I understand that battle. My first reaction (usually knee-jerk) upon seeing my loose skin is an eye roll. Then in the same breath, I remind myself that, overall, I’ve done a damn fine job of improving my entire body. I’m not going under the plastic surgeon’s knife, so my flabby bits of loose skin are pretty much permanent. Deal with it, Haraldson.
Lucky me dealt with it twice in the last 24 hours.
After several attempts at repair, my Oprah elliptical was declared dead a few months ago. Thanks to a good warranty, two fit young men brought me a replacement elliptical today. (Hopefully one that’s new and not refurbished.)
One of the guys saw my photos from the Oprah show on the wall in my office/gym. He asked me about it and I said I’d lost some weight. He asked how much and I told him. As he said “Wow, congratulations!” his eyes glanced over to my arms. I was wearing a very short-sleeved t-shirt, one that doesn’t hide the faded stretch marks on the underside and flabby bits of loose skin.
Thanks to a long winter, it’s been five months since I’ve worn a t-shirt in front of anyone outside my gym, and for a split second, I felt self-conscious. It didn’t occur to me that maybe when he looked at my arms he saw biceps and triceps that have more than seen the inside of a gym. Nope. I immediately assumed he was thinking, If she lost THAT much weight, she has to have loose skin. Yup. Look at that hanging there under her armpit. Yuck. It’s disgusting. She should put on long sleeves. As part of my goal to rid myself of these negative thoughts, I took photos of said skin in today’s t-shirt. I tried to look at them as an outsider. I thought, What if one one of my readers or friends has arms like this? How would I react? And the god’s honest truth is, I probably wouldn’t notice, let alone care.
So the question I is: Why don’t I look at my own body through these same eyes?
The jury’s still out, but at least they’re in thoughtful negotiations.
Skin scenario #2.
Ask my 18-month-old granddaughter, “Where’s the baby?” and she’ll lift up your shirt. Her mom is due with g-baby number 2 in 7 weeks and so to prepare Claire for her new brother or sister, Cassie and her husband tell Claire there’s a baby in Mommy’s belly. Only Claire thinks EVERY belly is a baby.
As Claire and I snuggled together yesterday after her nap, my daughter asked her, “Where’s the baby?” Claire lifted up my shirt, revealing my loose, soft, stretch-marked belly just above my jeans. This made Claire very curious and me very nervous. She dug her little baby fingers into the folds and pinched them gently. My first reaction was disgust. I can’t let my granddaughter play with my belly skin! Ew!
But Claire doesn’t know it’s belly skin. She doesn’t know I had two children, lost a million pounds over and over, or what else my stomach’s been through. She thought it was soft and pliable and fun, as much a part of her Grammy Lynn as her nose, eyes or hair. And so I let her roll it between her fingers. And it was liberating in a weird way. As I said, the jury’s still out, but thoughtful.
It’s not like I’m going to wear a bikini in public now or short-cropped tops. I’m still modest and self-conscious. But a little bit more acceptance seeped into my psyche yesterday and today; a little more softening of my loose skin intolerance.
I readily acknowledge that there’s no smooth transition from eye roll to acceptance. Perhaps the everyday mindfulness of this battle will some day render loose skin a non-issue. I’m working toward the day when upon seeing my loose skin I see just me and there’ll be no eye roll, no need for reminders, and no forgiving.
The photos are probably TMI and I’m sure they’ll find their way into some “Lose Your Loose Skin” cream or miracle pill scam on the Internet, but for now, it’s cathartic to say, “Here’s what it looks like.” To me, it’s not as scary as my head makes it out to be.
The jury’s still out.
Here's a happier photo of Claire petting our 12-year-old puppy Jake. Golden Retrievers are perpetual puppies. Remember, there's loose skin lurking under that shirt and above those jeans! LOL