I admit to being older than many of my readers. Aerobics was a new fad when I was growing up, and a washboard was something great-grandma used for cleaning clothes. So please explain to me, when did everyone become so obsessed with washboard abs? Why do we care who has them and who doesn't? Unless you're a model, washboard abs won't help you earn a living. They can't drive your car for you, organize your taxes, do your laundry, or snuggle with you on the couch on rainy nights.
I don't have a problem with Facebook Hottie Mommy being who or how she is. In some ways, I admit a little envy. I have never looked like that and realistically, will never come close. Most days, I could not care less. My husband doesn't care. Surprisingly enough, he values my sunny disposition, intelligence, and devotion to family over my ability to squeeze into my pre-pregnancy jeans. He might be secretly fantasizing about Facebook Hottie, but if he is, he keeps it to himself.
I started keeping a diary when I was 12 years old. My first entry read, "Dear Diary, My name is Sylvia. I have long brown hair and a little bit of a tummy." How pathetic is that? How horrible, too. Certainly there must have been more important things for my introduction. I won the class spelling bee. I got my first guitar. I had a crush on a boy named Brian. But all of these things took a backseat to the unforgiving, unforgivable, and unforgettable reality that I had a teeny tiny pooch.
Now that my daughter is almost 12, I fear for her and her sense of self. We have very few mirrors in the house, and no fashion magazines, but escaping the national obsession with body image is almost impossible. Just the other day, I took her jean shopping. Her choices were jeggings, skinny jeans, super-skinny jeans, and boot-cut. Of course we went for the boot-cut. They were too tight in the thigh, and too big in the booty, and my very beautiful little girl walked out saying, "I'm not shaped right."
Since my twenties, there was only one time that I felt 'shaped right.' I had exercised and dieted myself back down to my wedding weight. I bought new clothes and had my photo taken. On my birthday, I went all out and bought myself something sweet at Starbucks. Then I called my husband, hysterical, from a pay phone at the mall. (Yes, I'm really that old.) "Help me!" I cried. "I'm going to throw it up! I'm going to make myself throw up!"
Thank goodness, I did not throw up that cupcake, though I cried over it for an hour. Instead, I gave up dieting. Within a year, all of those beautiful new clothes were too small, and I was happy again.
Guess what? Now I'm even a little heavier. I've also never been happier. I walk at least five hours a week in the beautiful fresh air. I eat my fruits and veggies, as well as the occasional cupcake. I require no medications, rarely get even a cold, and take only glucosamine supplements for my inherited arthritis. I'm not costing society a penny by being a little on the chubby side. And yet....and yet I still occasionally feel envious of those tall, beautiful, washboard-ab women who walk by me in the mall.
Then I ask myself: are washboard abs on my bucket list? How many people, at the end of their lives, think to themselves, "if only I'd had washboard abs"?!
Everyone chooses their own dreams; it's only sad when society chooses for them. My wish for those who truly desire a six-pack is that they achieve it. My wish for those who can never achieve it is that they stop caring. Certainly there are other worthwhile goals out there, and other paths to happiness and fulfilment.