Age does not define me

(in honor of turning another year older)

Folly Beach, South Carolina

I was on Instagram one day and I came across a picture of a first time mom in a frill hem sleeveless red dress that accented her cleavage. I was no where near judging her. Instead, I was disappointed after reading her comment that told a story of what happened the first time she wore the dress. She had just given birth to her daughter two weeks earlier and attended a friend’s bridal shower. Apparently the picture she posted the first time on Instagram received a lot of negative feedback. The comments she read, from both friends and strangers, indicated that a ‘new mom’ should not be wearing a dress like that. There’s three things that came to mind thereafter:

First of all, it’s no one’s business what a new mom should wear.
Secondly, it’s no one’s business what a woman should wear regardless of her age, status or weight.
Finally, it’s no one’s business what a woman decides to wear period!!!

As a woman of two teenagers, I have spent a lot of time contemplating what is acceptable fashion at my age. But the truth is, I end up wearing whatever I want. Why should my age define me?

Which brings me to the next round of questions that surround body image…

What is body image? Is it what you wear? Is it how the material of your clothes feel against your skin? Is it the way you feel when you take a selfie?

Answer: It’s about how you feel about yourself, your body, and all these other things.

So what’s my story?

I grew up with a great metabolism. I maintained a weight of 110 lbs throughout my late teens and early 20s. I love food and trying new things. Everyone used to tell me I was skinny. Too skinny for my own health. “Do you eat?” “Are you anorexic?” If they only knew I had the best appetite of my three siblings. I was never raised into thinking that ‘seconds’ were bad. In fact when I suffered breakups growing up, my eating habits never faltered and I didn’t binge. The only difference that exists in my diet today is I incorporate more healthier food options. All of maternal uncles were/are diabetic. My maternal grandmother was diabetic. Becoming diabetic has always scared me. Between my nervous energy and variable anxiety attacks, I don’t want to worry about making a dramatic change to my diet. These days, I watch my sugar intake.

I’m a mother who’s constantly on the run. My kids are 15 and 13 years old; teenagers of today are always on the go. I work in the restaurant industry so that allows me to stand on my feet and move around during my entire shift. I’m thankful for the physical aspect of my job, yet last fall I realized I hadn’t stuck to a good workout regime in two years. Body image isn’t just about looking good in my bathing suit come summer, its about feeling fit and not being out of breathe.

Last year I noticed the cellulite that was creeping up on my left butt cheek. I became obsessed with using natural remedies to get rid of it. I had always prided myself on keeping my skin taut in my forties. How could I have been foolish, thinking this would not be inevitable? Maybe I just didn’t notice? Nope, I always check out the view of my ass in the bathroom mirror (it’s not cause I’m vain, I’m a butt girl because I’ve always had small breasts). Overall, I have been working out the last 20 years, even if the last 10 were seasonal commitments. I gave up soda when I was 15 — -talk about a saving grace. Finally, I have always believed that drinking water is the key to maintaining good skin, especially on your face.

So what happened to me?

Let’s just say this year was the year I grew up. I realized more than ever that age does not define me. I may not have the skinny straight body figure I had 17 years ago, but I actually love the way I look. Some days I am good with avoiding sugar and some days I just adore devouring the staff dessert that our pastry chef puts up at family meal. I love wearing whatever feels good against my body because it makes me feel confident. I love never having to question if an article of clothing is fitting for a mother of two teenagers. I don’t care, I just wear it. I love that I have developed a workout regime that doesn’t control my life but makes me feel good about being healthy and not out of breathe. I love feeling good about who I am because it is I who defines me, not my age or how others see me.

This is what body image is to me. Making this discovery has put perspective in my life. No one else is responsible for my happiness — -it stems from me. Once I let go of society’s definition of body image, I was able to create my own. It’s the same for everyone else. You control the way you feel about your body, no one else. Write your own definition of body image. Make it one hundred percent about you. And never ever, let age define you.