I have been rolling this post around in my head for quite some time. As I sit down to put words to my thoughts, I am struck by the fact that I have not run my finger over this corner of the wires for well over a year.
Please excuse the dust.
I realize, with both sadness and disappointment, that in the past (almost) two years, any connection over the wires has been relatively limited to 140 characters, hashtags, and image filters. It is especially concerning that I often find myself seeking out the "LIKE" button when replying to co-workers' e-mails. And now, thanks to the advancement in cellular technology, I can merely send hyrogliphic text messages to all my friends 👭 and family 👨👩👧👧 in case they have become immune 😷 to the English language 📱.
The other realization I've noted in this plugged in lifestyle, is that my primary source of information input comes via my various newsfeeds.
The convergence of all of these realizations came to me the other day (in what was likely a 140 character thought) while I was putting on my mascara. That thought was, "My lashes aren't plump enough."
And as quickly as that thought entered my head, I stepped back from the mirror, dropped my mascara and stared at my reflection with an expression I can only describe as one of unrecognition.
Whoa. Who the hell are you and how did you get inside my head?
Let's pause for some self-examination.
Like many women I know, I have always struggled with self-image in waves...
I'm too fluffy.
I'm too frumpy.
I'm too saggy.
I'm too wrinkly.
I'm too freckly.
I'm too blotchy.
But what I have found, especially in the last ten years, is that the tide rolls in when my focus rolls out; when I allow the world to overtake me and pull me down, I try to stay afloat using things masked as flotation devices - alcohol, food, cigarettes, pain-killers...Netflix. But these flotation devices have holes...and there are captains out there on big ships making millions of dollars by selling me patches for my leaky inner tubes. Over time, these patches accumulate, placing one on top of another on top of another. And they get heavy. And if you passed elementary science, then you know what happens to heavy things in the water...they sink.
Every night, I alternate bedside watch between my two girls with my guy. I typically use the time between good-night kisses and dreams to unlock my phone and peruse the day's events. Last night I decided to conduct a little experiment in preparation for this post. I reviewed an hours worth of my newsfeed which is comprised of posts from my friends, organizations I "LIKE" and suggested media based on my interactions on social media. In that hour, I noted:
- 15+ posts on politics
- 15+ posts made by friends (or shared) about products guaranteed to cleanse my body, slim me down and tighten me up.
- 12 "personal" posts (posts of friends' kids, personal status updates or check-ins to local eateries)
- Six mindless quiz results about which movie character/color/presidential candidate/how many kids you will have/which celebrity you most look like
- Five posts about yoga
- Three posts from friends on make-up that won't smudge and will make my eyes look humongous
- Two posts about crochet patterns
- An article titled, "How Jennifer Lawrence Maintains a Svelte Figure While Eating Burgers and Fries..."
- A post from a natural living site titled "Three Empowering Attitudes that Make You Irresistibly Attractive"
- One meme that said, "It's called a catwalk, not a fatwalk".
Yeah, that happened.
So let's analyze the information.
Of the posts I polled in an hours worth of newsfeed:
25% were political in nature.
35% basically told me I'm not good enough the way I am (85% of which had something that could help me with that).
20% were personal (pictures, statuses, check-ins).
~11% were based on interests (yoga, crochet)
~10% were based on quizzes my "friends" took and shared.
Thirty. Five. Per. Cent.
If it weren't an election year, what would that percentage have looked like?
And this is just an hour in my personal newsfeed. Never mind the ads that pop up on search engines or the commercials that my daughters are subjected to during the dinner hour or the number of scantly clad women that grace the dozens of magazine covers in the grocery store check out.
So what does this information tell me?
I pay way too much attention and devote far too much energy on the way other people look and the way I think I should look. Why wasn't my newsfeed comprised of 35% yoga? Or 35% yarn? Or 35% coffee? Hell, I would have preferred 35% stupid cat videos. But 35% of what I saw had to do with me not being good enough.
THAT is not good enough.
So why, after almost 17 months of silence, do I find myself here?
Because it's not good enough.
It's not good enough for me.
It is definitely not good enough for my daughters.
This winter, I was met with complete and utter resistance from my almost-8-year-old when it came to wearing her coat to school. Because, she said, it made her look "fat". I know that notion didn't (directly) come from words that have been spoken between our walls. But as I reflect on 35%, I have to wonder if I have somehow projected that 35% onto my daughter by my own actions.
Or perhaps it has stemmed from the Weight Watchers commercials that run right as we sit down to a meal.
Or perhaps it's the skinny girl with the belly button cleavage that my near-tween fascinates over while I buy milk.
It's not good enough.
But she is.
Both of my girls are.
And I know that the only way I can guide them in that realization is to realize it myself.
Untether yourself from your perceived flotation devices.
Rip off the patches
and you will float.
We are good enough.