There has been a lot of hoopla on social and mainstream media about a mum who posed in a crop top and shorts, surrounded by her gorgeous three young boys, showing off her body, with the words ‘What’s your excuse’ emblazoned atop the picture.
The image is lovely (they’re all in red; Photoshop in a couple of reindeer ears and a Santa hat and she could use it for her 2014 family Christmas card). But what is not so lovely is the accusatory and more than slightly judgemental text that comes with it. What’s my excuse for what? I’m not really sure what she’s asking. Is she asking what my excuse would be for not having a body like that? That’s an easy one to answer. I don’t like exercise and just the thought of doing sit ups makes me want a bacon sandwich. Also, I don’t care. And also, I don’t particularly see that I need an excuse for looking the way I do look. Or don’t look.
Can you imagine if I put up a photo on this blog of me surrounded by the things I do (family, friends, work, baking cupcakes, eating cupcakes, going to music gig, drinking coffee, writing, watching ‘House of Cards’, enjoying the latest anime movie at home with our nine year old, dancing around to Billy Bragg*) holding a lab result with an A1c of 6.5 per cent with ‘What’s your excuse?’ above my head?
My A1c is not 6.5 per cent right now, and quite frankly, I don’t look for excuses as to why that’s the case. But even if I was sitting in that sweet spot, it’s not my job to question others as to why they are not. It’s none of my business and it also promotes that ridiculous idea that as long as my A1c is in target then I’m a success.
I think of the times when my A1c has been what is considered ‘perfect’ and I know that it hasn’t signified that I’m winning at life. Or even diabetes for that matter.
When I was pregnant (with my daughter as well as other times when I miscarried) my A1c sat in the mid 5s – low 6s. But I was checking my BGLs every 20 minutes and any result above 8mmol/l had me in tears as I worried about what I was doing to the developing baby. I would panic as I waited for my A1c results, fearing a number that would suggest I wasn’t being the best mum-to-be I could.
Periods of extreme stress when I don’t eat much also result in much lower A1cs, but the stress and anxiety I’m experiencing don’t really suggest to all else in my life being great.
We can’t point to a number (whether that be a diabetes number or a number on the scales) or how we look in a crop top as a measure of success.
I am all for celebrating people’s successes. I love it when my friends with diabetes have been really working hard at reducing their A1c and tell everyone about it. It’s great news and it should be celebrated. But that’s because it’s about them and what they have done. Not about why others are falling short.
Enough with the judgement folks. You want to rejoice in something you are proud of – knock yourself out! I’ll celebrate with you. Just don’t do it at the expense of others.
*It’s Friday. Dance around to Billy Bragg!