As many many other women find, when you become a parent you kind of loose your identity with it. I’d lost my sense of style, opting for comfy and easy. This came with the lack of time I had to get ready and also the fact that dragging 3 kids around a shopping mall is like the worst kind of hell! My body had changed shape, which I wasn’t comfortable with at all. I didn’t know how to dress or what clothes I liked. My makeup was thrown on with the same colour palate in the same way, day in day out.
Like many other women (and men), I seemed to hang onto the whole concept of ‘when I’m skinnier/in better shape I’ll be happier/I’ll be able to wear nicer clothes’ etc etc. It’s then you realise that you’re actually living for a day which may never actually materialise and missing out on life whilst you do. How many of us have dodged photos of ourselves with our children because we don’t like the way we look in photos only to find that there is a distinct lack of photos of us with our children? What are we teaching our children? Do we want our children being drawn into the duck pout generation?
James is a paediatric nurse too (we met over hospital corners when we were students but that’s another story!) and has always worked in child and adolescent mental health. Since James qualified he had a special interest in eating disorders. One of James’ roles was the Eating Disorder Specialist Nurse at Great Ormand Street Hospital for some time. During this time James would see children (mostly girls) as young as 7 years of age in his clinics who had developed eating disorders. James is now the Director of an Eating Disorder service where we live and receives referrals from around the country.
The thought of my children being burdened with such an illness is too much to think about. Eating disorders happen for a number of reasons; life changing events, media and research now is showing that there may even be a predisposition to developing a disorder (see I do listen James!). Often, it’s an amalgamation of all of these clashing at one time.
So at the age of 40 I made a conscious effort to not place so much stock in the things that really, when you think about it, have no importance in life. My hair is getting whiter so I started dying it to cover it up. But I wasn’t really dying it because I wanted to, it was because I thought I ought to. Why? I have no idea. I actually don’t really have any beef with my hair changing colour, it’s only natural after all – so I stopped dying it. James laughed at me when I told him that I had bought dental floss as part of my ‘looking after myself at 40’ regime! I couldn’t remember the last time I had bought new make up or took care of my skin (I always slept in my makeup – shock horror!).
I was a slim teenager and 20 something but when I approached my 30’s I started putting on weight. I as able to eat what I wanted and not have to think about it when I was younger and all of a sudden that didn’t seem to be the case. So I hated the way I looked, I wasn’t ‘me’ anymore I was ‘supposed’ to be a size 8 and instead I was a size 12. I kept thinking that I’d buy the clothes I wanted when I was thinner again and then I’d be happy with the way I was. This carried on until I approached 40. I realised that I didn’t want Mabel (or our boys) growing up feeling the same way. I didn’t want the children to think that they would be a better and more valuable as a person when they reached a certain goal, whatever that may be.
At home we talk about being healthy. We don’t talk about weight or size but we talk about what our body needs for fuel. We don’t outlaw sweets and chocolate and we don’t refer to food as being ‘bad’ or ‘good’. We talk about the fact that our body needs everything in moderation to keep us healthy. We also try to place more value in the personality traits which make them them. We don’t place value in looks or appearance but on things like being kind, helpful and funny. We really don’t want our children growing up in a time where more and more value is placed on looks. Mabel has her own quirky style. She doesn’t like dresses or skirts and when it comes to parties her friends usually wear party dresses but Mabel favours a pair of trousers, a checked shirt and a hoodie. You see Mabel doesn’t worry about what her friends will be wearing, she wants to wear what she wants. I absolutely love that about her and I want that to continue.
It’s not easy changing the habits of thinking that thinner or younger are the things that we need to hold dear. I still question whether I should be a different size or whether other people notice my ever aging white hair. But heck, life is too short. Let’s not worry about what other people think, if they don’t like it then chuff off! We all need to take note of the ‘Mabels’ in life!
Live the life you want now, you are the best you RIGHT NOW!
#bodyimage #turning40 #selflove #ed #blogger