Blizzards and Accomplishments

It was the annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show last week.  Not sure if you watched it, but I did, as I do every year, and this was my view:

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Yes, those are DQ blizzards.  And yes, I realize the irony of watching women with 2% bodyfat parade around in lingerie while downing 800 calories in a single go.  And that’s why I did it.  Because I am about enjoying the simple things in life, like couches and ice cream with my husband.  Because I will never be a Victoria’s Secret model.  Because my body-image has shifted ever-so-slightly over the years.  Because I love blizzards.

I’ve written about my personal struggles with eating disorders, so this isn’t a surprise to many of you.  But the surprising part to me is how my thinking has shifted away from my own struggles, and onto changing those  future struggles for my daughter.  As a mother, I’ve become much more aware of the images that bombard our young girls.  I can now see the damage that photoshop and magazine covers and yes, Victoria’s Secret fashion shows, can do.  Most of us will never be 6 feet tall.  Most of us will never weigh 110lbs.  And yet, skinny is still lauded and valued and praised.  As is height.  And blond hair.  And blue eyes.  And the thing is, I actually have a few of those qualities.  But I don’t have the skinny.  And so my body-dysmorphic thinking only focuses on that.

But instead, I have the strong.

This is a relatively new world for me.  A world where strong is praised and skinny is secondary.  A world where how much you can lift, how fast you can run, how high you can jump, are more important measurements than your 36-24-36.  A world where you can work hard, reach your goals, and keep striving for more.  Where accomplishments are calculated against your own personal bests rather than against external factors that you cannot control.

My three-year-old daughter proudly dressed herself yesterday morning.  When she was done, she went running to find her big brother.  “Look, look,” she squealed, “Look how beautiful I am!  I got dressed all by myself!”  Can you see why her statement is so magical?

Because she measured her beauty based on her accomplishment.

Brilliant.  She thought she was beautiful not because of how she looked, but because of what she could do.

And I’m going to do everything I can to keep it that way.


Girls: Meet Tara. Meet Jenny.

I have just become aware of a wonderful new observance put forth by the United Nations, called “International Day of the Girl Child“.  This year’s October 11th commemoration focused on “innovating for girl’s education”.

Girls, let me introduce you to two remarkable women, one of whom is my cousin (Tara), and the other I went to High School with (Jenny).  I hope that these examples of smart, strong, exceptional women can be an inspiration for you, as they are for me.

Meet Tara.

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Yesterday, she was elected Mayor of Red Deer, Alberta.  She’s 35.  She’s been a Red Deer City Councillor for three consecutive terms, the first of which occurred when she was just 26.  She is a leader, an innovator, and an incredible example of believing in yourself.

Meet Jenny.

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She’s a Pediatric Neurosurgeon.  She’s also 35.  She’s the first woman ever to graduate from the University of Alberta’s Neurosurgery program.  She is smart, she’s a hard worker, and she has climbed her way through a vastly male-dominated profession.

So I’ll say it again, girls.  Meet Tara.  Meet Jenny.  Now be like them.  Get an education, be your best, follow your dreams.  Oh, and dream BIG.