My body has done some pretty amazing things lately. I mean, some things that I’d never thought it would do. It breathes for me when I sleep. It’s able to do an hour of cardio without stopping. It has allowed me to successfully complete a five-city college speaking tour. And, yeah, in between those good times, it’s been achy, moody, and fatigue, but it still pushes even when I’ve given up.
Do you ever take the time to appreciate your body?
There was a time for me when I hadn’t. I fully underestimated my body, my self. I fully allowed others to dictate how I viewed it, how I treated it. I policed its every move to the point of self-harm and self-hatred. I loathed everything about it. The way it spoke, the way it awkwardly moved and hid itself in the shadows of beautiful, thin people. How the light drained from it once I stepped on a scale and saw that the first number started with a 3 instead of a 1. The ‘you shouldn’t eat that’ and the ‘you shouldn’t wear that’ crumbled me to the point of extinction.
I couldn’t find one part of me that was acceptable, beautiful, worthy. What a cruel life to live. Walking around like an insecure shell of a human. That was me. For many years. An empty vessel filled with worthlessness.
How many of us are walking around like that right now? With our heads down, scanning the internet for #Thinspo and #BodyGoals. In search of the next quick fix DIE-t plan and flat tummy tea. Scrolling aimlessly through a Kardashian’s feed, pinpointing all the spots of skin with no stretch marks and wishing our thigh gaps could be as wide. Adding seventeen different filters to a selfie that we took out of a hundred selfies that all look the same. Swipe left. Swipe right. Swipe left. Swipe right. That’s my better angle. Hiding double chins and smoothing out cellulite from an app we paid 2.99 for. Comparing ourselves to the perky-breasted super-model on the cover flap of a popular magazine without knowledge that she has an entire team to make her look so ‘picture perfect’.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
I, too, have fallen into the media trap where I’d fallen so deep that I couldn’t get up. One perfect page leads to the next perfect page and I’ve found myself comparing and contrasting my body to hers. Wishing I could have some of what she had. This perfect Insta-Model has got it all. And, I had nothing at all. Why had she been so lucky?
One day, I decided to not compare myself to others. Well, not completely, but much less. It’s humanly impossible to not compare. Less is better.
One day, I asked myself what if I loved and appreciated my body how it was in that exact moment? What if I worked on being healthy and strong and built my endurance, instead of weighing myself twice a day and starving to the point of migraines? What would it look like to accept my body as is?
I hadn’t known what it looked like because I’d never seen it before. But, I was willing to try.
I started with looking in the mirror instead of passing them by. Avoiding them. I started dancing in public. Instead of dancing on the sidelines, I moved to the middle where the action was. I became less aware of my jiggly parts. Thin bodies hadn’t jiggled. So, I was always conscious about my folds moving when I moved. That had to stop. I took selfies and I posted them. I tackled my insecurities head on and exploited them instead of hiding them. I told people to look at the parts that I tried so hard to hide. I claimed those parts, no matter how upsetting they were.
Why had they upset me so much in the first place? Because they hadn’t fit into the mold of traditional beauty? My jiggly parts, my spaced teeth, large forehead, wide-set toes, and hip pockets weren’t considered beautiful. They were very much so the opposite attributes of beauty that we seen growing up.
I hated myself because everyone told me to.
But, I had a choice. And, I chose to live life with my body as it was.
Many of times we go on these rants and raves about finding the answers to life’s questions. We go on these quests to figure out the root of our happiness. When the answer is always within us. It’s there the entire time. We just have to go through the process of internal self-discovery. And, that means making the choice to do something different. Making the choice to pull ourselves out of the loop. To view it from a different angle.