I've been flirting with an idea for some time now. It's been brewing for years, but it has solidified more in the past year. It's the idea of loving my body. I've learned to love myself over the years, it has come slowly with age. I'm 45 years old and I love me. But loving my body has taken more effort...more time. As a culture, we are merciless to women, finding fault everywhere. And even intelligence doesn't seem to be much of a weapon against the barrage of constant messages that tell us we are not good enough. I know. Because I am one helluva smart woman.
I have come to the conclusion that we suppress women's bodies as a way to take away their power. I am an avid watcher of AMC's series Mad Men; and although it isn't exactly history, it reminds me that there are billions of dollars hinging on the fact that we, as women, feel bad about ourselves. As long as we feel bad about our wrinkles, our rolls, our stretchmarks, our straight hair, our curly hair, our light skin, our dark skin, our thighs touching, our thighs not touching, our skin, our lips, and so on and so forth, then our energy is focused away from knowing our true essence and purpose in life. We become so wrapped up in our perceived shortcomings that we forget how truly incredible and powerful we are.
I can remember the first time I felt shame about my body was in the seventh grade. I was in gym and all the girls were being weighed in front of the entire class. I can't recall my weight, but I do recall there was only one girl who weighed more than me, and I remember being humiliated about weighing in front of everyone like that. My friends mother used to tell me not to worry about my weight, it was only baby fat. I don't remember my mom ever saying anything to me about my weight or nutrition. My friends mom was wrong. My baby fat was still around when I had my own babies :)
I grew up with four older sisters. I was the fat one. I heard them complain about their bodies. alot. I don't know what carnival mirror they were looking at, because they were all but perfect. But I imagine, like most of our society, they were comparing themselves to an ideal that was pure illusion.
There was a time in my late twenties when I started to love my body, but I was quickly put in my place by a sister who had grown up not loving her body, even at a size 4, and I imagine that in her mind, if she didn't love her body there was no way someone who weighed 60lbs more than her could possibly love theirs. When I expressed to her that I was comfortable with my size, that I felt more like myself, like me; with a hearty scoff, she conveyed that she believed me to be deceiving myself and her. That one discussion squashed any ideas that I should feel anything but disgust for my 180lb body.
It is a common pasttime for women to complain to one another about their different body parts. We have become so accustomed to it, that we do not even see anything wrong with putting ourselves down and hating parts of ourselves. Stop hating your arms, your thighs, your nose, and start loving them. Love ALL of yourself. In one week I had two sisters write to me with body hate. And although one might say that it was only a small note of self improvement; I know her history with her arms. I've heard it since she was in her twenties ;) I love your arms, they are beautiful. They are great huggers.
But in the end, what I have learned is that the struggle is not with my weight, but the way that my weight, as a woman, has defined how others think about me and how I am supposed to think of myself. There are people who want me to feel shame about my body, and I refuse to oblige them any longer. My body is not perfect for the cover of a magazine (in todays society), but it is perfect for me. Do not let magazines and television dictate to you what beautiful is. There are infinite definitions and examples of beauty on this planet. You are one of them. You are worthy. I am worthy. I am beautiful. My body is beautiful. Do not forget to pursue your dreams because you are preoccupied with false shortcomings of your physical self. Don't fall for it. You have more important things to do on this planet. Don't let anyone take away your power.
Peace & Love (YOUR BODY!)
P.S. I bought my first bikini and can't wait to rock it at the beach!