The Once Over

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My heart nearly broke last week while watching my kids’ swimming lessons. Chaos ensues every week as kids of all ages swarm the pool. Some kids are brimming with excitement to see their teacher, while others are filled with fear and trepidation because they don’t particularly care for the water. Amongst these little swimmers are the tiniest ones of all, the ones who are required to swim with their mommy (or daddy) because they are so young.

As I sat on the bench and watched my kids climb in the pool and make their way to their teacher. I noticed something very audacious. Something I’ve seen a thousand times over again.

But this time it took my breath away.

As the exchange of sessions took place, I watched mom’s climb in and out of the pool, baby in tow. While others sat on the sidelines. As the moms in swim suits climbed out of the pool, almost every woman in the building “checked them out” and gave them the once over.

It was as if the moment was in slow motion for me.

Women in all corners of the building were stealing a not-so-subtle glance of the women who were a little more “exposed”. Some even glanced stared over their shoulder as they were mid-toweling off their child. And I won’t lie. I have been right there with them, analyzing and comparing, more than once! But all my eyes could see on this particular day were deeper glances from their hurting souls as to how they measure up. Or fail to.

In my heart, I have to believe here lies a very big problem.

The way we as women size each other up to see how we compare. To see if we hold a sliver of value because maybe our abs don’t look quite so stretched out and saggy in that two piece as that mom. Or perhaps to check and see if we are “OK” because the cellulite on our butt doesn’t stand out as much as it does on that lady.

In this harsh view of comparison and criticism, I tend to think we as women are not OK. We are not OK if we are buying into the lie: if only we had bigger breasts, smaller hips, less cellulite, more muscle we would hold deeper value. We would be more worthy of love and acceptance.

Everything in me wants to scream:

“No! It’s not supposed to be like this.”

I don’t believe we were designed to view each other on a one dimensional continuum. I’m more than this woman and less than that woman. I’m thinner than this woman and bigger than that woman. I’m more toned than this woman and flabbier than that woman. And this kind of criticism is the very last thing a new mommy needs when she probably already carries more self-contempt towards her post-baby body than our judgements could ever portray.

When we do this comparison crap, we take the human element right out of each woman with whom we come into contact. We steal the unique, creative design of that woman away from her and shove it in the corner. Each of us hold deeper value than a squishy or toned pair of thighs. We amount to SO MUCH MORE than our abs will ever allows us to believe.

And my heart just broke for these new mommy’s getting the once over.

Would we see other women in such harsh light if we were to look at their face, into their eyes, and smile at them? Wouldn’t our hearts tenderize and unite if we cared more about each other’s story than how we look in a swim suite?

What if actually believed we are more than what a Victoria’s Secret magazine tries to tell us we are? What if we stopped the comparison thoughts as soon as we recognized they were creeping in? And what if we INSTEAD looked at each other with compassion, intrinsic pride and understanding?

Each of us are uniquely and wonderfully made. We are strong and our bodies a gift. And contrary to popular ideas, our physical body is an incredible vehicle to carry our most important asset, which is our heart.

The bottom line truth is this:

Our hearts are bigger than a dress size.

Our stories are deeper than our skin.

We are worth so much more than a once over.

10 thoughts on “The Once Over

    1. Audi, this was so great to read and hear. You are a very compassionate and inspiring person and writer!
      Gosh, I remember this exact moment a month ago at Cadences first swim lesson! I came in a two piece because well before baby that is what I wore and really didn’t matter to me that my abs weren’t the same post baby but I felt the eyes all around me as I jumped into the pool because I was the only one wearing a two piece! I immediately left after the 30 min session and I bought an expensive tankini because I was so embarrassed that I would even dare come to my child’s swim lesson in a bikini! But I guess I was guilty too because I just wanted to look more Mom like because I believed the lie that I wasn’t a great mom because I didn’t exactly look like one at least that’s what I thought. I guess basically all I’m saying is I remember those piercing looks and I agree with the smile and compassion for each other means soooo much more than our physique! Thanks for this!

      1. Thank you Candace for your words! I so appreciate you sharing your own experience. And good for you for rockin’ that bikini without a thought (that speaks volumes about your confidence)! It is so easy for all of us to get sucked into the lies, shame and insecurities. I really wish we could see women -as a whole- pulling together and supporting each other rather than causing each other more pain. We need a tidal wave of grace to pour over us in regard to how we view our bodies – and that’s even without other’s opinions weighing on us! Much love to you Candace!

    2. You are so tender Kristin… and so is your story. As women, we need a tidal wave of grace for ourselves and each other when it comes to our bodies. Much love to you tonight!

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