I posted photos of myself in a bathing suit on my blog the other day. Silly photos. Photos of me cutting it up with my kids at the beach.
I just wanted to share a story about how making my kids laugh is one of my favorite things.
What happened instead was barroom brawl in my head.
In my family, I’m the photographer, so there are hardly ever any pictures of me. But that day, my Step-Dad saw us having fun in the water and picked up the camera I had left sitting on my beach chair.
I am so grateful for those photos. They perfectly illustrate the story of how I put an extra bathing suit on my head to crack up my kids.
All I could think as I was inserting those pictures into my blog post was not “Wow, look how much fun we had together this summer,” or “That was a great day,” or “Damn, my kids are awesome!” but rather “OMG, is that what I really look like?” and “Are those my ARMS? They look like legs!” and “I’m turning into my mother,” and “This is stupid. Nobody is going to think this is funny. They’ll be gawking at how ugly I am and making fun of me.”
My fingers tensed on the mouse as it hovered over the “Move to Trash” button.
“You should really join a gym,” my inner critic sneered.
“You’ve totally let yourself go,” one of her nasty friends jabbed.
“No wonder that bathing suit (the one on your body, not the one on your head) was on clearance at Lands’ End EIGHT FRICKING YEARS AGO…hideous,” another blow, but this time bringing my lame fashion sense into question.
…someone else joined the Mean Girl Party in my head.
“Don’t listen to them. It’s a good story. It doesn’t matter what you look like. Remember what your mom always said: ‘Pretty is as pretty does.'”
Oooh, I like her. She’s smart. I want her to come to more of my parties.
I sat a little taller. Nobody tells me what to do in my own head, beeyotches.
“Maybe I can crop that pic differently or hide my arms with PicMonkey,” I started to negotiate with myself.
Smart girl quickly interrupted, “You could do that, but it’s a lie. When you were out there having fun with your kids, were you worried about how you looked?”
“No. I was having fun.”
“Then tell the truth. Tell your truth.”
“But…” I waffled. “Well…maybe I’ll just end with a one-liner about my jiggly arms. If I make fun of myself first, nobody else can.”
Smart girl just looked at me in disbelief, shaking her head. “Why are you so afraid?”
“People can be so mean,” I whispered.
Just then, the Grace of God sashayed into the party, looking all confident and at ease like she always does. She doesn’t wear big chunky jewelry around her neck to distract people from looking at her chin hair. She oozes cool and self-acceptance and love. She has red hair and freckles.
“Hey Honey. The answer is simple. If that was your daughter berating herself about her body, what would you tell her?” she asked.
Fingers still poised to execute, my mouse jerked to the right. I took a deep breath, exhaled the words “You are beautiful,” and clicked “Publish.”
Leslie Marinelli is a writer, wife, mother of three, amateur homemaker, and transplanted Pittsburgher in the suburbs of Atlanta. She blogs at The Bearded Iris: A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All and is the Editor-in-Chief and a weekly columnist at In The Powder Room, a global online community for women. Leslie is a BlogHer Voice of the Year, a Babble Top 100 Mom Blogger (2011), and a Circle of Moms Top 25 Funny Mom. She also Tweets like she parents: loudly and with a lot of apologies.