Getting fit

Today is the Hearts at Home link-up and today's assigned topic is no more perfect bodies and I'm not sure what to write. And that's certainly not because I have a perfect body, let's just get that out of the way right now. Along with just about every woman in America, if asked, I could list more than a couple of things I dislike about my body and also assure you that it would be better if I could take off 5 or 10 pounds. But in reality, I don't spend a whole lot of time fixating on it. There are a couple of things I purposefully do to keep the obsession at bay. I don't own a scale. It's not because I can't afford one, it's because I will not let one in my house. I learned in college that it is far too easy to step on the scale first thing in the morning and let that number dictate what my day was going to be like. It was like living with a dictator. I decided it was far better to judge if I had had too many desserts by how my clothes were fitting. I also do not subscribe or look at nearly all of the glossy women's magazines that are out there. As I've written before, what you surround yourself with becomes your reality and I don't want that reality. I think it is far better to concentrate on eating a healthy diet and making sure you get some movement (and yes, I count multiple trips up and down stairs with bulging laundry baskets to be movement) in your day than it is to make how you look and what you eat and how much you exercise the main focus of your day.

Our bodies are all different, and everyone is going to look different even if every one of those people are healthy. The trouble is, we hold up one specific body type as ideal, and not everyone is going to be able to sculpt their body through diet and exercise to look like that. In the past, women wore various types of undergarment foundations to sculpt themselves into whatever the ideal was... corsets, girdles, hoops... you name it and it was changing a woman's shape. Today, we think of such things ridiculous at best and barbaric at worst, but in some ways it was a bit more fair to assume that a shape could only be obtained through outside help. Now we assume that a woman can achieve the perfect shape through will power and exercise. If you don't have the right shape than it signals some sort of inner fault on a deep level. I often wonder which is more ridiculous and barbaric.

Which brings me to the TV show, Say Yes to the Dress. I have become bizarrely fascinated by this show. Many times it is like watching a train wreck... you want to turn away from what is inevitably going to happen, but you can't. And the whole emphasis on the notion that a bride needs to find the perfect dress (and pay a ridiculous sum of money for it) or else her life (or at least her wedding) will be ruined is so wrong headed that I can't even begin to go into why here. But yet, on particularly stressful days, I find myself sipping tea and staring at it. One of the reasons why is that I really like dresses. I like to see how they are made, I like to see the different styles, I like to see how dresses look differently on each person, and I like to see how a good fitting dress can make anyone beautiful. I truly believe that much of the reason that many of these brides fall so in love with the dresses they try on is not just because the dresses are (usually) beautiful, but that for the first time in their life they are wearing a dress that actually fits and is flattering. Walk down any street in the country and you will see clothing that, while it is stylish and in fashion, doesn't actually fit the person wearing it and is certainly not flattering. It's as if the entire country gave up using mirrors for Lent and never started again.

While this could easily turn into an rant that unless you have perfectly fitting clothes, you don't look good, that's really not where I mean to go. Very few of us have the ability to sew well enough for ourselves that we can get an excellent fit. (Though this is on my short list of things I want to learn.) And even fewer can afford to have clothes made for us. But I think there are some things we could keep in mind when purchasing clothes that would go a long way toward making us feel better about how we look.

First, not every style is going to look good on every body. It can be challenging when the current style is not flattering because often it is the only thing you can find. I see this as one of the big pluses for consignment, second hand, and thrift clothing stores. They are not as slavish to the current fads as the retail stores are. If it doesn't look good on you, don't buy it. Second, buy the correct size. Very little is standard and a size that fits in one brand or store might not fit in another. This really doesn't say anything about you, but about random sizing practices. No one is going to know that in one style you wear an 8 (though you may be tempted to wear it inside out on 'accident') in one brand and a 12 in another. It's all the same really. Nothing has changed about you except for the little number on the tag. A piece of clothing in a larger size which fits better is going to make you look better than a smaller size that you can squeeze into. If it wouldn't create chaos, I would advocate for removing sizes all together. Lastly, do some investigation into what styles flatter your body type best. There are books and websites on it and you can also just try on lots of different clothing. For myself, I don't find pants all that flattering on my body, so I tend to wear mostly skirts and dresses. I believe I look better in them and so consequently feel better about myself. Be critical (in a good way) about what works for you.

We should be thankful for our bodies, but not make them our idols. God made us each a different way because it was His pleasure to do so. Wishing we were different from what we are is, in a way, telling God He made a mistake. Make the best of what you have and play a little of Pollyanna's Glad Game if you need to.
I have a couple of new articles up at different places. The first is Homeschooled through High School:  Taking the Fear out of Creating a Transcript at Something 2 Offer

And the second is Watching Homeschooling Change at Heart of the Matter


Unknown said…
I am a great proponent of thrift shop purchases for some of the same reasons you site. It's more about finding the right thing you want and the right fit than matching the ideal on the mall mannequin. I've never really had a well defined waist. I started wearing men's jeans in high school because the high fitted waist in women's pants never worked. And it really bothered me. I've tried not to let my girls get into the "only waif thin chicks are cool" but it's very hard--it's so ingrained in our culture. As parents, I think if we do our best to encourage our kids' individuality and their natural spirit, we win.

Oh, and I do own a scale. I can be very undisciplined, and it helps keep me on track with my weight. But I only step on it once a week, as does my husband. We cheer or support one another every Friday--depending on what is required!


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