I Don’t Like Big Butts, and I Cannot Lie

I had a few ideas brewing in my mind today for a blog post. I was going to blog about a little twiggy teenage girl rear-ending my car yesterday, and how my first impulse—so new and foreign to me—was to put an arm around her and mother her down into a calm state. (“It’s okay,” I told her. “No damage done, except you made me say shit in front of my little girl, but we’re fine.”) Then I was going to write instead about the completely poopy translation Hollywood made of Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films, because I’m a decade behind the times like that. (But come on, she’s a totally genius save-the-day anti-twit in the books and is depicted like a histrionic girl-tied-to-the-tracks in the films).

And then I saw my ass.
And my belly.
And my arms.
Because my husband took this video today of me and my son:

My 4-year-old looks adorable, no? He has been completely enamored of this new Jillian Michaels exercise video I got last week. “Can I edger-size with you, Mama?” he asks. And then he tries so hard to do it. Really, really hard, and he loves the part with the weights, so I even went out and bought him some little hand-weights of his own today.

I really wanted a video of my son edger-sizing with me like this, because it captures his zesty little personality so well. He is honestly the sweetest little boy I have ever known—full of hugs, I love yous, forgiveness, innocence, and really pure happiness and curiosity. And he’s just really funny, even when he’s not trying to be, like when he looks at the girls in the Jillian Michaels video and says, “They’re cute, Mama. They seem happy, and I can see their belly buttons.”

But truth be known, all I can see when I watch that video is my butt, gut, and flabby arms, and how much I hate the way I look. Ridiculous or not, I feel icky when I see myself. Whose body IS that? I may be relatively okay for a 40-year-old mom of two, but it’s still uncomfortable to me. After I had my first baby, my body basically bounced right back to its old self in about six weeks. Turns out, that’s what happens only when you have one of those little pregnancies where you gain 25 pounds and have the baby early. Then along came my second child, and I ate so many Saltines and drank so much root beer to keep the barfing at bay—it plagued me through the entirety of both pregnancies, but I was able to keep more down with the second one. I gained 50 pounds. And the stretch marks showed up about five days before my son was born. You cannot undo stretch marks, which are basically like cinched elastic on your gut that is more than happy to expand easily for even the slightest addition to your belly. We’re talking something as small as a fart.

My son is four years old. Not four MONTHS but four YEARS. In other words, it’s safe to say my body is not just going to “bounce back.” It’s not all the fault of a pregnancy. It’s the process of getting older. It takes harder work and less food as your body gets older. This is not news to anyone—but I think I somehow thought I might be one of the lucky ones who doesn’t really have to worry about it. Wishful thinking and kind of arrogant. Also? Total denial that keeps kicking me in the ass. I jammed a 1/4 sleeve of Pringles in my face the other night because I couldn’t bear one more egg-white omelet, one more raw sweet pepper, one more slice of 35-calorie sandwich bread the size of a Chihuahua testicle and better suited to wiping my nose than accommodating a decent sandwich.

You know what might be the hardest part? It’s not seeing myself in a video and getting a reality-slap of what the scale-number looks like in Spandex exercise pants. It’s not baby carrots when I’d rather be eating chips. It’s the pretending that I accept my body, which I do for my 9-year-old daughter. This is the answer I make myself give her when she asks why I’m exercising: “Because I want to be stronger and healthier!” Why? Well, it’s not appropriate to say, “Because my butt is getting flatter and wider and grosser, and I hate my body.” I want her to care little about how her body looks.

I know it’s not a hopeless cause and that I really don’t have far to go to feel better in my skin. But the reality is, age happens, and unless I plan on undertaking a career as a personal trainer, I’ll never get back my 25-year-old bod. Frankly, I know few 70-year-old women who look fan-freaking-tastic in a swimsuit. And I think the answer to my conundrum lies in that answer I keep giving my daughter when she asks why I’m exercising. I need to stop bullshitting her—not by changing my answer but by sincerely meaning the one I keep giving. At my age? As a mom? I don’t need to feel hot in a bikini as much as I need to be smart about the self-respect and body-image issues I hand down to my daughter. My conclusion so far? It’s a lot harder to change my thinking than it is to change my butt.

