By Kristy Campbell
What do I wish I’d known at 13? To accept myself as I am, to learn to know my own body, to judge my body image by health not weight – and to know that self-love is beauty.
Yet, as I stand in front of the mirror this morning feeling like my shorts are a little too tight from my vacation diet of curly fries and festive cocktails, a thousand thoughts run through my mind.
“Ugh. Why did I let myself eat and drink everything in sight?”
“I like myself better 10 pounds lighter.”
“I wish I had my body from 15 years ago.”
“Where are my girls? I hope I didn’t say any of that out loud.”
I have a little secret. I have days where I think I’m fat…days that I feel overweight enough to be depressed the entire day if my clothes feel too tight. With my two girls, I do a lot of self-esteem work and continually deliver messages to them about loving themselves inside and out. But, I admit, behind closed doors, I struggle with my own self-image. I don’t think this makes me a hypocrite. I think it gives me credibility when I say I completely understand how difficult it is to escape the crush of our American culture to be thin. I am affected by it as well. The truth is, I have the same deep, dark battle in my head that so many women have…the battle between self-acceptance and a desire to be thin.
My weight has fluctuated over the years. I was a size zero when I had a jaw issue and couldn’t eat; I weighed 210+ pounds before delivering my twins; but, I’ve always managed to find a resting point at a size 4 or 6 depending on my festive cocktail intake. Through it all, though, I’ve always been a little too critical in front of the mirror.
This is why I’ve been intrigued by ABC Family’s new show “Huge.” I watched the first couple of episodes with great interest because I find it incredibly empowering that a network television show would deliver messages of self-acceptance and body love from plus-sized teens at a fitness camp. I recognize it is a scripted television show and that actors are being paid to deliver these messages, however, I was able to interview Nikki Blonsky and hear from her own mouth that she loves herself just how she is. She said that she is “just comfortable and confident in (her) body.” I’ve also seen Hayley Hasselhoff in interviews repeat the same thing. Yes, these girls are characters in a show, but they are living their lives with the intention of loving themselves at any size.
Of course, the backlash I’ve read in various media outlets is that the show promotes obesity. Critics have said that empowering overweight kids to accept themselves as they are is dangerous because the message ignores the health risks of being overweight. To those critics, I’d ask them to examine the message a little more closely. Self-love doesn’t have room for self-destruction. You could give an anorexic the same message.
As I finish getting dressed, I give myself a kiss on my arm and remind myself that I’ve birthed 5 children, I’ve run a half-marathon, I’m healthy and feel pretty good for age 45. Sometimes my self-esteem gets buried, but after a little digging, I leave my closet in a good mood, grateful for my body and ready to tackle the day.
Kristy Campbell is a writer and actress. Her column, “Saving The World One Teen At A Time,” is at Mommytracked.com, and her thoughts on modern mid-life are offered in her blog, “My Cape Is At The Cleaners: Secrets of an ExSupermom.” You can find her work at www.kristycampbellcreative.com.
More by Kristy Campbell: My Teenage Mom & Me