After a day of impatience and hurt feelings, I curl up with my kids and read our bedtime story. Their heads lean into mine, small fingers curling near my neck. Goodnight sighs and hugs remind me that tomorrow will be better, that motherhood is filled with good and bad days.
When I struggle with words, trying to wrestle them from my head onto the screen, I switch tactics. I write something else. I scribble in a notebook. I copy edit and table my thoughts until later. Eventually the jumble of yarn unweaves, twisting into an intricate spiderweb shining in the sun.
My friends and I spend too much time apart. Yet as we linger over dinner, keeping our waitress waiting far too long, I remember how quickly those moments apart can be erased with listening eyes and shared laughter.
Each of those facets of my life can grow dull at times, but I have the tools to polish them, to lift myself out of feelings of inadequacy.
My relationship with my body is different.
I see the flaws each day, and my focus rests on them, picking at them, obsessing.
There are fleeting moments when I can force my mind to embrace the strength it takes to complete a half marathon, when I can force my eyes to see the progress I’m making in the gym, when I can celebrate my choice of red grapefruit over tortilla chips because of the nutritional value and not the calorie content.
Those moments are brief and infrequent.
Yet I consciously work at it each day, knowing my relationship with my body is influencing how my daughter feels about hers. I know she hears me talk about the benefits of healthy eating and sees me leave for runs, but I also know she is perceptive and intuitive, and I worry about the things I show her when I look critically into the mirror or change my clothes three times for an elusive date night.
I worry when we’re playing before bedtime, the Superbowl on in the background, and I see her head swivel to see Jillian Michaels applying body paint to a thin, toned, tan, naked woman.
Logically, I understand advertising is about titillation.
Logically, I’m aware of Go Daddy’s particular advertising format, hiring an accomplished woman to consciously objectify herself and drive viewers to their website to see an “unrated” version of the ad.
Logically, I know watching television opens our home to the messages pouring out by anyone willing to buy commercial airspace.
Am I acutely sensitive because of my personal body image issues? Does it twist in my gut because of my daughter’s growing awareness of the images around her? Am I loathe to think of my toddler son measuring women against a human mannequin?
But I’m saddened and angry and confused when I see that ad.
I have used Jillian Michaels’s workout videos, propelled by her matter-of-fact attitude about what our bodies are capable of doing, encouraged by her obvious physical fitness, motivated by her own personal weight-loss journey.
Reconciling her positive message with the ad I watched the other night just isn’t happening; no matter how I try to twist it into an empowerment message, I just can’t seem to do it.
I understand Jillian Michaels doesn’t owe me a message of empowerment; she isn’t responsible for cushioning my body issues.
But part of this journey to be enough means discovering and questioning what keeps us, as women, from feeling powerful and beautiful, so we can challenge and overcome both the external and internal obstacles to accept and celebrate ourselves.
What do you think?