The world is full of people telling us that we’re not perfect — that our supposed flaws make us ugly, less desirable, less employable, less feminine (or masculine), less lovable. We’re inundated with people telling us what we should do or be or say or like. But sometimes the world is dumb. Because, you know what? We are all amazingly special wonderful people — not in spite of our “flaws” but because of them. There are a lot of things that I should hate when I look in the mirror. But I don’t. I maybe don’t love everything about myself. But I embrace it because it is part of me. And, darn it, I’m pretty special.
Just a few of these “imperfections” that I think are perfectly perfect:
My jiggly belly skin (aka the permanent muffin top): I’m sorry, but this is not going away so I might as well embrace it. And embrace it I do. I laugh at it. I look at it in the mirror when I’m just out of the shower. I show it off — because a lot of people are curious (nervous) about what happens to stretched-out skin after losing 100 pounds. I play with it. I smile when my 3-year-old nephew pokes me and says, “You got jiggly bits?” That doesn’t mean I love the way it looks. I mean, it always hangs over my pants — no matter what they are. It keeps me from wearing some shirts because it just doesn’t look right. But it is a part of me. And to love me, I must love this. Besides, it is a very real part of my journey over the past 13 months — the 13 months during which I feel I’ve really come to know, love and appreciate me and my body.
My stretch marks: This is, obviously, very much related to my jiggly skin. My stretch marks aren’t going away. They represent the person I’ve been over the past 29-1/2 years. They’re like a road map of my life and represent my struggles as I grew literally — and figuratively — into the woman I am today.
My giant calves: I will admit, I do not love my calves. But, I do not hate them. I am learning to appreciate them because they carried around my obese body for so long without any complaints. And now they help me run and jump and skip and climb stairs. Plus, the muscles that pop out of them when I’m working out are, like, totally awesome!
My soup coolers: Ahhh … my soup coolers, aka bat wings, aka Jell-O arms … These saggy arm bits have come to be a source of humor for me during sessions with Trainer 2.0. I mean, come on, they’re like built-in air conditioning units when I’m punching the punching bag or jumping rope. But, really, as I work on building the muscles up under my skin, the soup coolers are becoming less dangly. I know nothing will ever get rid of them, so I smile and forget about ‘em, knowing that in the grand scheme of things, they are perfectly insignificant.
My freckles: OK, seriously. I love, love, love my freckles! I love how they show up after just a few minutes in the sun. I love the way they make me feel special. I love that every time a new one shows up it changes the landscape of my face. And I love that Amor calls me “Pecas” (Spanish for freckles).
My super-thick eyebrows: Seriously, you all, I have to get these suckers waxed every 7 to 8 days or I turn into a mountain man. It’s frustrating and not super cheap, but I love that I don’t ever have to use an eyebrow pencil. And I love that they really bring attention to my bright green eyes (which I also love, by the way). And I love the way they remind me of my dad and my brother. Sometimes if I look at myself just right, I see a little of them in me. And that makes me smile.
My scars: I have scars from bike accidents, gall bladder removal surgery and fights with my sister. They are all signs of where I’ve been and what I’ve done. They are part of my story just as much as they are part of my body. I don’t worry about using scar-erasing creams or magic potions because I like knowing my history. And these scars represent that.
Don’t get me wrong, just because I don’t hate these things doesn’t mean I shouldn’t take care of myself and work to be the best version of myself possible. I (am learning to) love myself just as I am. And because of that, I continue on this journey of improvement — because I’m worth it. I believe you can like yourself just as you are while working to improve yourself. By admitting that you want to be a better version of yourself, you’re not saying you don’t like yourself. You’re saying “Self, you are worth this. You deserve the best I can give you.” And so you get up. You go to the gym. You eat the right foods. You pass on that second glass of wine. All the while, looking in the mirror and smiling. Because, by golly, you rock.
And, to all you men and women out there who think there are parts of you that are sick or gross or nasty or ugly: Remember that you are special and amazing and these things that you think make you ugly really make you beautiful and a truly one-of-a-kind person. A person this world would be so sad without.