Endure, Persist, Prevail
I just saw what feels like the seven millionth television commercial I've seen in my 44 years on this planet, asking me if I want to know the secret to perfectly clear skin, shiny hair and a flawless body. I can’t turn on the TV, listen to the radio or flip through a magazine without having some beauty or diet company tell me they can fix my flaws and transform me into a new and approved version of myself and frankly, it's getting a little silly. When I was a teenager, I bought into the concept of a beauty ideal. I started to believe that if what people saw on the outside wasn't perfect than who I was on the inside wasn't important. I focused on all the things that I felt were wrong about how I looked and stopped believing in all the things that were right about who I was. This developed into an eating disorder that controlled my life for over twenty years. It took years of abusing my body through dieting and over exercising to realize that I was fighting the wrong enemy. My body wasn't the problem. The problem was how I was unfairly judging it.
I decided to look at all the things my body has been through over the years and reflect on everything it’s experienced. My body, THIS body, has delivered two healthy children, even after losing three pregnancies in between. It has undergone two major surgeries as well as several medical procedures and spent months recovering in the hospital and has been pushed to its limits with painful, strenuous, unhealthy workouts and over twenty years of horribly restrictive diets followed by painful bouts of compulsive overeating when I let self-serving media and marketing groups tell me that who I was just wasn't good enough.
I see things so differently now. It's kind of funny that when I was a teenager, with naturally shiny hair, and a body free from lines and wrinkles, I found imperfection everywhere I looked, but now as a woman in my 40s, those imperfections have disappeared; or maybe I've just stopped looking. Instead of hiding my body when I don't want to be seen, I've chosen to decorate it with several beautiful and inspiring tattoos to remind myself of my strength, courage and perseverance.
When I watch those diet and beauty commercials trying to lure me in with their promises of beautiful skin and a perfect body, I can't help but wonder who they're talking to. No laugh lines? No cellulite? No stretch marks? No thank you! I don't love my body in spite of its "imperfections"; I love my body because of them. Why would I want to smooth out my laugh lines or get rid of the soft belly that housed my children for nine months? My body is a living, breathing organism, not a store mannequin made of plastic. I've done a lot of living and I'm absolutely fine with my body being a reflection of that. My body tells my story and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Marci Warhaft-Nadler is a body image advocate, founder of the Fit vs Fiction workshops, blogger for The Huffington Post and author of “The Body Image Survival Guide for Parents: Helping Toddlers, Tweens and Teens Thrive”. After battling her own body image issues, Marci created her Fit vs Fiction program to tear down the dangerous myths related to beauty and fitness and empower kids with the self-esteem they need to grow up with the confidence they deserve. She is also the proud mother of two sons.