If I had one super power it would be to make all women love their bodies in all seasons of life. Think of how much we could kick butt in the world if our focus was not on tearing ourselves apart! Maybe I’m becoming some kind of annoying, all too cheerful body positivity lady. (If that’s the case, let me know. I would hate to lose my cynical world view.) Alter ego, feminist bo-po warrior aside, one thing is for sure — until I started working on appreciating my body, I spent most of my time hating it. Working darn hard to change it. I used to think that my problem was food. It wasn’t. My problem was with my body. It disturbed me. It grossed me out. As far as I was concerned, it was no friend of mine. An enemy to be brought down to it’s knees in utter surrender to my mystical illusions of “healthy-living” through food control and Barry’s Bootcamp. It might make sense to some of you that when I was fat I hated it. But here is a plot turn for you. I hated it when it wasn’t fat, too!
My stomach was my ultimate enemy. I was in 24 hour battle against it’s bulge. What is it about our bellies that draws our judging eyes straight to them? Muffin tops, rolls, pouches, pooches…whatever name you give to your mid- section it usually has an attachment of disapproval with it. The flabby belly can always improve. It is such a common place of thought, it should be every woman’s bumper sticker.
My issues with food have been all over the map. I am certain that they began the moment I felt that what I looked like was not enough to make people accept me (sometime around kindergarten). That is a looooong time to be confused and angry around food and your body. Like, super long. My heart just brakes thinking of my younger self, such a young spirit already being introduced to the social pressures of what is beautiful and what is deemed as un-tolerable (hello, fat shame.)
You didn’t have to be fat to know about fat shame. I can imagine that as a thin little girl, you heard someone else be called fat and that was enough to scare you into being sure you never ended up like them. We have a belief that to be less than “thin” or “fit” is to live a life of shame and rejection. That fear is what drives us. Everyone already experiences feelings of not being enough, the idea that we can at least control our weight and our bodies and avoid rejection in that arena is not only compelling but totally understandable. Why put yourself out there for ridicule if you don’t have to, right? At least, thats what we believe.
Everyone who is thin seems to be so damn happy, right? I mean, they can wear shorts in the summer and there legs don’t rub together when they walk and the idea of bathing suit season does not start to send shivers down there spine when it is only January, so they must be happy!
Want to know a secret? People who are skinny or fit do not necessarily love there bodies. They too find things to pick apart. They too strive to be more and more perfect. Stress-city!
How life-stealing is that? Imagine what you could do with all the energy you put towards self-ridicule? Loving our bodies is scary as all heck. It is just not what we do as women. We are born to feel discontent. We are primed since pre-school to compare, judge and always be at work to remain in line with beauty standards. OMG! No wonder every woman I know is frustrated around food and phobic of fat. It is our mission in life as women to be a warrior for the perfect figure and we kill our best solider (ourselves) in the process.
Desiring to be more healthy is important. Making loving choices that serve your body well is something we all should be striving to do everyday. Honoring our cravings, listening to our hunger/fullness cues and trusting our own bodies to decide what to eat and when is vital. However, it can be a hard goal to accomplish when all your focus is on being smaller. When all you can think about is having a flatter stomach, smaller thighs, tighter butt.
It is a lie to believe that being dissatisfied with your body is the driving force to a better one. The only thing you are driving yourself to is utter madness.
In order to truly have a healthy life, you have to live in an authentic freedom. You have to stop apologizing to the world for your choices (including apologizing to yourself). You have to find ways to value and appreciate your body just as it is, while honoring it with nourishing food and positive affirmations. For example, I love looking at pictures of women from the Renaissance period. All of them were so soft and curvy. It is a reminder that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder (and you behold yourself more than anyone else.). Today, we see mostly shots of either super buff or insanely thin. Flavors change. One day it’s chocolate, the next it’s Strawberry. Does that mean you hate yourself if you are the chocolate when strawberry is where it is at? No! It means you remember that chocolate is just as delicious as strawberry and has just as much of an important place in the world of yummy ice cream as any other flavor! You own being chocolate, dang it!
Be radical! Be empowering! Stop shaming and start owning who you are right where you are at because I am telling you, girl, you are right where you are meant to be!
Trust that. Love that. Grow from that.