What Makes You Beautiful?

This post have been a long time in coming. I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking about it and trying to figure out exactly what I want to say and where I want to go with this. Be forewarned: this will most likely be a lengthy post…

One of the things I struggle most with is my body image. It’s been skewed for a very long time. I have a hard time loving me, just because I’m fat. In High School I thought I was huge. Given that I really wasn’t, imagine the way I feel about myself now. It’s not good. There’s been many times I’ve contemplated any form of eating disorder, wondering if I could really do either of the big ones. Thankfully, I wasn’t that far gone and I’ve been okay. Although I haven’t been perfect. There have been many times in my life where I’ve only ate a little bit and tried to stick with healthier foods. In High School – I NEVER had breakfast. Most days for lunch I would get a deli sandwich and some type of ‘healthier’ drink. I would then go to work and be able to not have to have dinner and I’d snack on plain popcorn and fruit punch. It’s been harder to do things like that as I’ve gotten older, but I have had periods where I’ll eat as little as I can get away with.

What’s the point of all this?

Well this month it seems I’ve been bombarded with messages about real beauty, etc. all month long. It’s been  on Facebook and other places where I’ve just happened across it.

It started with a very simple comment a friend of mine happened to make on Facebook. She is also pregnant and mentioned how taking a picture of her very pregnant body just didn’t appeal to her and as her last sentence mentioned that she was probably just weird. I was like, NOPE I know exactly how you feel. I feel the same way.

I feel fat enough as it is, but to add 20 lbs. of baby weight for a picture really just doesn’t appeal to me either.  In fact, no pictures exist for my pregnancies with Tanis & Shaylyn. My pregnancy with Lex, I took 1 and it was only because I was trying to use up the rest of my film (remember the days pre-digital). There was also one taken during an Easter Egg Hunt at my Mom’s.

Because of both these pictures, I was determined I’d never take a pregnancy picture again. Therefore with Nate & Ailey, the only pictures I have are because I wasn’t the one behind the camera and my sweet mother in law was taking pictures of happenings going on. I’ve never done the weekly photos and what not and I was debating about doing it this go around, but of course told myself no.

And it’s because I hate how FAT I look in pictures and hate that I must really have all that weight on my body.

So I was in this mind of thinking when a couple friends posted a link to an article entitled, So You’re Feeling Too Fat To Be Photographed. I read this thinking, “Oh my heck, this is exactly how I feel…” Here are some things that were stated that really stood out to me…

Seeing myself in pictures actually produces the faintest sick feeling in my stomach.”

Isn’t it amazing we can see the beauty in our best friends, sisters, mothers, and aunts without the slightest thought to their flaws . . . but can obsess for hours on our own imperfections? We fixate on our flaws to the point we shirk at any documentation that our round faces and curvy bodies ever walked the earth. No pictures to show how we LOVE, how we laugh, how we are treasured by our families. How is it possible that a double chin can overpower the beauty of a mother cuddling her child? How does arm fat distract from the perfect shot of a spontaneous hug? I swear y’all . . . how is it that we can put more value on a TUMMY ROLL than the captivating way you throw yourself into a roar of laughter during a shoot?”

I nearly left this earth with no physical evidence of the goofy, wide open and loud love I have for my life, my husband, my family and friends.”

waiting for this elusive moment where I would be thin enough (pretty enough) to have such a permanent record of me. Because, you know, HEAVEN FORBID there be any proof that I look the way I actually look.”

Life doesn’t wait until you “get thin” enough to capture it. Life is happening . . . it is happening right now and the only moment we are guaranteed is the one we are living. I shudder at the thought of leaving behind no pictures of my life with ME in it. “

Can we agree to put the value of family over the value of fat?”

Can we acknowledge that the insecurities we have in our heads will never be a part of how our children, husbands, and friends see us? Can we just please let our loved ones remember the YOU they love?”

“Your children want pictures with their mom.”

“Your husband wants pictures with his beautiful wife.”

“Your mom and dad want pictures of the happy, successful, amazing woman they raised (ok, and more pictures of the grandkids while you’re at it)”

“And if you’re thinking that high school friend on Facebook will say to herself (“wow she has gained weight”) then . . . newsflash you DID. You gained weight. Shed a tear. Read a book. Drink a Sweet Tea. Watch Oprah. Whatever it takes. Accept this reality . . . YOU GAINED WEIGHT. The truth is you’ve gained a lot of other things too (a career, a family, some kids, a house, a love for travel, the ability to coordinate your separetes . . . ) and that girl from high school is going to spend a lot more time hating on those things then she ever will on your double chin.”

