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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Healthy Serving of Vegetables with a Side of Guilt

I suppose the fact that glossy magazines at the grocery store check-out can make a regular gal feel really inadequate is pretty well documented.  I struggled with serious body image issues throughout my teens and twenties.  I also had a pretty serious magazine addiction.  Obviously, my determination that the size of my jeans and the fact that I, in no way, resembled Cindy Crawford were directly related to my worth was a more complex problem than the magazines themselves.  In any event, I grew up a little, God healed me a little and I learned that who I was had very little to do with whether or not I looked like the gal on the front of Vogue

I cannot lie and say that I don't care about that stuff though.  I still worry about how my jeans fit. Many days, I feel better when the scale shows me what I want to see and feel like a failure when it doesn't.  But, I don't compare myself to cover girls anymore.  I've come a long way, baby.  I try to focus on finding my worth in the places inside of me and how I treat the people outside of me.  The truth is though, that I love clothes and shoes and make up and purses.  Love it all.  And though I don't have as much time for magazines as I used to, I do stock up on them occasionally, especially during vacation.

So it was that as Spring Break approached, I filled up my cart with about six magazines.  I bought the Allure and the Glamour and the People, but also threw in the Good Housekeeping.  No fear of that one making me feel too bad.  I mean, my grandmom had a subscription to Good Housekeeping.  Or was it Redbook?  Same thing, right?

In any event, GH is not one of those that I figured would do a number on my self-esteem.  Recipes and house-keeping tips and this and that, right?  Then I saw this:

Well, thanks so much, ladies.  Y'all might as well have shown up in size 0 lace undies and a 34 quadruple D bra with flawless, airbrushed skin to tell me how pathetic I look. 

Let's get this straight.  We are to look at this article and determine whether or not we are thoughtful or self-absorbed or boring based on what some group of women whom we do not know decided that they perceived about a hypothetical group of women whom they do not know?  Are you kidding me?  Women have a tendency to judge the heck out of each other anyway. We get enough judging from real people that we run into in our real lives.  We do not need to wonder about how some random person in some random study perceives us, whether it's based on our haircut or our earrings or our dress size or what we serve for dinner.

I get the gist here though. Serving our families nutritious food is, unquestionably, the right thing to do.  I understand that.  News Flash, GH:  We know we're supposed to serve vegetables. We know we're supposed to limit screen time.  We know we need to stay out of the McDonald's drive through.  We know we are supposed to recycle and put on sunscreen and exercise.

Maybe I just took this too personally because I read it in the bathtub on Sunday night after a weekend of ten baseball games for three children.  I had a massive headache and could not wrap my pounding brain around dinner.  I had thrown together a grilled cheese sandwich and some pretzels for one kid and begged my husband to grab Moe's tacos on the way home from the ballpark for the other two.  Guess what?  Not a vegetable to be seen.  Not even that wanna-be vegetable called iceberg lettuce on the tacos.  I did not feel less loving.  I felt TIRED.  And then suddenly, I was reading that some group of people perceived me as boring and self-absorbed.

(Perhaps if the study by Cornell found that a hypothetical baseball mom from Texas who sits down at the computer, writes about her suburban life, whines about how cold it is in Northern Virginia and posts pictures of her kids three times a week is perceived as boring and self-absorbed, I wouldn't be arguing.  To that I would have to say, "Well, you have an excellent point there, ladies.")

Friends, how about you look to your people to find out if you're loving or not?  How about these folks:

Your husband?
Your parents?
Your friends?
Your co-workers?
Your children?*

*Depending on the day, I might take that last group's perception with a grain of salt, since I'm certain that my boys consider me much more loving when I grit my teeth once a year and take them to the Cici's Pizza buffet which they LOVE.  The mere mention of that place makes me shudder.

Here are two more for your list:

Yourself and your God.  How about we look real honestly into our own hearts with the help of the One who knows us to our very core?  With His guidance, we are capable of knowing whether or not we are loving or boring or self-absorbed.  We might need to search our hearts, we might need to do some work in there, we might need to ask His forgiveness and then forgive ourselves and we also might need to pat ourselves on the back. 

I believe the Psalm reads:  "Create in me a clean heart, O God." and not "Create in me a clean heart, O anonymous women from a Cornell University study."

Search your heart with Jesus.

Those women from that study?  Um, no.

Ain't nobody got time for that. :)

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