Insecurities. Those little ticks, twinges, or voices in the back of our heads that tell us we aren’t good enough… smart enough… pretty enough. As strong as I consider myself to be, I still have my fair share that I struggle with every day. My insecurities like to hide in my wobbly bits. What are “wobbly bits”, you ask? Well to answer this question I turn to one of my most favorite modern day literary/cinematic heroines: Bridget Jones.
I love Bridget Jones, and the fact that she is loosely based on Elizabeth from “Pride and Prejudice” only adds to my admiration for her. She is a woman who has her share of insecurities, but refuses to indulge in them. She struggles with them, she fights with them, and she makes a big mess, but as much of a mess as she is you can’t help but find yourself rooting for her because she OWNS her mess. We see ourselves in her, we see our own mess, and appreciate her for struggling quite publicly with the things we struggle with only privately. I specifically have always admired her for how she owns the fact that she isn’t the “ideal” body type, though I would hardly call Renee Zellweger in the movies “overweight” even if she did gain almost 30 pounds for the role. What a bitch.
ANYWAY - it is in owning her mess and recognizing that it stems from her insecurities that Bridget is able to face it, and then ultimately start cleaning it up. She takes control of her life, quits smoking, stops drinking (as much), and begins to take better care of herself… not for her parents, her friends, or for any man, but for HERSELF. She starts keeping a diary to document it all, which is actually one of the things that inspired me to begin journaling. She also inspired me to embrace wearing my tummy control panties. As a girl who has been wearing SPANX before SPANX were even a thing (I think I wore my first pair at 11 for a musical and was wearing them to parties by 13), it was really nice to see a leading lady of a romantic comedy wearing them too, and not only wearing them, but navigating a sexual encounter while wearing them, which is a personal nightmare of mine.
The film ends with her finding happiness with the gorgeous lawyer Mark Darcy (played in the films, of course, by Colin Firth), who chooses clumsy, messy, but lovable Bridget over her thin, perfectly put together counterpart Natasha because he likes her, Bridget, “just as she is”, thus giving hope to “every girls” like me all over the world that we too can find happiness, in spite of our insecurities.
We catch up with Bridget in the next book/film “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason”. She and Darcy have been together for a few months and things are going brilliantly. But even so she still struggles with being insecure about her body, among other things. One of my favorite moments of the film is in one of the first scenes. Getting out of bed she pulls the sheet with her and tries to dress underneath it. Darcy asks her why and she replies, “I don’t want you to see my wobbly bits”. She is referring to the parts of her body that aren’t particularly toned or tight… the parts that jiggle or wobble in a rather un-sexy manner. He replies with a gorgeous grin, “But I like your wobbly bits”. Upon hearing that, she feels more confident (I mean WHO WOULDN’T?!) and drops the sheet triumphantly.
Bridget Jones: 1, Insecurities: 0
I think in our most private moments, those moments when we allow ourselves to wallow in our insecurities, we want to believe we are the only one’s who have them. The successful lawyer, the girl with an amazing boyfriend, or the gorgeous actress with the perfect body who serves as a constant reminder of the impossible beauty standards this “business” holds we actor folk to… How could those people possibly be insecure? Believe it or not, they can. Everyone struggles. Everyone has his or her wobbly bits, both of the Bridget variety and of the literal variety as well. In fact, when you look up “wobbly” in the dictionary, it is defined in relation to a person as:
Wobbly: [wob-bly], adjective; uncertain, wavering, or insecure
Isn’t that interesting? Bridget had no idea how profound she was being when she referred to the cellulite on her thighs and the little pouches of fat on her back and around her tummy as her wobbly bits. They are the sources of her insecurities and by definition “wobbly bits” are just that – “insecure bits”. I’ll say it again in bold for emphasis…
We all have our wobbly bits.
But how do we deal with them? Outside affirmation is always lovely… I’m sure I’d be a hell of a lot more confident if I had a brilliant, handsome Mr. Darcy lying naked in my bed telling me he loved my wobbly bits… but it only goes so far. There are only so many times that you can listen to John Legend sing “All of Me” and pretend he’s singing to you. If you’ve been living under a rock and for some reason don’t know that song, here it is with Lindsey Stirling on violin… give it a listen and you’ll understand.
We tend to think that when we finally like what we see in the mirror, when we finally find a significant other, when we finally get our dream job, or when we finally make enough money to buy our heart’s desire that the insecurities will go away. For some this may do the trick, but that hasn’t been my experience.
