You know, I established long ago that there is just nothing you can say to a pregnant woman that won't piss her off. "Oh my goodness! You're about ready to pop, right?" Um....no. I've been told that since I was 5 months along. Thanks, everyone. Thanks. It's probably my fault for being so sensitive. After all,I need to give everyone a break, because it's a HUGE relief when there is something OBVIOUS to talk about with people, and you don't have to strain your brain trying to find common ground. Babies are the great equalizer of people and their conversations. We all want to connect with other human beings on some level, and it's so much freaking easier when there's this "elephant in the room" so to speak (definitely what I feel like lately). You get to talk about the obvious huge projection out of the woman's belly, or the little, sweet infant she's holding, instead of forcing those contrived conversations about "yeah, we've just been really busy." and "Oh, yeah, I know! We have been soooo busy lately." Yup....busy, busy, busy. cricket. cricket. However, at this last festival, where I must have appeared prodigiously "ripe", I had about 20 people come up to me and ask if I had swallowed a watermelon. Haha, funny, funny *cries into hotel pillow that night*
This has been a really good learning experience for me. Many of you know how frustrated I get with women insulting their bodies incessantly. Any of you who have ever come into my booth at a renaissance festival have probably witnessed me clicking my tongue, shaking my finger, and soundly chastising another grown woman for using the "F" word in my booth (in other words, them saying they're FAT.) The thing is, I spent about a whole entire year trying to reverse all of my bad brain patterns and habits. I even started writing a book about it (which will probably never see the light of day, because I do so much dang sewing that I don't have time for much else.) because I realized one day that all of the diets, exercise programs, surgery, beauty products, and yes, EVEN corsets in the WORLD couldn't make you learn to love your body unless you jump-started that mental journey on your own! I had worked my way down to 50 pounds less than I was after I gave birth to my son 7 years ago, and yet, when I looked in the mirror, all I had was shame, judgements, insults, and the most abusive language you can possibly conceive! I had honestly thought that once I lost the weight, the self-hatred would go away. Wrong.
I started to do a "brain-re-washing" as I thought of it. I knew that all of those thoughts that I had were just habits I had developed, and they were so powerful that they literally affected what I saw in the mirror. I knew that if I wanted to help other women learn to love their bodies, then I didn't want to be a hypocrite and spend all of my free mental time trashing mine! Here are a few of the things I did.
*Step out of the shower. Stare at completely naked body until I could say something genuinely nice about it. Sometimes this took about 10 minutes, and lots of tears.
*Practice a simple "thank you" to compliments, instead of immediately shooting down whatever kind thing had been said. We're all guilty of this, and it sucks. Just say "thanks" and smile. Both people go away feeling better. It doesn't NEED to be "Wow, I like your shirt." with "OH my hell! I'm so fat and bloated today! This color makes me look like a sickly manatee!!!" Seriously, friends. Did that help anyone? Nope.
*Find things you like about other people, tell them firmly, frankly, and without pause. The only way you can truly build yourself up is to build others up. Funny how that works. The more self-centered we become, the less happy we are with....ourselves! However, the more we think of OTHERS, and become self-LESS, the more we like ourselves. Ah, irony.
*Wake up every day and TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. I work from home, so technically, there's no reason for me to put on makeup and do my hair....except for the fact I can either have an awesome, productive day sewing the heck out of corsets, feeling beautiful, OR I can wear pajama pants that hang around my legs, be in a bad saggy bra(those don't exist for me anymore. Push up, all the way, baby!) and be afraid to answer the door, even for the UPS man. In fact, ONE single time this last year, I just wore my pjs to work and didn't do my hair of makeup. I was in such a bad mood the whole entire day that I snapped at people, accomplished very little, ate straight junk food, and didn't drink enough water. Yuck.
What the JUNK? Where the devil does this maniacal voice come from??? If someone in my life EVER said ANY of these things to me, even the lightweight ones, I would shut them out of my life immediately. I wouldn't want to spend any time with this sadistic voice. She's a freaking B-otch, and is most likely jealous of me....or something. Yet, instead of throwing her out the second she starts the insulting, I agree with her, submit to her, validate her, and INDULGE her. Why would I do this? Why do women do this? Especially, in my life right now, when my body is doing something wonderful like building a human being(and don't ANY of you deny it! It's the freaking reason YOU are here to even have an opinion. Your mother sacrificed and went through all this mental, physical, and emotional turmoil so that you could be here! Be grateful!)?
It must have something to do with the triumph of the human spirit. It's easy for us to do the...easy thing. It's much easier to feel sorry for ourselves and retreat into our own selfishness, whining, victimizing, and bitter self-pity. The hard thing to do is to battle the natural voice, inclinations, and weaknesses! Think about it. How much work is it to find something you hate about yourself? Um. No work at all. It doesn't take brain power. It doesn't make you unique, strong, or resilient. It makes you like every other woman who "hates her fat thighs and stupid belly pouch." You won't be anything impressive, to yourself OR to others. On the other hand, how HARD is it to find something you truly love and appreciate about your body? I'm not talking about vanity and narcissism, I'm talking about a humble, quiet gratitude for something you have been blessed with. I'm talking about a peaceful feeling that makes you cherish what you have so that, instead of loathing yourself, you're able to channel that positive feeling outward and help people cherish what makes them unique.
When I'm at a positive level with my own body, I look at others and see beauty, character, passion, and absolute wonder! I can go and work festivals, and the women I meet are so lovely that I get emotional and teary-eyed when I talked to them, because their inner and outer beauty are nearly blinding. When I'm filled with negativity and deprecation, I constantly compare myself with other women, berating my own body for falling short, and HATING those women for having what I can't have. Not healthy or productive.
Crap, maybe I will write that book. Maybe. For right now, I've got to get to bed so I can sew frantically for the last week before Halloween. As always, thank you for all of your support. Even though lots of people told me I looked like a watermelon, an even bigger number of women told me how beautiful my belly looked, and believe me, I NEEDED that desperately. You gals must be in a better mental position than me! Keep yelling at that horrible inner voice. I hope to one day shut all of them up!