Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lessons Learned at the Water Park

Today's post was written by Erin at Creating Little Monsters, a witty, honest, and wonderfully written blog. It's quickly become one of my must reads. AND she's Canadian! I love Canadians! I found myself nodding in agreement the entire time I was reading this - I bet you will too. When you're done, take a trip over to her blog and read more. Thank you, Erin!

We planned a trip to a water park last weekend.  You know - lots of water slides, kiddie pools, sunbathers?  So many greasy humans that you couldn't walk more than a couple feet blind-folded without audibly smacking flesh-on-flesh into someone?  Good times?

The whole week before, I was having horrifying visions of myself in a bathing suit.  Despite my attempts in the last several months to lose some of my gargantuan bulk, I still have a long way to go before looking even remotely acceptable a bathing suit.  Also, my arms and shoulders are a beautiful golden-brown that contrast with legs which haven't seen the light of day in, oh, 6 years and are a not-quite-so-attractive phosphorescent greenish-white.  Not to mention, thighs craggier than Gordon Ramsay's face that sit on top of calves that are laced with varicose veins that rest on feet that are a pedicurist's worst nightmare.

When we went to the same water park years (and years) ago, I remember the sheer euphoria as I slid faster than a speeding bullet down the slides, splashing violently into the cool water below.  I remembered baking in the sun, waiting in lines, flirting with boys.
I vividly remember that one time while going down a particularly fast slide...  the time when the top half of my bathing suit strippedcompletely clean off my body.  I tried to contain the "girls" as I splashed into the pool below the slide.  I held my breath under water. flipping around trying to restore the brassiere of my swimsuit.  I couldn't scramble quite fast enough to completely contain everything before people started to panic thinking I was drowning.  The memory of my mortification will be forever burned into my subconscious. Of course, my brain would pick that precise moment to decide to be photographic.

To fuel my body image issues even more, we couldn't go to this park alone.  No.  We went with my mother (that I can handle - I did come out of her body after all, though I was slightly smaller then) and some friends of ours.  One friend who, despite having  just popped a baby out a few months ago, looks like an Aryan goddess.  I just knew my ego was going to go up in flames like the Hindenburg. Then I read this and this and this whole blog and more.  And they made me feel a bit like a crap mom and honestly, a bit of a crap human being.  Why?  Because I'm not satisfied with my body and I care about the way others perceive how I look.

There, I said it.

I have one son, 6, and two daughters, ages 4 and 2, and of course I don't want them to ever have to feel insecure about the way they look or feel the way I do. I've decided to try to impress on them that I'm being more active and eating less garbage so I can be a healthier person - not because I want to looking good in a bathing suit (lies... all lies). I will try harder to boost their self esteem in non-aesthetically-related ways, focusing more on the qualities of their personalities that make them so special to me. I will absolutely never pressure them to look a certain way or attempt to fit them into some aesthetic mold.

I'm not sure how much it will help.   I can't remember my hippie parents ever dieting or being anything but totally secure with their bodies - though they weren't perfect - and I certainly can't remember them making me feel guilty about mine.  Sadly, I think it's something I believe might come naturally to most people, and girls in particular.

Once we actually arrived at the water park, it took me all of 10 panic stricken minutes to decide that I wasn't going to let my self esteem issues control me.  Though I was hyper-aware of ensuring my jubblies were modestly contained, I strutted around in my bathing suit with confidence.  Flabby bits and cellulite be damned. I'm glad I did.  My kids had a blast frolicking with their mom in the water.  The rest of the water park patrons didn't look twice.  My husband didn't care (well, if you must know, he was a bit pervy about my lack of modesty).  My Aryan-goddess friend didn't care.  In fact, she had a much harder time releasing herself from the shield of her dress than I did.  I asked her why?  She doesn't like her stomach. I guess even goddesses have their own issues. If I'm being honest, I'd be walking around nude if I looked like her.

God help us all ...and God help my kids.

1 comment:

  1. Amen sister! I'm pretty sure we have identical body colors...well except I'm not golden brown, I'm more of a blotchy red, freckley mess up top and see through white on bottom. Either way, who gives a crap. If there's a lazy river, I'm going in. If there's anything this girl loves, it's a water park "ride" with the word lazy in it.