Yesterday I posted a flash fiction piece titled “She’s Got Style.” This week will be a week about the body, and loving the body you’ve got. Come back on Friday to read my #1000Speak post about bullying. It will also touch on body image and sizeism.
Women undergo a lot of body scrutiny no matter what their size, and most of us are our own worst critics.
I know I have been. I remember being a size 4 and calling off a night out with my girlfriend because I felt I was too fat to go out. It sounds ridiculous to me now, but it was a huge tragedy to me back then.
When I was in art school, I did a series of self-portraits, and one male student told me I was egocentric and vain. I didn’t understand him then, but I now realize what he was trying to tell me. I didn’t think of myself as beautiful. In my mind, through those photographs, I was exploring mythology. To me it had nothing to do with looks or even confirming my beauty. I believed my looks to be neutral and therefore perfect carriers for my explorations. He disagreed. He only saw egoism and vanity, because he saw me as beautiful.
I’ve spent much of my life disliking my body, treating it badly.
The turning point for me was becoming a mother six years ago. I realized that my body has some pretty cool capabilities. I can sustain and give life. I can feed my child with my body once it is born. That is some amazing stuff.
I didn’t want my son to see me as someone who isn’t confident in my body. I wanted him to see me as someone who loves herself, so he could learn to love and respect women and their bodies.
I’ve been working on it, and here’s what I’ve figured out.
Why should you love your body?
- Your body can do some amazing things. (Cross out those that don’t apply.)
- It can run a mile in 7 minutes.
- It can give life.
- It can lift 125 lbs. easy.
- It can do some jumping jacks.
- It can do one pushup.
- It can do a hundred squats.
- It can carry all the groceries.
- It can get you from point A to point B.
- It’s been with you all your life. Your body’s been with you through it all, all that you’ve been through, and all that you’ve put it through. The rigorous workouts to get it into shape for that weekend with the new boyfriend. The fasts. The diets. It’s still with you. Your body has been your vessel, and you still need it.
- Your body is you, and you deserve love. Let’s get real here, you did all the above things. You and your body are one and the same. It isn’t some separate entity. You are not just a talking head attached to your body. You are your body. You should treat your body the way you should be treating yourself – with love and respect.
You’re convinced you say. Now what do I do? Below is my 5-step plan to loving your body.
The 5-step plan to loving your body
- Stop the negative criticism.
Remember: your body can do some amazing things. Also, no one is perfect, because perfection is boring. BORING!
Take the time to train yourself to say positive things about yourself and your body. Instead of saying, “My thighs are fat,” say, “I can do one hundred squats.” Give those thighs a loving massage and thank them for serving you so well.
I don’t like my belly, so I focus on how it nourished and housed a baby for 42 weeks. I try to treat it gently and with love and give myself massages often. Now, when I look in the mirror and I see the roundness and stretch marks, I smile. That’s where my son lived.
- Throw out your Vogue.
Ditch those magazines and other media that make you feel not good enough. You are good enough. You don’t have to look like Kate Moss. You just need to look like you, and feel good with yourself no matter your size. Don’t get caught up with the recent trend or body part shaming going on in social media.
You can live without a thigh gap, trust me. And you’ll be happier for it. I had a thigh gap in high school. It did absolutely nothing for me. Absolutely nothing.
I used to read fashion magazines religiously. Once I stopped, I realized what a negative effect they were having on my body image.
- Start talking positively.
This may sound cheesy, but please just give this a shot. It really works.
Go stand in front of the mirror. Look at yourself, really look at yourself. Make silly faces. Make ugly faces. Grunt.
Now, look at yourself and say, “You are beautiful. You are loved.”
At first, you probably won’t believe it. I sure didn’t when I first started. Keep doing it every day anyway. In six months (or three or maybe a year, if you’re a tough case), you’ll look at yourself, say you are beautiful, and you’ll smile, because you’ll know it’s true.
I remember when that first happened to me a few months ago, I was floored, and I cried. You know what, I am beautiful, and so are you.
- Notice the little things.
While you’re telling yourself that you are beautiful, take a good look at yourself, and notice the little things.
Your beautiful hair that seems to always know what to do.
Your gorgeous full-lipped smile.
Your eyes that remind you of your grandmother.
Your strong arms.
Your round butt.
Your eyebrows that define your face so well.
Whatever it is that you notice, focus on that.
- Stop focusing on your body so much.
OK, you are your body. Your body is your vessel that allows you to do things. You are so much more than just a body, though.
You do all these great and amazing things.
You bake cake like nobody’s grandmother.
You come up with the most fun activities for your children.
You can break out some moves on the dance floor.
You are an excellent lover.
You are successful at your career.
You are accomplished. Celebrate.
Did I miss anything? How do you love your body?
Come back Friday to read my #1000Speak post.