“So you’re feeling too fat to be photographed? . . . Ok. But you’re the only one who notices. The rest of us are too caught up in loving you.”

Yes, I know I pretty much copied the whole article into my post, but it’s because it spoke to me THAT much. I can’t tell you how much of this has been true for me. I always look at pictures of other people in my family and I can pick out all the good – but looking at pictures of me, I only see the bad.

Being the scrapbooker I am, I know the importance of pictures and I do my best to allow my mother in law to take pictures and to be cooperative, because I know how important it is to show that I existed. But do I like what she takes? 9 times out of 10, no. Do I go out of my way to make sure I’m included in the pictures I take at certain family functions? Nope. Only if Eric’s mom is around or if for some reason Eric has our camera, am I a part of the happenings.

The part about kids wanting pictures with their mom and the husband wanting a picture of his beautiful wife always brings me to tears. I should be smarter than I am. As a kid I never thought my mom was fat. I always thought she looked great for having 7 kids. She was beautiful in my eyes. I only have a few pictures of me with my mom, but I love them. I love the one where she is 8 months pregnant with my baby brother at my Jr. High Promotion. I was so excited for that baby and I was happy to have a picture with my mommy. But again, here’s one picture where I can always point out my flaws, but I think my mom is beautiful. She is a selfless lady whose one goal in life was to be a Mom. She traded things of this world so that she could be a mother and support 7 children. 

Let’s chat for a moment about the husband wanting a picture of his beautiful wife. Here’s something else I struggle with. I am not the same size 8 girl that Eric married all those years ago. I’m now a size 14 woman with a lot of baggage. I wonder how he can possibly see me the same and how in the world he can still think I’m beautiful when let’s be honest – we’re the only 2 that have seen me in the buff and I can’t stand how I look that way?

Sometimes I feel like he HAS to say I’m beautiful because he is my husband and he feels like it’s something he is SUPPOSED to say. Or in my opinion, he’s biased. But let’s just say that it does feel good to hear those words, especially as of late.

But guess what, again I’m just stupid. I look at the photos of my grandparents together and I always smile. I love to look at those pictures and wonder what they were like in those days. Why can’t I be more comfortable and let my kids and grandkids get those same kind of happy, “Oh those were the days” type moments?

Why am I so fixated on the fact that my weight determines how others view me? It’s messed up. There are days I don’t want to leave the house, do anything or see anyone because frankly, I’m just feeling super fat and others are sure to see and feel that way too.

It gets hard at times to not feel like a complete waste of a human when I see tons of mothers around me who haven’t really gained anything since High School and in some cases look BETTER than they did in High School. Why can’t that be me?

I get the voices in my head that say, “There’s no way I could’ve been an actress these days, I’m not pretty enough, skinny enough, yada yada yada.” Not that that’s really where my life would’ve taken me, but it also stops me from going out there and trying to do community type acting stuff as well.

Why do we let Hollywood define beauty and perfection?

Another article that has come to my attention this month has been one called, “The Disease Called Perfection.” Once again a great read and here’s a few highlights:

There is a serious pandemic of “Perfection” spreading, and it needs to stop. Hear me out because this is something for which I am passionately and constantly hurting. It’s a sickness that I’ve been trying to put into words for years without much success. It’s a sickness that I have personally struggled with. It’s a sickness that at times has left me hiding in dark corners and hating myself.
And chances are it’s hit you too.”

“We live in communities where people feel unconquerable amounts of pressure to always appear perfectly happy, perfectly functional, and perfectly figured. “Perfection” is much different than perfectionism.”

““Perfection” is a husband who is belittled, unappreciated, and abused by his wife, yet works endlessly to make his marriage appear incredible to those around him. ”Perfection” really does keep people from being real about the truth.  You would have laughed, guys. She said that I suck at my job and will never go anywhere in life. Then she insinuated that I was a fat, rotting pile of crap. Isn’t she the best?”

““Perfection” is a daughter with an eating disorder that keeps it hidden for years because she doesn’t want to be the first among her family and friends to be imperfect. She would give anything to confront it, but she can’t because then the “Perfect” people would hate her as much as she hates herself for it.”

“Perfection” is a couple drowning in debt, but who still agree to that cruise with their friends because the words “we don’t have the money” are impossible ones to push across their lips.”

““Perfection” is a mom hating herself because she only sees that every other mom around her is the perfect mother, the perfect wife, and the perfect neighbor. I’d give anything to be Mrs. Jones. Today she ran 34 miles, cooked six complete meals, participated in a two-hour activity with each of her seven children, hosted a marriage class with her husband, and still had time to show up for Bunco. What this mom doesn’t know is that Mrs. Jones is also at home crying right now because the pressure to be “Perfect” never lets up.”

