I was asked recently about body image and how I handled this issue. It was strange because at first, I drew a blank. Of course, I have body issues. I was a woman, after all. It was practically our birth right to be insecure. But, I’ve observed that men were just as affected as us so I decided to sit on the subject, mulling it over.
This is when I noticed a pattern, which is not surprising since I have a habit of writing out my New Year’s resolutions and, I might add, my list isn’t getting any shorter. When I say pattern, I’m referring to a thought pattern; I have realized that this thought is a “New Year’s Resolution,” year after year, decade after decade. I’m always trying to “lose weight” and on some level, this is warping my body image.
The reality is that I have a voluptuous body type so the Hollywood size 2, as Meg Trainor sings, has never been an option for me. What makes this even more difficult is that I really believed I had come to terms with my looks years ago. Yet, the resurfacing of my body image each New Years says something different; I haven’t accepted myself as is- seems that I’m at about 80% acceptance, with 10% embarrassing flaws and 10% unbelievably embarrassing flaws.
On the health front, I do my part by eating right and working out consistently. But even with that, this issue still hovers over me like it’s never enough. Unless I get my mind right, it doesn't matter how much weight I lose because the disconnect lies within my thinking process and not with my actual weight.
Body image should focus on overall health rather than a few pounds, anyway. Don’t get me wrong, weight loss is an excellent marker but it shouldn’t be the only marker. A reality of the human condition is that everyone needs to exercise and eat healthy as they age, starting in their late 20’s. Most heart conditions, cholesterol issues and diabetes II are self-created from poor eating habits and lack of physical activity- although there is a genetic component. So, there’s more at stake than cellulite or no cellulite.
On a personal note, I feel that I owe my body self-acceptance. It has been good to me despite some mildly self-destructive episodes when I was younger, bouncing back like a champ, each and every time. It has held up through the tough times and now that I’m in a better psychological state, I need to step up and take care of my body. I need to shift my thinking from pounds to health, from bikini to cardio fit, from buff to limber and etc.
Easier said than done, I get it. I have to replace years of social and self imposed body standards with more compassionate thoughts and gestures. So, this is what I’m gonna’ do. Every time, I inadvertently put myself down, I’m going to “cancel” the negative affirmation and replace it with: I have my health, I have all. I have my health, I have all. I have my health, I have all.
I’ve actually reframed my thinking, literally not figuratively, by writing affirmations onto note cards and sticking them all over the mirrors in my house. Sounds super cheesy, I know but it works. Think about it; I change in front of my mirrors; I brush my hair and put on my make-up in front of those mirrors. When I have my affirmations hanging at eye level in front of me, they are like mini-beacons holding me responsible for my thoughts! They remind me of my goal where I am most vulnerable, in front of a mirror.
I’ve got this! I’m a rebel against social inequities! I will be my own mirror and reflect the beauty of my flaws and the strength of my character by doing what women rarely do, I will love myself…