Chatting to a mum at school pick-up this week, I was struck by how critical we can be of ourselves. This lady is beautiful inside and out – she’s a genuinely lovely person, is thin but curvy and has a head of long, beautiful hair that is quite striking.
But she sees none of that, not that she let on to me anyway. All she could say to me was how big her bum is (it’s not) and how she’s not as thin as she was when she was in her 20s (who is?). I couldn’t convince her otherwise. She mentioned it had been her birthday and when she told me how old she was, I couldn’t believe it. The lady looks a decade younger than she is, but cannot see it.
I know ageing and changing can be hard. Did anyone not have this thought when they first became pregnant: “What’s this going to do to my body – will I be fat and ugly after this?” I thought it. The words lurked with the other unspoken guilty truths of motherhood (like: ‘I don’t like this job sometimes’) – the true thoughts you dare not speak aloud lest people think you’re a bad mother.
But let’s take out a rose-tinted mirror here for a second.
No, you’re not 20 anymore (but would you really want to be?)
Yes, your body has changed – but you have had children! Yes, there might be grey hair, lumps and bumps, sags and bags, but you created people! You are raising the next generation! You have wisdom, experience and grace. You are still you, not your age. And you are awesome right now, regardless of the things you’d like to change.
Here’s how I try and beat the ageist bitchy voice in my head:
- I have a fantastic hairdresser and I never miss an appointment. Good hair does wonders for a girl.
- I throw out any clothes that make me feel less than fabulous. I don’t care that I can’t afford a shopping spree: if it makes me feel fat, old or dowdy, it goes.
- I paint my nails, wear make-up and today, even high heels just for a boost.
- And I don’t eat crap. Eat crap, feel crap. I do still have coffee, wine and some chocolate here and there, and damn well enjoy it when I do, but 90 per cent of what I eat is good for me. So I’ve lost weight, feel great and that gives me confidence that even just last year I didn’t have.
So sit up straight ladies! Be proud of you, lumps, bumps and all.
This is your life, so don’t let it slip by feeling less than fabulous about yourself.
Be grateful for the 20-year-old you were, and embrace the wonderful woman you are now. Stop comparing yourself to an impossible standard, and instead think of all your achievements.
Make some changes if you need to in order to tweak the bits you want to, but in the meantime, tell the bitch in your head to quieten down.