Mirror, Mirror

It’s hard being a woman today. (And before the opposite sex objects, although I am sure it’s not easy being a man, I can only speak to the XX chromosome experience.) We are constantly bombarded by photo-shopped and airbrushed images of women with perfect bodies, perfect families and perfect lives. At least that’s the way it appears on the surface.  And therein is the kicker…  Underneath that perfectly coiffed, painted and pressed exterior lies the heart of a woman who is beset by the same insecurities as me.

Recently, I was surprised to read a Facebook post of woman who has come into my life at time when I really needed someone like her. Christie Bricking of EmPower is positive, upbeat, dynamic. She has a kick ass, take charge, “living my dreams” attitude. And have I mentioned she has also lost 150 pounds? Frankly, I’m kind of awed by her achievements. See to me, Christie has it all—a loving family, supportive friends, a life journey that has led her to helping others achieve their fitness goals. Her hard work and determination is touching so many lives in a positive way. She’s just awesome. And you know what? She has insecurities. She doesn’t like her arms.

Until she mentioned it, I had never thought about her arms. I was focused on all the other awesome things about her. After her post, Christie came to class in a tank top, completely vulnerable, and I was even more impressed by her. What a brave and courageous thing to do and what a good example for the rest of us. And once class began, all I could think about was keeping the sweat out of my eyes, my squats in proper position and my ripstixs in my hands. Her arms didn’t matter—to me. Afterwards, when I got home, I wished she could borrow my vision of her for a while, see herself through my eyes.

I do not want to minimize her feelings. I understand them completely as I have my list of dislikes about myself as well. But I want her to know how precious her arms are. Those arms have held people she loves beyond measure. They have helped shoulder the burden of heartache and pain. They have reached out to offer a hand of friendship or a pat on the back for encouragement. And while they may not look exactly the way she wants, they are strong! I’ve seen her use them to hold a plank position. Oh yeah, they’re strong alright.

So many women feel this way about themselves. My daughter works in a women’s retail clothing store and has talked about beautiful women who are model thin sob in a dressing room over the way they “think” they look. One woman, a size 6, who had just given birth a month earlier, was crying because she was now a size 8. Hey lady! Your body just grew and nurtured a tiny human life—give yourself some credit–and time.

Last year, I went to a black-tie dinner. Since my idea of “dressing up” is wearing khakis instead of denim, I was out of my comfort zone. Couple that with other issues I have and I was a mess. I had spent nearly two hours getting ready for this event between makeup and dressing. (Yes, it sometimes takes that long, especially if you buy a body shaper that takes two people to help you wear and then leaves you bruised for days because of said application. Talk about suffering for vanity’s sake!) I was miserable and when I walked in, the first thing I see is a photographer and the event goes immediately from bad to worse. But that woman ended up being the best part of the event for me.

See, my husband told me how beautiful I looked but, in my mind, he kind of has to say that because he’s my husband. (And he said it after having spent about 20 minutes pushing and pulling on shape-wear and asking me why in the world I’d do this to myself. Why indeed?) This photographer, however, doesn’t have to say a thing other than “Smile!” When we walked up, she smiled at me and said she liked my tattoo. I had opted to wear a short dress and a tribute tattoo I have for my mom and dad on my leg was showing. Then she looked a little closer and said, “Ooooh, you have a nose piercing,” and turned to my husband and said, “Lucky you! You have a wild child here!” With that one small statement, my self-esteem rose about 1,000 percent. As sucked in and uncomfortable as I was in that body shaper and dress, I thought to myself, “Someone thinks this 51-year-old momma is a wild child.” She saw me as I wished I could see myself and it was enough to allow me to loosen up and enjoy the rest of the evening. Looking at myself through her eyes was an eye opener to me.

Women need to encourage and support each other. We need to advocate for each other and build each other up. That’s one of the many things I like about Christie, her daughter, Savanna and EmPower. I know there are times that I look like a complete goofball in class, off beat, missing steps in the routine, but they make me feel so good for what I did accomplish that I don’t dwell on what I couldn’t do.

I certainly don’t need anyone to point out my flaws and faults. I live with, and magnify, them every day of my life. But I would like to occasionally hear a positive and encouraging word. Why don’t we make a promise? Let’s promise, to each other and ourselves, to only say encouraging words and live encouraging lives. Let’s also promise to share our vision of others with them as well. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to hear that someone thinks you’re a wild child every now and then?

wild child photo cropped

This is the “wild child” the photographer saw that night. She even positioned me so that my tattoo would show in the photo!!

Here is a link to EmPower’s website with their class schedule. As Christie said after class one night, “Everyone needs to start somewhere.” If you’re looking for a place to start a fitness routine or to add something different to what you’re doing, I would encourage you to start here. EmPower Strong Link

(Disclaimer: I have received no compensation from Christie Bricking or EmPower for this link or mention. I am a fan and participant and just wish to share how good EmPower has been for me.)

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