National Eating Disorders Awareness week just ended. I would like to say I am very involved in this campaign but to be honest.. this was the first year I had ever heard of this program.
The topic of body image is near and dear to my heart. This drives me.. THIS I am passionate about. So often I have felt the desire to blow this subject wide open but then stop myself because I don’t feel I have the tools or professional background to tackle such an important issue.
What I do have, however, is personal experience.. and I have a voice. So as long as I am able, I will continue to address it here by hammering away at my own issues, soliciting other people’s stories, and providing a platform for discussion.
I have a few questions to ask you..
- Are you comfortable with your body?
- Have you ever felt self-conscious about how you look? Ashamed even?
- What about bullied or picked on? Have you ever been subjected to any kind of harassment based on your physical appearance?
Let’s see.. here are my answers..
Yes! I am finally comfortable with my body. The caveat? In clothes!
I do feel self-conscious without clothes or in a bikini. Ashamed is a strong word and although I must really pause to consider it.. I don’t think I am ashamed. Very self-conscious about some things? Hell to the Yes. Border-line ashamed? Possibly.
Bullied? Picked on? Harassed? Yep!
Let’s consider this..
We are inundated with images of beautiful people.. we are indeed a society focused on physical appearance and youth. It is everywhere. It is promoted by industries hell-bent on making money on our feelings of inadequacy. The “pretty” people are promoted on television, magazines, etc. Social media is breeding ground for highlighting physical appearance. We.. I admit to having a great appreciation for beauty. I grew up in the era of the supermodel.. Cindy Crawford, Niki Taylor, Stephanie Seymour and I was completely enamored with their stunning looks.. and I still am.
Have you seen some of these perfect looking women on the internet?! OMG..they are freaking everywhere and they are freaking gorgeous!! How the hell am I supposed to keep up with expectations such as that?
So.. have I been subjected to harassment? Yes.. and who’s the biggest bully I’ve faced? Hands down.. ME! I haven’t been the only one. I have, however, been the loudest one.. “Your belly is saggy, old, and gross”. “Your thighs have too much cellulite.” “You better hope he doesn’t notice that your eye gets lazy when you’re tired.” “You look so old.” “Will anyone accept you with all your imperfections when there is obviously prettier, younger women available?”
You want to hit me where it hurts? Hit me right there.. in one of the areas that I already believe about myself.
There it is.. there is the key! Viola! There is the key that also unlocks this!!
Maybe two keys actually.. two keys used together. 🙂
Here is what I have learned over the past few years on this little fitness and life journey of mine: As I have grown to not only accept, but actually like, parts of myself.. the opinion of others becomes less and less of an issue.
I am single.. something I rarely address here. For this point, however, I need to go ahead and put it on the table. That means that I date. Being that fitness is a passion, hobby, and lifestyle of mine, it is often the subject of conversation. Which means my body, my training, etc. can also become a topic. I have heard numerous comments from different people. Use your imagination here for tone.. as these were not compliments: “What’s your goal? I hope it isn’t to get more muscular.. because that is just gross.” “I prefer women with more meat on them.” “You want to bench press your own body weight? NO man wants to see that!” “Do people ever talk to you about being too thin?”
I hear these and although irritating and frustrating.. they do not “hurt”. I do not take them personally.. it does not make me want to change. I do not find myself disgusting. I am able to write off these comments, albeit somewhat rude, as just as matter of taste.
The guy who said, “So at your age, what do you think you are going to find hotter than me?” Oh.. HE got blocked. Why? Because he hit right where it hurts!
What all this tells me is key # 1.. Learn to love yourself!
“If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm.” – African Proverb
What became quite obvious in that unexpected social experiment is everyone has different tastes. Rightfully and thankfully, we all like different things. We cannot please everyone. . not everyone is going to like us (looks, personality, etc.). And if we are chasing this.. THIS is a losing battle. I mean a no win..NO one wins here. We don’t please ourselves and we end up wanting what we don’t have and wasting the beauty that is our own. We must celebrate in the beauty that is ours.. the beauty that no one else can offer.
Which is key # 2.. Stop comparing yourself to others! This is huge! We will drive ourselves nuts if we don’t stop this. We are a whole package. We are not our thighs.. we are not our weight. Each of us is perfectly put together to be an imperfect person full of different talents, qualities, strengths, weakness, flaws, and quirks. No one else possesses that same combination.. and THAT is the kind of beautiful that cannot be replicated!
When I first started to write this, I was going to share a couple of pictures that show the women who we may think are beautiful and perfect are really not perfect after all. But no, I am not doing that. Pointing out someone else’s imperfections so we feel better about our own imperfections is not what I want to emphasize.
What I want to emphasize instead is to love ourselves. The more we love ourselves and all of our unique qualities.. the more impervious we become to outside influences. And the more we are also able to love and respect others for their beauty as well.. the package in its entirety!
Please share what you love about yourself!!