Thursday, December 30, 2010

Let's Discuss Gifts From Spouses and Body Image

A few days ago, right before Christmas, I wrote a post here about Christmas gifts from Michael - about how once, several years ago, he gave me sweats for Christmas a few months after Joey was born, and how that made me feel, and about how I knew that he had gotten me something from Victoria's Secret this Christmas because I stumbled upon the charge when I was doing our online banking, and that I was not happy to know that there would be something under the tree for me from Victoria's Secret. I took the post down because Michael was understandably hurt by it - mostly by my criticism of a gift from him that I hadn't even received yet. The sweats he gave me that long-ago Christmas have become something of a joke - I know he meant well; after all, I do like to wear sweats! But his giving them to me for Christmas just made me feel frumpy and unattractive. What was he thinking?!

Anyway, so you would think that in light of that - of complaining about getting sweats for Christmas and feeling unattractive because of it - I would be happy to receive something from my husband from Victoria's Secret. After all, shouldn't it elicit the opposite response from the sweats? You would think so, huh?

But, sadly, that is not the case. As soon as I discovered that charge to VS and realized that he had gotten me something potentially sexy, I was bothered. Upset. Why? Because I know I'm not built for anything from Victoria's Secret anymore. Michael clearly disagrees. I should just run with that, shouldn't I? It bothered me, though, that even knowing full well the body image issues I have, he would get me something that he should know I'd never feel comfortable wearing.

(And this brings up a question: when giving a gift to someone, is it better to give them something you know they would like to have, or to give them something you, the giver, want them to have?)

About a year ago, I wrote this post: A Mother's Body. I wrote about the changes my own body has gone through in the course of having six kids, and just in getting older. I vowed to make peace with what my body has become, and let go of the self-loathing I've developed.

I've failed. Utterly and completely.

It's funny, because in some ways, I like myself better than I ever have before in my life. I like the person I am; I know I have good qualities, that I am worthy of the people who care about me (it's taken me almost a lifetime to get to this point), that I do good things and make other people feel good. I also recognize my shortcomings and try very hard to be honest with myself about them.

So in that sense, I'm good, I'm square with myself. But this whole body image thing? Eh. I don't like the way I look. I don't like that I have such a hard time finding clothes that fit and sufficiently camouflage my flaws - most notably my tummy. I am at an ideal weight for my build, so it's not the weight. It's just the fact that five pregnancies have pretty much ruined my belly. It sticks out and sags and I hate it. Despise it. It's become a habit of mine to check out other moms' figures - does her tummy stick out like mine? How does she carry herself? Does she seem as self-conscious as I feel? And how does that bitch have such a flat stomach when I know she's got four kids? I have become more and more fixated on the idea of getting a tummy tuck - well, really, a "mommy job" - a tummy tuck and a boob lift, because these boobs are in pretty sad shape as well.

I try to analyze this whole thing with a rational mind. Where do these feelings come from? Is it fed by our culture and the ever present quest for perfection? Is it just me having a hard time watching my youth fade?
And then there's the guilt. Why the hell am I so preoccupied with this? What place does such silly vanity have in my life when considered in the context of real medical issues that have become a part of reality for our family? And it's not like we have several grand laying around just waiting to be spent, nor is it realistic to think that what I understand would be quite a grueling recovery from such a surgery would be something our family could deal with.

So, I'm stuck. Obviously the most practical option is to just find a way to be okay with myself as I am. So far, I haven't discovered the key to doing that.

And I hate this post. Because it sounds whiny and shallow. But there you have it. One of the many topics that resides in my head.

1 comment:

Carla said...

Not whiney and shallow.
Real and honest and understood by every mother out there.