9.20.2013

And a Half

Today is the 19th. This post won't be published till tomorrow so by the time this post reaches all of your lovely eyes it'll be the 20th. Right now, though, as I type, it is still the 19th. I'm sitting here sippin' on some noodle soup with the occasional munch of ritz cracker just contemplating the fact that today I am officially 21 and a half. It's wild to think that half a year has already passed since I turned 21. It's wild to think that in those six months so much happened, so many lessons where learned, and I already feel as though I've aged a life time rather than six months. Before I know it, though, the next six months will have flown by and I'll be on the precipice of 22, and that is even more mind blowing than the fact that I am already 21 and a half. Even though I definitely feel like I've aged more than a human has a right to in six months I definitely do not feel even the tiniest bit ready to take on the stripes of 22. The stripes of 21 are just barely starting to grow on me and fit me well. There where so many hopes that I had for 21, and I know there's still another six months left for those hopes to come to fruition, but I feel like the defining experience of 21 will unarguably be the loss of a loved one. I know I've talked about it more times than you've probably wanted to hear about it but it's just one of those experiences that take indefinable amounts of time to come fully to terms with. I'd be lying if I said there still weren't memories that can't be revisited without tearing up. Either way, I feel like that experience was part of the learning process and was a necessary component in becoming the me that is 21.
I've had a few thoughts floating around my mind that in all honestly boil down to one thought: body image. Growing up, my mom always taught my siblings and I the value in loving and having confidence in ourselves. She always told us that we where beautiful and taught us to believe in that fact as well. However, she also taught us that beauty wasn't all we had to offer in the world. She always taught us to believe in ourselves and believe in the fact that we were valuable in many different ways. One of the key lessons she taught us was that in order to be loved we needed to love ourselves first. She always said that people comported themselves in a manner that directly reflected how high or how low they esteemed themselves. Kind of like that saying from the film adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, "we accept the love we think we deserve". She always taught us something along those lines, however, she took it one step deeper. We accept the treatment we think we deserve. The way we allowed others to treat us was inseparably intertwined with the esteem we had for ourselves. She taught my sisters and I that we are daughters of a heavenly king and as such we needed to have a love for ourselves that would reflect our knowledge of where we came from. These lessons instilled in me a confidence and self worth that I had thought would be unbreakable.
When I was going through the turmoil that is being a teenager, I struggled with feeling confident in my hair. I know that sounds crazy, but when you're a kid you struggle with almost anything that makes you different from the crowd, no matter how big or small. My big curly hair was my insecurity. My insecurity in my hair caused me to put an over emphasis on a part of me that I was proud of and that I felt like I could be confident in, the size of my body. I inherited my mom's smaller frame and thin bones, so growing up I was always on the thinner side and it was easy for me to stay there. As I was going through those teen years, though, I was unconsciously paying more and more attention to my weight and thinking more and more about it. I would think about how many calories I ate in a day, how much I had worked out at tennis practice, and if my weight had gone up even in the slightest. I always told myself that I respected myself too much to ever enter into the destructive cycle of an eating disorder but what I didn't realize was that the amount of thought I was putting into how much I weighed was probably just as unhealthy. Without knowing it, by focusing so much on how big or small I was, I was wrapping up my self esteem in how thin I thought I should be. I didn't realize this until the day that I stopped weighing the weight that I had been so proud of, "a buck ten". The year I turned 20 I started taking it easier with my running and eating more desserts than I probably should have. Before I knew it I had put on 20 lbs. That's when I realized that over the past 5 years or so I had been slowly mixing up my self esteem with my weight. It finally hit me like a ton of bricks, because I suddenly stopped feeling happy, confident, or even comfortable in my own skin. For almost a good year I struggled with feeling happy in the me that was 20 lbs heavier. Over that year I started trying to teach myself to be happy with myself regardless of how much I weighed. I started reflecting on all of the lessons my mom had taught me about self-esteem and used them as a jumping off point for getting to a place where I loved and esteemed myself regardless of any other factor other than the fact that I am a daughter of God. I thought I had reached a point where the way I thought about my weight was no longer intertwined with my self worth, and I embarked on the journey of loosing the twenty pounds I had gained. I took up my running more seriously again, and I tried to stay away from treats or snacks that where lacking in nutrients and/or weren't strictly necessary.