P.S. No scolding allowed, my dears. I KNOW I’m being a freak.

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This entry was posted in beauty, body image, daughters, kids say the darndest things, motherhood, Past life, sons, speed-posts, vomiting. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to I Don’t Like Big Butts, and I Cannot Lie

  1. MILF Runner says:

    You are NOT being a freak. You just need to have at least one more baby. You won’t have time to eat. Or sit down. EVER.

    And eat oatmeal. And think of EWCM. #appetitecontrol

  2. Lynn says:

    A few things:
    A. I was looking at the video thinking…uhhhh…she looks pretty good actually.
    B. Then I got distracted by how good your form was, keeping your back arched and stuff.
    C. Then I went back to thinking how I couldn’t see anything bad going on with your body.
    D. Then I got hungry for Pringles.
    E. Then, wow that little boy is adorable!
    F. I completely hear you on everything you said in this post, it’s like you’re in my head.

    • I can only respond to “F,” or it will seem like I was compliment-fishing! Not glad you’re feeling the same way, Lynn, but glad to know I explained it in a relatable way. It’s not that I think I’m a blimp. It’s just that what I saw in the video did not match the image I have in my head, which is a throwback to before the kids were born. AND it was defeating, because I’m trying so hard to get in shape these days, but my body is just all, “Eff you, lady. We’re 40.”

      • Lynn says:

        That’s exactly my issue as well. I’m approaching 50 and as far as that goes I feel pretty good about my physical self, but I’m struggling with the fact that I can’t go backwards and have my pre-baby body back. Or my 30 year old body. Or anything. 🙂 Once skinny jeans go back out of style I think I will feel better. So much of how I feel comes straight from what I’m being fed in magazines and ads, even though I know better! And this is what I have to fight for my daughters’ sakes.
        Anyway, you are gorgeous and your little boy is so sweet I can hardly stand it.

  3. lablover22 says:

    Oh man you are not a freak at all. You are living the life and thinking the thoughts of all women everywhere. We all want our old bodies- the ones we never really appreciated when we had them. We all want to exercise for the right, noble reasons: health, setting an example, it’s a good stress reliever. We all want to feel better in our skin- just accept who we are. And the truth is, like many other things that we organically develop as we age, we will get there. Truly. I know I feel more comfortable in my skin (emotionally and psychologically) than I ever have. That wasn’t from constant self talk and convincing myself of this feeling. It happened as I grew up, lived, learned and matured. Physically speaking, yeah, I’m feeling much better than I have as a grown up. Again, self talk, self-help, sticking my head on the bodies of girls in bikinis? No, I grew up a bit and slowly started to accept more without even trying. i think my perspective changed. It happens to all of us whether we try or not.

    That being said, you have a rockn’ body. I’m sorry, I gotta say it. I work out. A lot. A whole lot. I see a lot of great bodies. And you, mama, have one!!
    Vicky

    • Hmn. Very interesting. Thank you! I hope that I can gradually accept the mirror image that does not look like my mental image — you know how you sometimes catch your reflection and get startled by what you see? Maybe there’s a process: denial–>struggle–>resignation–>acceptance? Did you get to skip over the resignation part? Somehow, I don’t think I will.

  4. I love the fact that despite how horrified you are by this video, you posted here for all to see.
    That actually helps me keep my own freakish thoughts in check, cause no one ever thinks you look as bad as you think you do. Congrats on the book!

  5. Taunya says:

    Love the blog. Reminds me how as I got older, there are more pictures of my mother with her hand at least part way over the camera, than smiling pictures where she is beaming and happy to be photographed.

    • True! And as infrequently as my picture gets taken–I’m always the one manning the camera–if you lined up all the pics of me next to each other from a 10-year period, it would look like I’m aging crazy fast because there are at least six months between each one!

