A few weeks ago I saw a news story on Tess Holliday. She was beautiful, happy, just signed a modeling contract and was a size 22. Her genuine self-confidence shook me to my core. The interviewer asked her a question about her health and she had the perfect answer: Health is a personal thing. That was it. No explaining, no defending, no anything. It was beautiful. That whole interview got me thinking, about myself, and I’ve realized I was disappointed in myself. Not too long ago I was happy and I was clapping my hands, a lot. But recently I’ve noticed I stopped clapping my hands.
I have wrestled with poor body image issues for as long as I can remember. My first memory of my body image was when I was about 6 or 7 and an aunt said to me, “If you keep eating that way you are going to be as big as a house.” There was my first ex-father-in-law who use to give me a hard time whenever I ate and was forever making fun of my nose. My second ex-husband actually said to me, “You’d be so pretty if you just lost 20 pounds,” piling on to the mountain of self-loathing I had started building. Then I started the bakery and I was so happy and excited. I was too busy to worry about my weight. I was too tired to worry about my growing buttocks. I was clapping my hands every day, seriously, every single day! When I sold the bakery for a while I was fine. Then I started a new diet and while this program is great and I was successful in losing a few pounds and about 20 inches, I found the old demons creeping back into my life. I was obsessing about my looks, and it was bringing back that feeling of dread. I was not happy; I was not clapping my hands.
I was reminded of a conversation I had with my mom a few weeks ago. My mother is a beautiful woman and looks nothing like how I would expect a 70 year-old woman to look. She runs circles around me and from what I can tell she never tires. When she was visiting, I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk with me and as expected, she jumped at the chance. She needed some exercise clothes so I gave her some that I had stashed in the back of my closet. You know the kind, the kind you have saved for eventually fitting into. She fit into them beautifully and I thought she took them with her. Later that week when I was washing clothes, there they were in the dryer. I sent her a text and asked her why she didn’t take them home that she looked beautiful in them and she said “Really? I never thought of myself as beautiful.” That comment made us both sad.
I don’t want to be sad about this anymore. I always want to be clapping my hands. I don’t want my mother to be sad about it anymore and I want her to always be clapping her hands. I am lucky enough to have a husband who loves me exactly how I am and tells me everyday that I’m beautiful; I want to be worthy of that compliment. I will be healthy and happy. I will be Me with the confidence of Tess Holliday and I will be clapping my hands every day.
To all my friends, men or women, young or old, be happy, be healthy and most of all be clapping your hands every day.
Gina DeNicola is a former Bakery owner, always a baker.