My journey with weight loss has been a long one. I’ve struggled my whole life with it. As a little girl I was always “big”, but at a certain point it goes from being “cute” to “not cute” and I started getting teased incessantly. I just LOVED food… and it caught up with me. I caught a break with a growth spurt around the 7th grade and all of a sudden looked like this curvy goddess of a woman. Boys started looking at me for the first time but I didn’t get it, I was what, 12 years old? I just kept doing me… and that meant french fries for lunch everyday from the lunch truck at school and fast food every night after play practice or dance class. See it’s not that I was inactive… I was dancing 13 hours a week, but I was also eating nothing but deliciousness… fatty, fatty deliciousness. My goddess status lasted about 6 months before the weight caught up with me again. It was at that point I was put on my first diet. I managed in high school pretty well, I would yoyo based on what diet I was doing or what role I was preparing for, but I was never thin. Then college happened.
My freshman 15 was EASILY a freshman 30 that then slowly became 45 by the end of sophomore year. Before I knew it I was tipping the scales at 215 pounds. Something had to be done. I spent my junior year slowly working it off, constantly struggling, and then spent my semester abroad in London working even harder. By January 2013 I had lost 40 pounds, gained quite a bit of muscle, and then had a bad bout with Mono that knocked me down another 10 pounds or so. Thank God for Mono right? (joking) But even at my thinnest, a size 6, which is a dress size I NEVER thought I’d EVER see, I was still insecure. I still didn’t feel like I had done enough. I still felt like I was 215 pounds. Now I’m living in a range that isn’t anywhere near my 215 mark, but also isn’t as thin as I once was, or as thin as I know I need to be to “work” in this business. But instead of focusing on the former, most days all I can do is focus on the latter. I have to remind myself to look at how far I’ve come before looking at how far I have left to go. I’ve never been one for the before/after picture, but in this instance I feel like it’s appropriate. It’s a helpful reminder.
How's that for a #TransformationTuesday?
But what was all of that for? Why did I dig all that up? It was meant to be a testament to the fact that at the end of the day our struggles are ours and ours alone, people can support us and people can love us through our struggles, but it is our responsibility to navigate living with our insecurities and hopefully beating them someday.
We have to figure out a way to love ourselves in spite of our wobbly bits.
I read an article recently that spoke to this effort as it pertains to my struggle. Using the idea that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, the author suggested that people who struggle with body image should spend 30 days (for good measure) showing some love to the parts of their bodies that they don’t necessarily like. She suggested we use our favorite decadent beauty products and take a few minutes every day to pamper all those parts of our bodies that we normally spend the rest of the day hating, and at the end of the 30 days, after showing these areas care, we will have formed a new habit of CARING more for our bodies instead of hating them. I loved the idea and started immediately, except I decided not to do it EVERY day because hey, LUSH cosmetics are expensive! But even with the rationing I still ran out of my favorite Dream Cream just a few weeks into the exercise. What can I say? I have A LOT of wobbly bits. The good news was that I found some old Dream Cream in the back of a drawer. Great. Perfect. The only problem was that it was expired. “Not to worry, I’m sure it’s not a huge deal”, I thought to myself as I did the exercise again Sunday night... but I filled out a "Contact Us" form on their website to ask whether the cream was still okay to use all the same. Again, I had already been using said expired product for a week. I heard back from them today. An excerpt from their reply:
"We only use enough preservative to keep the product safe to use until the expiry date, so beyond that time yeasts, fungi, and bacteria can grow to unsafe levels in the product. We don't take any responsibilities in case customer has any unwanted reactions after using expired product. Hope that makes sense!"
Thank you, Louise. You've been very helpful. As for the rest of you, I encourage you to say your goodbyes now. Apparently I have been rubbing unsafe fungi all over my extremities and that can't possibly bode well.
In all seriousness though, even if I don’t make it to tomorrow (which would be a shame because the Bless Your Heart that I have planned for tomorrow is really special), I want to leave you with this thought because I do believe it’s a good one. Find your own way to give love to your wobbly bits. Hang your diploma on the wall as a reminder of the work you put into realizing your dream, no matter where you are in the process of getting there. End every day by saying one thing you did well that day... whether it’s as big as saving a life or as small as taking the time to make your bed that morning. Anything! Just show them love, and I promise that after some time they won’t seem quite so wobbly.
Find what your LUSH Dream Cream is… just make sure it isn’t expired!
With Grace and Good Humor,