Hi Friend! So I posted this article a few months ago on a friend’s blog, but I’ve been feeling some body-hatin’ coming from some of the strongest, most beautiful, passionate, and amazing women I’ve ever had the privilege to call friends, so I wanted to send out a little reminder that you need to stop being so hard on yourself.
How would you feel if someone spoke about your best friend the way you may often be talking to or about yourself? I think you’d be pretty pissed and give them a good what-for! (I’ve never really known what that means exactly, but I find it to be a delicious turn-of-phrase!).
I think it’s great to receive a gentle reminder every now and then to treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion you often reserve for others. So without further ado, here it is!
The other day a very dear and beautiful friend asked me “How often do you think a woman should be thinking about her weight?” My response was immediate and vehement “Little, if at all,” I responded.
“Oh,” she replied. “I think about mine all the time. And I don’t know how to stop.”
Her response profoundly saddened me. This is a woman who is smart, powerful, funny, beautiful, and a passionate feminist. Yet the ideal of a perfect body and its relation to her self-worth has been so ingrained in her psyche, that she puts a significant amount of time and energy into thinking about, obsessing over, and trying to change her body and weight to fit this standard of beauty.
Though this article was sparked by a specific incident at work, I’m speaking more broadly about many people in our culture who have been damaged by this cult of the ideal. You most likely have been conditioned since you were old enough to notice you had hips (and it just keeps starting earlier and earlier) to think that unless you have the perfect body to go with your killer brain and wicked sense of humour, then you are in some way lacking.
Well friend, I’ve had enough of this horseshit. I’m tired of people thinking that their bodies are the enemy. I’m tired of seeing myself and the people I love punishing our bodies and our minds with abhorrently restrictive diets and backbreaking workouts all in the quest of the perfect 36-24-36.
I personally don’t think most bodies are meant to have six packs and perfect thighs and perky bums. Yes, some folks are genetically predisposed to that sort of figure and they should certainly be allowed to celebrate their bodies, but not at the expense of the perfectly healthy and vibrant people who are told they are too much. Too much personality, too much thigh, too much stomach, and too much booty.
Hear me roar world! I’m no longer going to apologize for the jiggle in my thighs. These babies are friggen amazing. Not only do they propel me down mountains with grace… well, they get me to the bottom anyway ;), but they also take me on woodland adventures, paddle me through the water, support me in tree pose, and help me dance until I can’t breathe.
So what if they’re not perfectly slender and toned with that ever elusive thigh gap all women are supposed to have (which is complete and utter bullshit btw). I don’t think that makes a lick of difference in their ability to do all the wonderful things I ask them to do.
And same goes for my booty. I have never been and will never be a size 2 (well I was once, but damn was that a lot of horrifically hard and punishing work), and that’s ok. This size is completely natural, healthy, and attainable for some women and that’s amazing. But me? Not so natural, not so healthy. I need some jiggle to my wiggle to help me stay warm in winter, support me if I’m sick, and if I someday decide to have a baby, nourish and support that tiny, beautiful little alien. Why would I starve and punish my body to attain some dude’s fantasy of the perfect body when I am already perfect to myself?
I love my body. It wasn’t an easy journey to get here, but there are a few things I did along the way that I think can help many folks who are struggling to see the beauty and wisdom inherent in their beings.
One of the biggest things I’ve done to change the way I feel about my body is to hang out naked as much as possible. Seriously, ask my sister and she will attest to the fact that when we lived together I was naked as much as company dictated. And I still sleep naked every night.
I run my hands over my tummy, hip, and thigh “lumps” and feel their softness and their beauty. I make my own moisturizers, lotions, and body oils and luxuriate in rubbing them in until I glisten. I admire myself in the mirror, bumps and all. I look at new muscles I create doing the things I love and become giddy when I see how my body continues to evolve as I nourish and support her.
Once I started becoming more physically aware and appreciative of my body, I was able to start listening to her and providing her with the things she needs. Instead of mortal enemies, we became best friends.
Through all those years of dieting; intense exercise regimes; and the backsliding into booze, cigarette, and junk food fests I lost contact with the wisdom inherent in my being. It’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve gotten to the point where I can listen to what my body needs and know that she trusts me enough to give it to her. It’s not a relationship that develops overnight.
Years of abuse had conditioned my body to believe I would not listen to what she wanted and what she needed, because, well, I hadn’t. But I took those first few steps, and slowly but surely my body began to respond. She now tells me what she needs, calmly, but firmly.
I know I’m fighting off a cold when I get intense cravings for garlic and ginger. I know I’ve been pushing myself too hard when my body begs me to go to bed at 9:30. And I know I’ve been neglecting my movement when I literally get up, put my yoga gear on, grab my mat, and walk out the door without actually realizing I’m doing it.
The point is your body is wise. Wiser than your ego telling you that you won’t be happy until you’re some ideal size that has no basis in actual health or fitness measures. And wiser than the assholes who arbitrarily decided for you what that size is.
There needs to be a shift in perception if you’re going to live as a vibrant person in a society that doesn’t really value your vibrancy or your personhood.
You need to start via the radical act of loving yourself, because you live in a society that tells you not to. The best form of protest is to stop buying into the idea that you are less than and celebrate your body, whatever your shape or current level of fitness.
I still struggle at times with self-doubt, but I’m better able to step back and recognize these doubts for what they are: Fear that I am not enough.
And then I think about all that I am, all that I’ve done, and all the people I’ve loved and I tell those doubts thanks, but no thanks. Our abusive relationship is over. An amazing thing happens when you start treating yourself with the love and respect that you bestow upon others: you stop relying on external forces to tell you you’re worthy because you already know that you are.
And once that feeling takes hold it’s a slippery slope to nourishing yourself with the best foods, the best exercise, and the best relaxation for your body. But all that comes in time. First you have to say I love you and really mean it.
Thank you for being so wonderful!