Hi Friends! 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 we all need to stop being so hard on ourselves. 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 we all need a reminder every now and then to treat ourselves with the same kindness and compassion we often reserve for others. So without further ado, here she is: Ferociously Feminine Bodies!
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. “As long as the weight is not actively contributing to dis-ease or affecting your quality of life, then I don’t think it’s something a woman should be concerning herself with on a regular basis.”
“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. I’m speaking more broadly about many women in our culture who have been damaged by this cult of the ideal. We have been conditioned since we were old enough to notice we had hips (and it just keeps starting earlier and earlier) to think that unless we had the perfect body to go with our killer brains and wicked sense of humour, then we are in some way lacking. Well ladies, I’ve had enough of this horseshit. I’m tired of women thinking that their bodies are the enemy. I’m tired of seeing myself and the women I love punish 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 all women are necessarily meant to have six packs and perfect thighs and perky bums. Yes, some women 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 women 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 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 a perfect woman 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 women 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 too slack 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 our ferociously feminine bodies are wise. Wiser than our egos telling us we won’t be happy until we’re our ideal size. And wiser than the assholes who arbitrarily decided for us what that size is. We need a perception shift if we’re going to live as vibrantly beautiful women in a society that doesn’t really value our vibrancy or our womanhood. We need to start by loving ourselves, because we live in a society that tells us not to. The best form of protest is to stop buying into the idea that we are less than and celebrate our bodies, whatever their 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. Fears 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 we start treating ourselves with the love and respect that we bestow upon others: we stop relying on external forces to tell us we’re worthy because we already know that we are. And once that feeling takes hold it’s a slippery slope to nourishing ourselves with the best foods, the best exercise, and the best relaxation for our bodies. But all that comes in time. First you have to say I love you and really mean it.