace with this new confidence.
By the way, let’s raise our daughters to be beautiful starting from the inside out. Teach them how to be healthy spiritually, mentally and physically by loving the Lord with all their heart and putting God first. Help them to stay off the treadmill of body obsession and to focus on true beauty and spiritual peace. Let’s teach them that lasting beauty and confidence is only found in what God can give us and not in what they see in their mirror.