““Perfection” is a child hating herself because the boys at school call her fat, and when she goes home she tells her mom that school was fine. Her mom never stops to question why her daughter doesn’t have any friends, because her mom doesn’t want to think that anything might be less than “Perfect”.”
““Perfection” is a man feeling like a smaller man because his neighbor just pulled in with a new boat.”

““Perfection” is a twelve-year-old boy killing himself because he is ashamed that he can’t stop masturbating.
Stop, and read that one again.
There is a twelve-year-old boy buried 20 miles from where I sit because the “Perfection” that has infected the people around him infected him to the point that he deemed his own life worthless.”

” “Perfection” is my friend’s cousin swallowing hundreds of pills because she just got the news that she was pregnant, out of wedlock, and the shame was too much to bear. She was only attempting to cause a miscarriage. 24 hours later, she closed her eyes and never opened them again. She is dead because of the “Perfection” infecting those around her.”

So many different scenarios, yet the guy that wrote the article knew someone in each of these situations. I can put myself into at least one. The article goes on to say that there is a cure for this disease and it’s quite simple.

“Be real.”

“You aren’t the only one who feels worthless sometimes.”

“You aren’t the only one who took your frustrations out on your children today.”

“You aren’t the only one who sometimes says things that really hurt other people.”

“You aren’t the only one who hates your body.”

“Be bold about your weaknesses and you will change people’s lives.”

“Turns out some of the most “perfect” people around us are human beings after all, and are dying to talk to another human being about it.”

“Let’s not forget this quote: “I went out to find a friend and could not find one there. I went out to be a friend, and friends were everywhere.””

“Sometimes I’m sad. Sometimes I’m not funny. Sometimes I just want to be alone. Sometimes I stay at home on a weekend because I just don’t want to see the “Perfection” going on around me. Sometimes I want to drop-kick a perfect person’s head across the room.”

Again, I took a lot from his post and posted it here, but not all of it. It really is an insightful post and one you should all read and reread and read until you have it memorized.

Beauty and Perfection is what I know a lot of women are out there striving for. We get so many mixed messages on what is BEAUTIFUL and what PERFECTION is that none of us really know for ourselves and we are stuck in an endless loop of comparing ourselves to everyone around us. I do it to my little sister and to my best of friends. I’ve even found myself closing myself off from a friendship when one of them started to lose weight. I felt so happy for her, I really did – but it only fueled the hate I felt for myself.

We get mixed messages on whether having a curvy figure is good or bad. Should I be pencil thin or a Marilyn Monroe? Which is more attractive to the opposite sex and how can I look great in front of my friends?

I really do hate what the outside world and Hollywood deem as beautiful and perfect. Wanna know something I agree with whole heartedly?

I saw that and instantly fell in love with it. I have so many stretch marks, it’s craziness. Eric likes to tell me it’s cause I didn’t drink enough water during pregnancy, I just laugh and tell him to get over it. I tried the cremes to make them less visible, I’m allergic. So I will wear my stripes WITH pride!

Normally what Hollywood/The World sees as beautiful is very clear in song and movies. But when I was listening to this song again the other day (one I’ve loved for a long time), I was proud to see that some people in the limelight know what true beauty is.
I love the line, “Your worth ain’t on a pricetag, it comes from within.” It’s a message I’m still trying to take to heart. Can you imagine how we’d all feel about ourselves if we could strive to live by those words?

If I was a better person I could love myself because my Heavenly Father loves me. He doesn’t see my flaws, he sees the good in me and sees what I am capable of becoming. He’s entrusted 6 of his children to my care and certainly if He didn’t think I was a good enough person, I wouldn’t have the life I have, nor would I have the talents I have.

Why can’t I focus on the good in me and why do we always try to shut it away when someone compliments us on a talent? Or is that just me?

Another good song to listen to – by a Latter Day Saint artist:

“It’s what you give that makes you beautiful…let the light of the Lord shine through.” Seriously some awesome nuggets of advice there.

If I am really the kind of person my Heavenly Father wants me to be, it won’t matter what The World sees me as. Yes, I may be 50 lbs. overweight, but who cares? If I’m the type of person I should be all that should matter is how I treat others and how I help my children. If I’m being the type of person Heavenly Father wants for me to be, suddenly I WON’T care what the worldy view of me is. Easier said than done, but something I am going to be striving for.