  6. skywaitress says:

    All I could think (besides how cute your little guy is trying to do the moves with you) was I hope I look that “bad” at 40. I know you weren’t fishing for compliments with this and I’ve definitely been in a place where I felt like I look a lot worse than I actually did. Okay I’m there most of the time. I get it. But I have to say as an outsider, to me you look fantastic.

    • Well, that was very nice of you to say. What you said about “felt like I look a lot worse than I actually did” is actually the story of my life. For some reason, I just cannot seem to learn that lesson, even though life has tried so many times to teach it to me. I know for a fact that I will be looking back on that video in five years and thinking, “What the hell was I talking about? I looked fine…but NOW I look terrible.” 😉

  7. Dad says:

    How insightul it is for me to read all of our replies, as you all seem to be all of the generation below mine, and it’s interesting to see how similar you self perceptions are to mine when I was your age. I realize how easily we are “groomed”, throughout our entire lives, to be cute, then beautiful, then sexy, and always, THIN. For those of you who have little girls, please keep this conversation going, support each other in celebrating what is unique and wonderful about them. And if you have little boys, help them recognize what is “beautiful” in little girls that is not the message that the media will send them. Just seeing what you’ve all written, I feel good about the future of children.

    • Mom, wouldn’t it be nice if bulging out a bodice and the ability to eat a whole turkey leg in five seconds came back into fashion? I think you should write a guest post on my blog one of these days. Would you?

  8. Wow – you are US. I’m not a freak either, but I’m a decade older than you and spend way too much time missing my 40-year-old body -lol. Reading what you and others have written I realize that never have I seldom have I been happy with my shape (bad – we all know this is bad – and worse because lots of women would still envy my relative fitness and size) . It’s so crazy – I have daughters in their twenties – I try to shut up about not liking this or that – and really, honestly, the older I get, I do exercise to be healthy and strong – and because I enjoy good food.

    • Oh, I do that, too with the more exercise because I enjoy good food. I guess the upside is that the more I dislike my body and the more it retains fat, the more I exercise and the better I eat, so my neurosis is technically making me healther.

  9. Wow. We really are on the same page. I say the same thing about me getting healthy when my tween daughter sees me picking at my food but your right, I need to start believing it.

  10. Jessica says:

    Wow! Thanks for writing something that I think every.single.day. Now, I don’t have daughters, I have 2 small boys, but damn it I’m ticked that my youngest is 18 months and I still have the fluff. The freaking fluff AND stretch marks. I was back to my pre-everything 6 weeks after my first boy. This second one has kicked my butt. I’m technically back to my prepregnancy size and weight, but the flab drives me insane. Yet, I’m eating left over Valentines candy hearts while I’m writing this. I too need to get over it, accept the change of life, and move on. But I don’t want to! (Insert candy)

    • I just ate some Mike & Ike’s and stole a piece of my son’s chocolate from his Valentine chocolates. Solidarity! I always say it’s not really my size that bothers me — I’m fine with that. It’s my texture! Or maybe I should say my consistency? By the way, I clicked over to your blog and got caught up in reading about the social networking stuff (and totally agree with you) and then I just had to laugh because YOU were here eating candies while nodding about body issues, and then I went THERE to nod my head about me spending too much time on things like Facebook, Twitter, and BLOGS. So, basically we’re both nuts. (Nice to meet you.)

  11. That looks suspiciously like Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, Level 2. And if my husband ever videotaped me doing that workout, he wouldn’t get any supper for a week. Nobody looks good when they’re working out- it’s a rule of the universe. And if it makes you feel better, you look fitter than me and I’m 28 and haven’t even had any kids yet! I’ve also been doing that DVD for about three years and I’m getting to the point where I think I want to send it back, since I haven’t gotten “shredded” in any of the 30 day periods in which I have been using it. :-p

    • You’re like a Jillian Michaels workout DVD savant! That IS the 30-Day Shred, Level 2! I’m totally going to hang my hat on what you said about nobody looking good when they’re working out. If they’re really *working* out, they shouldn’t look all that great. I’m not getting shredded, but my preschooler is getting 6-pack abs. :/

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