Friday, April 1, 2011

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall...

By: Mary Alford-Carman

Weight came up in a discussion this week and as usual, I wanted to change the subject to anything other than that. Did I really need to be reminded that bathing suit season is just around the corner? For the past twenty-five years I have struggled with my weight. I was never tiny, but much of the time I was healthy. I look back on some photos and wonder where I ever got the idea that I was overweight. I'd give anything to weigh now what I weighed in quite a few photos I tucked away. I was active; I walked everywhere and rode my bike. I had a waist and when I looked down I could see my toes. I've tried every diet known to man and I have enough sizes in my closet to open a small boutique. Weight is an ugly word.

That said; I'm worried. I know how it feels to have a poor self-image and to constantly feel like the outer shell must be perfect for someone to get close enough to like the "real you." Now my thirteen-year-old daughter looks in the mirror and worries about her thighs, which are the size of small twigs. What's wrong with this picture? On TV you have trainers shouting at adults who are overweight and cutting into the core of their souls in the interest of ratings and "making them better." How does screaming at someone help them be better? How is this a good thing? Sure, sure, if the end result is that they lose the weight, then everything is hunky dory, right? No, nope, nada, zip.

Trying to be healthy is a grand thing, trying to fit a preset image is another. American Idol wants the entire package, fantastic looks and a voice combined and if you don't fit both…bye-bye. Where would we be if American Idol looked at Carol King, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Mumford and Sons, Amy Winehouse, or for that matter, Steven Tyler? The combined talent of these individuals could fuel a rocket to space and back times infinity, but that's not what the media, magazines and TV shows exemplify today.

I want my daughter to know it takes more than a pretty face, a carved body, and a size zero wardrobe to be a whole person, that youth and beauty fade, but the mind and soul quicken, bloom and enrich, that when you hold up the mirror of life, all those who look back at you with love and respect are what matter. Beauty is as beauty does…oh when will we learn? In the meantime I'll keep plucking away for a healthier me, and if I'm lucky, maybe I'll get around to cleaning out my closet.


  1. Working for a plastic surgeon- beauty, weight, image are always a concern - in the end, it's whats on the inside that matters. Confidence and self-assurance is not something that comes from your outward appearance. It has to come from within.

  2. I've run the gamut from anorexic to plump, and now I'm sort of in the middle, but still not, of course, satisfied with where I am. I really hope the sick photo-shopping ad industry gets over their need to thin out 110-lb girls before mine gets much older. We keep her from tv (especially cartoons, which are the WORST in terms of the shape of female forms), but I doubt we'll be able to stop her from seeing those images forever.

  3. Janet...

    I am 50 with a 12 yr old and almost 14 year old, I do not want to be "round", I want my body back. I'm tired of playing I'm taking it back! This body that's been so determined to "redesign" me, well you're done, off with you and take that belly fat with you!

    I don't know how this happened, well maybe I do, missing meals, not enough sleep, too many hours in cars and at computers, eating the wrong things because I'm starving or in a hurry. Well I'm done. I don't like being round!

    My weapon, Zumba 4 times a week. It's working. It tones and it burns calories, 500 - 1000. Ten pounds gone and even the neighbors are commenting on my form. In a good way this time!

    Do I have time for this? Not really yet I go 4 times a week. Four hours just for me, four hours without phones or "MOM!". I don't do very much for me but I'm doing this, dinner may be late, but I'm doing this for ME!

    And when I'm not there I can Zumba in my day, just to burn a few more. I will not be round this summer, or at least not as round. I will keep Zumba in my life, because after trying so many other things, this is working for me.

    And when I stop for any length of time, it all comes back, doesn't even creep, just returns at lightning speed or was that the sparks between my thighs?

    My daughter, is like a stick. She's healthy, eats healthy, lives healthy, so did I until early 40's and then the Creep began. My daughter knows I just want me back, the me before the Creep came, layering my body with the round. The Creep that tries to take away my health and my future. Well Creep, the fight is on!

    Good bye round, good bye Creep, Hello Zumba! Hello me, I knew I was still under there put on some sunscreen and come see the light of day! I am returning!

  4. So very true that the inner beauty comes from within, but I do agree that it's good to stay fit and have a lifestyle that lends itself to activity. It's hard to do these days...the zumba looks like fun, but I'll stick with power walking until I can find more time. At 13 it's hard to keep my daughter away from the TV, but luckily she still enjoys Animal Planet and running through the woods behind our home. If only we could see ourselves as our friends do, they see the good outweighs the bad....then maybe our self-image would improve.

  5. I'm not coordinated enough for Zumba! LOL! In addition to my aerobic workout I've recently started doing yoga on Thursday nights with the kids (who are still young and limber...) Yoga creates strength and flexibility. Any kind of resistance training helps to build BONE mass. As we all age, our bones get more brittle...resistance training (weights, bands, yoga, etc.) helps with that. I think everyone needs to keep perspective. I've been actively trying to "get in shape" for about seven months...It took me years to put the weight on...taking it off isn't easy. Right now my biggest goal is to not have "chicken wings" arms in my strapless wedding dress in a few months. I salute anyone trying to improve their health!!!

  6. I want to wear the world like a loose garment, but it's hard when my jeans are too tight. Age does have something to do with that...I always had the killer metabolism that kept me thin, but didn't realize how grateful I should have been all my life. Seeing sickness surround me makes me want to exercise more for many reasons.
    But I do not want to be the one navel-gazing at my growing belly button either. I want to help save the lives of teenage girls; I want them to know their weight in the world has so much more to do with their brains, talents and brawn than their pant size. I had a friend die from her years of bulimia/anorexia, an aneurysm in her 30s--she left two small children alone. We must educate teenage girls about the costs, about feminism, about caring in the right way for our bodies. Mommy doesn't need to (and shouldn't, I say) look like a teenager. Ageism issues are involved, I'd wager. So here's to health, to exercise for the soul, for a good enough view of ourselves that we can pass down some wisdom to those little girls who so need it. I'd say you're right on track with that Mary. Be proud of that!

  7. I remember starting my first diet at 16, and looking back I can't help but want to shake my younger self and ask why. I'm into self improvement and I need it, but I want my daughter to know it's for my health and well being, not because I want to look like a 51 year old trying to be 20 again. There is so much more to life and living than the size of my pants...or backside. It's the size of our hearts, the strength of our minds and the ability to see our own beauty reflected in those who love us. I hope my daughter hears me and sees what I do when I look at her.

    Thanks Sheilah and Lea. May we all be healthy and have a healthy attitude.


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