I lost the weight and was excited to find that I was once again fitting into my old clothes. Around that time, in one of my graphic design classes, I watched a film about the media's affect on women. The film delved into the affects of the sizing system used for clothing. The woman in the film discussed her distaste for the existence of a size "zero". I'm paraphrasing here but what she said was basically to the effect of, what does the existence of a size "zero" and the fact that it's something that women strive for say? What does it say about society that women are pushing themselves to be a zero? Zero essentially means "nothing". Why in the world would "nothing" be something that we as women strive to become? After watching the film I started questioning my own motives for having wanted to loose the weight, and why I had pushed myself to get back down to that size zero. When I had made the decision that I wanted to get back to my old weight and size I thought I was doing it with healthier intentions and that I had cured myself of my old ways of over thinking about my weight. While I had definitely made progress in how I thought of my weight and its relation to my self esteem the fact that I was so thrilled by fitting into size zero jeans spoke volumes about how much more I still had to travel to be in a place where what size I was had very little to do with how I thought of myself. From the time that I watched the film till now I can say that my weight is something that I don't pay a whole lot of attention to anymore. It's been a few months since I last weighed myself and I don't think I will weigh myself again until I feel confident in the fact that I'll be happy regardless of what the scale says. In terms of how much I weigh, I want to be able to think of it only in terms of "Is that number healthy in relation to how tall I am and the level of activity I do". It really is a very fine line between thinking about weight too much and not thinking about it enough. There really is two sides of the spectrum. Thinking about it to the point where you get to weigh too little or not thinking about it enough that you get to the point where you weigh more than is probably advisable. It is definitely a challenge to get to that middle ground. While I've come miles from the days when I was fixated on having to be the thinnest girl in the room, I do still get a little too excited when someone tells me I'm looking thin. I can confidently say AGAIN, though, that regardless of my size I love and esteem myself as a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father.
I never wanted to be the type of girl who valued her physical image more than anything else. That type of thinking would get in the way of something that I've always wanted since I was a little girl, which is motherhood. I didn't want to be so obsessed with the way that my body looked that I would sacrifice having kids to keep it. I also, didn't want it to be such a central part of my thoughts that when I did have kids I would be more focused on getting back to a certain weight rather than paying attention to them in those beautiful moments of infancy. There's this lyric from a band that I love that goes, "To know me as hardly golden is to know me all wrong". For a while there I had known myself as hardly golden, and I had known myself all wrong. My mamma taught me better than that, though, and I know myself and I am golden.
I know this post has already been light years long but there is one last thing that I want to share that came into my mind as I was writing this post. My sister took these photos one day because she felt like she wanted to play around with some make-up ideas she had for this mask. She made me up and we thought it looked cool enough to capture in some photos. At the time, I didn't give much thought at all to the fact that I was just wearing a simple tank top. While I love the photos and the way she blacked out my eyes and painted my lips gold, as I was putting the photos up on this post I realized that the fact that my shoulders are bare bothered me. For me, modesty had always just included keeping private areas private and making sure my stomach was covered. As far as tank tops and short shorts went I never had a whole lot of issue with it. This past year, and most especially these past couple of weeks I've been putting more and more thought into my personal modesty. I do believe that modesty is a personal thing, however, I started pondering about whether or not what I believed showed outwardly. I feel that my beliefs are definitely apparent when it comes to lifestyle choices, my behavior toward others, and the manner of language that I use. I asked myself, though, would a person really know any of this by the way I dress? Not always. I want my unshakable testimony of and faith in the gospel to be evident in all aspects of my life. I want to be able to stand as a witness of God at all times and in all places. I want my testimony and the happiness it brings me to be evident just by looking at me and that means cleaning up some of my wardrobe choices. I'm not perfect, but from here on out I want the outfits I share on this blog to be indicative of what I believe. I know that lately people have been very outspoken about the whole topic of modesty and some discussions have even turned into heated arguments. I'm not saying this to provoke any sort of discussion or argument, I'm simply sharing it as something that was on my mind and that I believe.

As always, much love!

4 comments:

  1. I read this whole post and it was a great blessing to me! Especially where you spoke about how sad it would be if your self-conciousness and your liking of having your body stay the same way prevented you from having children. Now that I'm in a place in life where having children in the near future is a very real possibility, this is something I've had to think about and work on getting my priorities straight! Of course a child is more important than being able to fit into the clothes I've worn for years--children are eternal human beings.
    Also, your thoughts about letting your joy and what you believe and stand for being evident to anyone who meets you--I think that's such a perfect and simple way to think about modesty--not getting into the whole debate that some have started.

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    1. Oh I'm so glad it was helpful!! I debated for a good while about whether I should actually post it or not, so I'm glad to hear it was useful! Thanks so much for your sweet comment Rachel!

      xx
      Allexis

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