By Joanna Owusu
This morning, I woke up and squeezed into some leggings before heading to yoga class. I noticed a little muffin top spilling over. I resisted the urge to push it in or self-immolate over last night’s dinner choices.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I’ve been acutely aware of what I eat and the number on the scale since about age 12. I never had a serious issue with my weight. And yet, I’ve spent three decades of my life with a near-constant inner dialogue about food, exercise, and appearance. I think about my mother, who got sick at 55 and died at 61. I remember her fighting her weight, with varying degrees of success, my entire childhood. I also remember her reaching a point, finally, of acceptance. And just a few short years later, getting sick.
The older you get, the more you recognize that someone dropping a bunch of weight isn’t necessarily cause for celebration. Sometimes it’s the result of illness. Or depression. Or a personal crisis.
And if we gush over someone’s weight loss, heaping them with compliments when they shed a few pounds, what does that say about how they looked before the dramatic change? Did they not look great before? Is a woman’s value STILL linked so inextricably to her weight…even as we reach our forties, fifties, and beyond?
I’m not throwing in the towel on my appearance. But I’m done wringing my hands over every bite of food and calorie burned. It’s important to me to stay healthy, for my family and for myself. And to that end, I walk and attend restorative yoga classes. But the focus, now, is different. I’m working on strength, flexibility, and balance—physical and mental balance. I’m not desperately seeking a six-pack or trying to fit back into old clothes in my closet in an effort to return to a younger me.
I’m 42 and this remarkable, strong body has made and fed three healthy babies. I don’t expect it to look like it did at 22. How is that realistic? And I think about my mom. I think about the increasing number of women I know who are close to my age and have gotten sick. God willing, I have several healthy decades left. I’m not wasting any more brain power fretting over the number on the scale or the size on the jeans. There are books to read, trips to plan, and personal or professional goals to achieve.
I plan to keep eating veggies. But if I’m craving a taco or a brownie, I’m going to have one, without apology or explanation. And if I run into a friend I haven’t seen in a long time whose appearance has changed, I think I’ll compliment her hair style, or her blouse, or her healthy glow.
It’s exhausting – talking about, reading about, obsessing about our bodies. I’d rather talk about almost any other topic. Enough. Let’s talk brownies.
About the Author
Joanna McFarland Owusu is a freelance writer and researcher based in Dallas, Texas. A federal government analyst in a former life, Joanna now spends her time wrangling two not-so-little boys and a toddler daughter. Her work has appeared on The Huffington Post, scarymommy.com, www.bust.com, and www.bluntmoms.com.
Get Weekly Updates!
Sign up today for free and be the first to get notified of new posts just once per week.