Weighty Matters

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Reducing Self-Criticism

on August 24, 2013

I’m going to post a really crappy photo.  That’s not a judgment of me.  The quality of the photo is crappy because I took it of a mirror image of myself in low light with my phone.  Here goes:

Mirror picture

Sorry for the lousy quality of the shot, but I didn’t think of this blog post topic until after I was already home from the community function I attended this evening. If I’d thought of it sooner, I would have had someone else take a decent shot. Anyway, onto the reason.

I bought this dress and found the hot pink shrug when I went to Ross some weeks back. I loved the colors and the fit and thought it would be great in my wardrobe. Plus it was on sale for a ridiculously low price which fit with the overall plan to not spend a lot of money on clothes while I’m still losing. When I tried on the outfit in the store, I almost didn’t buy it because the sleeves on the shrug are sort of short and my upper arms are really showing their flab and wrinkly, saggy skin. I do not wear sleeveless tops. Most of the time, if I’m around other people when wearing a bathing suit, I also wear a sun protection shirt or rash shirt. Some of that is to guard against excess sun, but mostly it’s because I don’t like how my upper arms look.

Even though I was unhappy with showing too much upper arm, I still bought the dress. Ever since I’ve looked for a pink shrug with longer sleeves, but I haven’t been successful with that quest.

Tonight when dressing for the event, I almost selected a different outfit, but the colors and pattern on this dress made me smile and I really really wanted to wear it tonight. I put it on and drew on the shrug. Honestly, it was like all I could see were my arms and I wasn’t happy. I looked straight on, then to the side. I even went to a couple of different mirrors. It felt like my upper arms flashed a message that said, “Look at us! Look at us! We’re hideous. Look at us!”

I was thisclose to taking off the dress and putting on my second choice, but all of a sudden I got really pissed off at myself. I see plenty of women down here wearing tank tops, bathing suits, or sleeveless outfits with upper arms that are much larger than mine. Trust me. Their arms aren’t the first thing I notice, and when I do it’s never with the thought of, “Holy crap. That woman has arms like a ham. She’s brave to go sleeveless.”

Nah. I only direct that sort of thinking at myself.

Before I could change my mind and my outfit, I said the hell with it and walked out of the bedroom. I was going to the event in this outfit, short shrug and arms be damned.

From the time I picked up my boss/friend to the moment we left, saying goodbye to people we knew at the event’s end, I didn’t hear one negative comment or see anyone recoil in horror. All I heard were compliments on how pretty I looked, how great I looked, how much someone loved the outfit — all 100% positive. If anyone noticed the part of my upper arms that showed beneath the shrug sleeves, they didn’t mention it. I’m pretty sure that nobody cared. If they gave it any thought it all, it might have been, “Wow, she’s lost so much weight, she’s a little saggy in some places.” Honestly, I think the only person it was an issue for was me.

I didn’t worry about it at the event. I certainly didn’t obsess. Instead I just enjoyed myself, hugged a lot of friends, spoke with several acquaintances — you know, all that regular interactive stuff people do at such events. It was a fun evening.

On the way home I took a few moments to bask in the afterglow of the compliments. That’s when I thought of using the experience as a blog post and decided to take a photo when I got home so you could all observe and give feedback.

My takeaway message from all of this is that even now, I am my own harshest critic and when I think negative thoughts, it’s a good indication that I’m not being objective. I can do better. Moreover, I owe it to myself to keep working on reducing this form of self-criticism. It serves no healthy purpose. I can foster much more positive reactions to my changing, evolving body and build on them for the future.

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6 responses to “Reducing Self-Criticism

  1. Hope says:

    You look fabulous! I think you should wear more things that make you smile. 🙂

  2. Nan says:

    I’m not anonymous–I’m me! Nan Reinhardt! Not sure how that happened, but I’m me, Mary!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Good for you, Mary! That dress is fabulous and you look fabulous in it! I do the same thing–what I see in the mirror is never what other people comment on…we are so unkind to ourselves. Why? I do it about my body and about my writing…I’m so much harder on me than I’d ever be on anyone else in the world. I’m turning 60 next month and I’m promising to be kinder to me…I deserve kindness, especially from myself. Hugs, baby!

  4. Susanne says:

    Yup. We need to be kind to ourselves — like we are to our friends.

  5. Skye says:

    I completely understand that double-standard: “It’s okay when other people X, but it’s not at all okay for me to!” And yet, as you noticed (and realized), people look at us for that about as much as we look at them for it, which is not at all, whether it’s wrinkles or saggy skin or big arms or pointy noses. While I cannot see your arms in the photo, I can see the smudge of colors and I image that they look terrific on you, which is all anyone else saw, too (besides your glorious smile and your beautiful eyes, of course).

    Good for you for not giving into the harsh self-critic! And for not obsessing, and for accepting the compliments at face value and all the rest of it. You are doing so fabulously at the mental-changing aspect of your weight loss that I thinks it’s just going to get easier and easier. You may always be an “addict” in regards to food, but like one of my good friends who is a recovered alcoholic, it will be an addiction that you are master over, rather than the other way around.

    Cheers for you!

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