I hate my body. My boobs are too small. My boobs are too big. My nipples are too big. My butt is too flat. My butt is too big. I hate my stretch marks. I have too much cellulite. I hate my nose. My legs are too thick. My legs are too skinny and not shapely. My stomach is too big. These are the types of things we say to ourselves and in front of other people. Maybe we have even let someone else say them to us, about us.
Recently, I had a conversation with a 63-year-old family member. She is at a healthy weight and has always done strength training and cardio for as long as I have known her. She was telling me about how much she hated her legs. As long as I can remember, she has always hated her legs. I can understand her sentiment, because I have felt something similar.
I have stood in front of the mirror at Target in the family dressing room and seen myself at all angles. I have hated what I have seen. I have vowed to improve, change, and become some perfect specimen of unattainable. I have scrutinized my cellulite and stretch marks while comparing myself to others. I have spent vacations in beautiful locations where I spent more time hating my body than enjoying the moment. I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to be in my sixties still telling people how much I hate my body.
This was all on my mind as my husband called me on a Friday afternoon and told me to pack my bags; we were heading to Cozumel in 36 hours. Later on as I tried on a swimsuit, I looked in the mirror. The cellulite was there staring back at me in the harsh light. I decided while I was in Cozumel to focus on my assets, not my flaws. To enjoy the moment, not focus on my insecurities. I started repeating positive things in my head to drown out the negative.
When we got to the beach, I looked at the people around me. I found that when I stopped judging myself so harshly, I stopped judging others around me the same way. I looked around me to see that everyone’s beautiful bodies weren’t perfect, just like mine. I saw bodies similar to mine and some who weren’t. I saw bellies with stretch marks that had carried beautiful babies. I saw fit women and soft women. I saw body hair and no body hair. I saw confidence and shame.
I chatted with women in the pool over a cocktail about body image and body shaming. I wasn’t the only one who was dealing with this. It didn’t matter if you had an enviable bikini body or were overweight; it was something we all struggled with. We start to believe a lie that if we just lose weight, or add more lunges, or cut out carbs, we will feel beautiful. I don’t believe this is something we change by changing our bodies, it is our mind. My husband listened to all of this and then asked me later, “Are you going to believe me now, when I tell you that I think you are beautiful?”
For each of us the source is different on where this starts. It is little hints or realizations that our small child bodies are flawed. It is “helpful” advice from a family member or taunts from other children. Maybe it is a member of the opposite sex who tells us we aren’t good enough or beautiful enough. It isn’t true, you know.
We are enough. In our own way each of us are beautiful and we bring something unique to this world that no one else can. Our dimpled butt cheeks or inherited nose do not detract from our mission on this earth. Do not let yourself or anyone else tell you differently.
This isn’t an excuse to stop working out or stop eating healthy because I am not ever going to be perfect. It is about accepting wherever we are today. There are some things that can be improved and somethings that just are. We can still be beautiful today, wherever we are in our journey.
I came across this quote the other day and it seemed to sum up exactly what I was feeling.
“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65 or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness… It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.” – Anne Lamott
I want a big juicy creative life. I want a life where I cannonball off of a pier in Cozumel, not hide under a cover-up and a towel. I want to enjoy living in the moment instead of worrying about my body. I want to be free from the negativity. Come join me, it’s liberating.
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