“I can’t believe how fat you are!” “You are too large and you take up too much space!” “I can’t believe how flabby you are!” ”You look terrible!”
Would you ever say any of these comments to your friends? To your kids? I never would, but I have said all this and worse to myself over the years. My choice of self-abuse has been about my body: its size and fleshiness. I know that I am not alone. Too many women say terrible things to themselves about their bodies on a daily basis and this undermines us.
For decades I berated myself for my body size, constantly comparing myself to the other women in the room. Am I the largest? Fattest? Are my thighs larger or smaller than hers? Can anyone see the roll of my tummy? The overlap of skin here and there?
Over the years I have gone up and down the scale, with a large (and final!) weight loss 3 ½ years ago, when I turned 50. My motivation was to be healthy, after watching my beloved aunt suffer when she turned 80 with health problems that were tied to her weight. I refused to lay in a bed when I was 80 and hear the doctor tell my children that the only way for me to heal is to go back in time and lose weight.
And so I lost the weight once and for all.
It wasn’t easy, but I did it. The hardest part wasn’t to stop eating the foods I love but that don’t love me, that just took will-power and discipline. The hardest part was to stop beating myself up on a regular basis about my body. I had to finally learn to mother my body.
How did this happen? It was a process, bit by bit. I remember the days four years ago when I sat to watch video clips of the British TV show, “How To Look Good Naked” on You Tube. I sat for hours, transfixed watching the host, Gok Wan, teach the women on the show that they were beautiful.
Watching them go through the transformation of accepting and then loving their bodies was empowering and emotional to watch. Over the years since then, working on my yoga mat, appreciating what my body can do has been a real transformative process for me.
Then the other day I saw a photo on Facebook of a woman sitting in a chair with no clothes on. I looked at her and thought she looked beautiful. And I realized that when I looked like that I never would have seen myself as beautiful. Never. I was too busy beating myself up for looking just like her.
What a waste of time and energy I spent berating myself and my body. Instead of seeing my body as strong and beautiful, I saw flabby and weak. But when I look at this photo I see the opposite. She looks strong and confident and beautiful to me. How does she look to you?
The fact is I will never have washboard abs, no six-pack for me. My thighs will never delicate and stick thin. I am healthy, I have curves and I look great!
My body has birthed two children without drugs, breastfed for a total of 8+ years. It has carried, soothed and loved those kids. In its youth, my body was loved by many, and for the past 25 years it has lain next to one special person every night. My body has spent years on a tennis court. It used to bounce on a step aerobics stair and lately it is back on a yoga mat, 4 or 5 times a week. My body has skied and hiked and walked and shopped all over the world and while it shows some wear and tear, it is mine and it wakes up every morning (so far!). So instead of hating it and beating it up, I now commit to celebrate it, in all its glory and folds and curves and strength.
Mothering my kids came naturally, but mothering my body has been a long time coming. So glad I finally made it!
Want to watch some inspirational body image videos? Check you the “How To Look Good Naked videos” that inspired me:
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