“Is this chick living in my bathroom?”
The conversation that Chaunie from Tiny Blue Lines talks about today is one that I’ll bet happens in your bathroom, too. And it shouldn’t. Why is it so hard to accept our beauty – the kind that everyone else can see, but we can’t?
The other day, I stood in the bathroom, getting ready to hop in the shower before I turned into bed for the night. As I turned to remove my earrings, my husband happened in.
Stopping dead in his tracks at all my naked pregnant glory, he kissed my shoulder and said simply, “Wow. You’re beautiful.”
Disdainfully, I shrugged him off. “Yeah, right. Stop it.”
Sighing at this all-too-typical exchange, he trudged out of the bathroom, leaving me alone and feeling guilty.
Why is my response to my husband always the same? I am lucky enough to have a husband who tells me, almost daily, that he thinks my six-month pregnant self is beautiful—so why can’t I believe him?
The simple truth of the matter is, my husband thinks I’m beautiful.
But I don’t.
I know it’s bad for our marriage. With every kiss I brush off or compliment I vehemently deny, I am hurting not only my husband, but myself, and my daughters too.
Why is it so hard? Why can’t I believe that he thinks I’m beautiful? I know he is sincere. For some crazy reason, he really thinks I am the most beautiful woman in the world. I don’t know what he sees when he looks at me, but it certainly isn’t the mess of stretch marks, back fat, and loose, saggy skin that I see when I look in the mirror.
I grew up with a mother with chronically low self-esteem. In fact, I’m pretty sure almost every single female member of my family has displayed the same behavior I now exhibit. My childhood was filled with a litany of bodily complains from my mother and aunts…
“I’m so fat.”
“Oh, stop, no you’re not, I’m the fat one! Look at these rolls!”
“Please. Do you know how much I weigh right now? Do you??”
It was a constant, constant back-and-forth. A sworn oath to diet and exercise one day, a binge and remorseful body bashing the next.
There was never a healthy body image or appreciation for the female form in my household. And while I’ve tried to combat that now as a grown woman and mother, with exercising (I just ran my first 10 mile race this summer!) and introducing fresh and healthy foods to the girls, I still find myself focusing, over and over, on the flaws of my body.
-My arms are too big.
-My stomach, no matter what I do, or how much weight I lose, will never shake its bariatric-surgery-rolls of loose-flesh-hanging look.
-My legs have cellulite for the first time in my life.
-My hair is flat and thin.
-I’m pretty sure I have a double chin.
-I have one black hair that insists on growing right on the bottom of my chin, threatening to turn me into that old lady in the nursing home, sporting whiskers and yelling at people from my wheelchair.
Why can’t I see past the imperfections of who I am?
I am not my arms, or my stomach, or my cellulite-y legs; I am not even the whisker on my chin.
I am more than that.
I am a mother.
I am a sister.
I am a daughter.
I am a wife who is beautiful in her husband’s eyes.
Maybe you’re not like me; maybe you always believe it when someone compliments you. Maybe you don’t push your husband away when he comes home and you’re covered in milk, baby poop, spit-up and the remnants of your toddler’s lunch.
But just in case…
Here is my challenge to you:
The next time your husband, your boyfriend, your partner, or even a stranger compliments you, do not, I repeat, do not, deny, protest, or otherwise reject the compliment. Instead, I want you to try the two following simple tasks:
1. Say “thank you.”
2. Believe it.
Because we all really are beautiful. Whiskers and all.
Chaunie is a freelance writer, labor and delivery nurse, and advocate for young mothers. She blogs about life as a young mom with three kiddos at www.tinybluelines.com. Also check her out on Twitter and on Facebook.