The other day I caught up with one of my students after class and we got to talking about her new, healthier eating habits. Elated, she confessed that she notices a boost in energy and that her body just feels better during her super chaotic days. *Sound the triumphant Rocky music* Yay! This is what proper nutrition should do to you. When we finished chatting, I asked her if she was heading in the direction of the nursery to pick up her kiddo because I was scooting that way too.
“I gotta hit the dreadmill,” she said.
“Oh? But you just had a KILLER class.” She really did.
“Yeah. But look at me.”
Yeah, but look at me? I didn’t even know what to say. Was she expecting me to say, “Yeah, your stomach could be a little flatter?” Or “Your butt definitely needs lifting?” Or “You should really pick up some dumbells and work on that upper arm flab while you’re at it?” When I look at this woman, I see a loving mom, a genuine friend, and a truly beautiful soul. A woman who is working toward bettering her health every single day by doing all the right things. Shouldn’t that be enough? I didn’t know what to say. But when I got home, I realized what I should have said to her.
You don’t need fixing.
The general consensus of the media and our society these days is that we need fixing. Check out the headlines of these two magazines. One is talking about machines. The other is talking about human beings.
But you and I both know it’s not that simple. Life is not this simple. The cover of this Health magazine makes my heart start beating twice as fast. The headlines hit all of my major imperfections. Some days, my belly has a tiny bulge. I have cellulite and spider veins on my legs. I have acne. And scars from old acne. And I have one more skin flaw that I only recently noticed: crow's feet.
I don’t know how I had missed it before but when I saw this picture of myself after a sweaty workout, it became blatantly clear to me that I have pronounced crow's feet.
And the internal self-destruction commenced:
Wrinkles already?! I'm only 31. Just because I've had a kid, that means I have to age 10 years instantly? Why didn't anyone tell me? Now I get why people do Botox. Ugh, could I look any more weathered?!?!?!
So naturally I bought an anti-aging cream. And I started to really concentrate on the various facial expressions I was making throughout my day, trying hard not to squint in the sunlight and exaggerate those lines. It took me considering lathering raw egg whites on my face before I realized I was being ridiculous.
I shifted my mindset. Screw that! F* you, society! Now I would embrace the crow's feet. I thought, there must be cool people out there who have crow's feet. So I did a Google search for famous people with eye wrinkles. I found a lot of attractive men.
But no woman.
Why did I feel the need to seek out the approval of Hollywood to be told that my crow's feet are cool? Who decides these things? Who decided that women’s crow's feet need fixing and why was that person’s word the definitive answer? Why am I searching Google when I can search through my own pictures of my friends? So I went searching. I had never noticed them before. So many of my most beautiful friends, inside and out, have crow's feet too.
I never noticed them before because those little crinkles by their eyes don't define who they are. And I bet you these women have never noticed my crow's feet either because they have such loving hearts. They look beyond the surface, into the soul. After looking at these pictures, now I was finally thinking clearly. My heart was no longer racing. And all it took was a look into the eyes of my friends.
I have crow's feet because I smile. I smile a lot.
I sometimes have a bumpy belly because through all the miracles of 10 months, I grew a freaking human being inside of me.
I have cellulite because I am a strong woman with thighs of steel.
I have spider veins because my grandmother has them and my mother has them and our Italian blood is so vibrant that it can’t be suffocated by skin.
None of these things need fixing. And I’m not going to let anyone or any magazine tell me otherwise.
The success of health + fitness journeys rely heavily on transformations. I don’t want you to ever confuse my eagerness to help you transform as a sign that you need fixing. If you are taking new steps to better your health, it is most likely because you need healing, not fixing. I chose to make many changes to my body and my soul in the past because I was unhappy and need healing. Being overweight left me tired. Eating processed food left me weak. Working 3 jobs left me stressed. I needed to change in order to repair a soul that was broken.
Let’s not focus on those silly little “flaws,” friends. They give us our stories. They give us character. They make us uniquely beautiful. Instead, let’s start a movement toward celebrating our bodies in all their glory. Because isn't one of the most attractive qualities of a woman her confidence? Next time you see me, feel free to tell me how gorgeous my crow's feet look. I will take it as a compliment. And I will smile even bigger-- expanding those wrinkles.