I’m going to strive to see the beauty in myself, to not let the worlds definition of ‘perfect’ define my life, to live a life my Heavenly Father would be glad to see me living and being the type of person my kids can look to as an example and I won’t have to worry about what influences I might be passing onto them, consciously or not! And I’m going to start today…simple steps.

Today I’m going to share with you some of my ‘beautiful me’ photos. (This idea was taken from the blog, Single Dad Laughing, in which he asks readers to submit photos, which he then posts weekly to his blog in a segment called This Is Beautiful You. I love This is Beautiful You because it gives me (and everybody else) an incredible glimpse of who we all are. It puts a face on the awesome people coming here. It gives us a beautiful idea of the uniqueness and diversity of the followers here at SDL. More than anything, it shows all of us just how beautiful we each can be.”) These are pictures I’m thinking I never posted before and I’m going to TRY to focus on the good in each, instead of pointing out the bad…Ready, here we go…

…These two are beautiful pictures because my 2 year old simply stated, “I wanna take a picture with you, Mommy.”…
…This is a beautiful picture because we spent a fun night with family, even if we froze our butts off a little and felt totally worn out…
…This is a beautiful picture because my sweet husband is always saying goofy things and doing funny things just to get me to crack a smile…
…These two are beautiful because I was showing what I was able to do with generous money given to me for my birthday…
…Beautiful day with the family at the zoo, and bonus – I like that I don’t look that fat in this picture…
…I love my baby sister and I’m happy she’ll always cooperate for pictures for me…
… I have a 4 year old son who loves for me to hold him…
…A sick little boy and a tired little girl – they both needed their mommy and I was glad to offer my lap…
…Memorial Day, snuggling up with my baby girl…
…Little girl who doesn’t care that Mommy is stressed out and on the verge of breaking down. She just wants her Mommy and it helps Mommy hang on for just a little bit longer…
Can we all just try our best to out the voices of the Outside World and focus more on what’s inside and letting what we have inside outshine anything on the outside??? See yourself as other ‘important’ people in your life see you. I can tell from these pictures that I have wonderful people in my life who don’t care a thing about what my current number on the scale is. That means so much to me.

And let me just say, I’m not saying that if you’re unhealthy, you should continue being unhealthy. That’s not right either. In fact, what I want to emphasize is that you should be the best you can be and love yourself through it all. Try your hardest, but if your hardest isn’t as great as Jim down the street, who cares? As long as you are doing what’s good and healthy for you!
I do apologize if this post was kind of everywhere. I wanted to include so much in it, so it may be very sporadic – but I still hope it made sense and was of use to at least someone out there. Although truth be told, I really wrote this for my own good. 😉

3 thoughts on “What Makes You Beautiful?

  1. Lynette says:

    I read every word. I know I'm not exactly fat or out of shape, but I can relate to most of what you wrote…I used to weigh myself twice a day in high school. I ate normally, but I was taking dance lessons and an aerobics class and I rode my bike around. Essentially, I was exercising a lot when I had nothing to lose in the first place. When I got married, I told my husband I didn't want a bathroom scale because I didn't want to worry about my weight anymore. I told myself I only needed to know how much I weigh when I'm pregnant. 🙂 That's been hard to do and we now have a bathroom scale (to help with my husband), so I have had to stop myself from checking when I know it's unnecessary. For myself, I wish I could just be happy with how I look, too…I wish I didn't care about getting fat or way out of shape, but my whole life I've had friends and family telling me how skinny I am and I don't want my body to change, as much as I tell myself “it doesn't matter as long as I'm healthy” blah-blah-blah. I know it's healthier to just eat right and exercise moderately than it is to obsess over my body like I am well aware I do.

    I tell my husband all of the time that I wish I could not care the way men seem to not care about their weight. The pressure to look a certain way is prevalent in the media, absolutely! And as far as stretch marks are concerned, I've never really cared about mine — they are all on my stomach and behind — places only my husband sees and he's never cared, which makes it easier for me to accept.

    I'm rambling…Sorry…I'm just really feeling for you. I think everything you're talking about is in every mother's mind, we just don't always talk about it. You're wonderful, Shilo and you're a terrific mother.


  2. Adri says:

    The ONLY time I Haven't felt ugly was when I was pregnant. but I know how you feel, why do you think I try to shy away from getting my picture taken, and looking back I've noticed that there aren't many of me of in the Merchant Review's it's because I shy away.
    I didn't used to shy away when I was younger, but I do now and it's hard not to.


  3. Ashley Walker says:

    This was a great post, Shilo. I struggle with all the same things. I hate being in pictures too, but I am also trying to get in them more even if I don't like the way I look. You are beautiful and you are an amazing mom.


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