Wednesday was my youngest sons graduation from elementary school. This meant I needed to dress up. I don’t own dress clothes. I don’t have any reason to wear them, so I just don’t have them. I keep a few skirts around, and so I squeezed myself into one of them. I felt awful. Last year this skirt fit great and I felt good in it. This year I felt like sausage stuffed in a casing. During the ceremony the teacher had a PowerPoint presentation from the year and there was a picture of me and my son in it from a field trip. I was mortified by how I looked. The day was hard because he is my baby and now I have no children in elementary school. But, it was made worse by how bad I felt in my own skin. I don’t want to be the mom whose son is embarrassed to have his friends see.
Fast forward to Thursday, and the last day of school. I had to get dressed up again for the same sons awards assembly, and I had run out and bought a cheap dress so I’d have something to wear. I was taking pictures of both boys on my porch, feeling fat and frumpy again, and my oldest son said “Mommy, you look so pretty”. I thanked him, but in my mind I was thinking, “I look awful”.
I have been beating myself up for two days now for how much weight I’ve gained over the past year and how scared I am to go back to my old weight. Then a friend posted an article on Facebook called “When Your Mother Says She’s Fat“. It was somewhat devastating to read. I have boys, so I don’t always think about how what I say about how I look impacts them. This article made me think hard. When we think about body image issues, we generally think about protecting little girls. We don’t want them to grow up with the body image issues, eating disorders, and self hate that we’ve carried around.
But it impacts boys too. The instances of eating disorders in men is rapidly increasing. I see just as many men in my gym doing everything they can to change their bodies. I’ve even made jokes to my boys about lifting weights to impress girls (and yes, I now feel awful about that).
I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve said “I look fat” in front of my boys, or berated myself in some other way. Never once did I think about how they saw me, or what my negative self talk might do to them. In my eyes my boys are absolutely perfect…it never occurred to me that they thought I was too.