There is a lot of hype these days around “Self Love” and “Body Love” or “Body Positivity.” They’re buzzwords that we crave but most of us feel confused on how others seem to just have it when we often don’t know what it feels like.
Just love yourself. Whatever you look like, that’s enough. It’s who you are inside that counts.
It’s easy to say. It’s easy for me to say as a white woman with a socially accepted body. We know it’s not easy for everyone to believe, but isn’t it safe to assume a skinny person might love him- or herself more than someone stigmatized and overweight? Yep.
When I think about “self-love” or “body love,” I know from experience that I didn’t hate myself into loving myself. That’s a fact. I didn’t keep feeding myself words of disgust and meanness and suddenly believe that I was worthy of love. And, I know that it doesn’t “just happen” one day.
Nope. You have to begin talking kindness to yourself, and you have to work at your relationship with yourself, including your body. I’ll talk about loving your body, specifically, because once you can love your body, I think that you’ll begin to realize that YOU are more than a body.
Even today deep in recovery as a fully-grown woman, my body feels different nearly every day. It feels different whether I get enough sleep or not, exercise or not, drink enough water or not, eat a lot of salt, or not. So, if I based my love for myself based on my body, I’d for sure go on a roller coaster each day!
I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and here are my tips:
The first step I’ve nailed down is to start acknowledging your body and what it looks like… like, truly. Not that you “feel” overweight, but what are you maybe not seeing? Start taking an honest inventory. And finally (this is key!), take your inventory without comparing to anyone else. This is YOUR body. It kind of looks like this…
I have this skin-colored mole on my nose. My hair looks like this, blonde and a little frizzy. My legs are kind of big (if I were to compare, I’d want to compare them to the girls with skinny legs – but I’m not doing that). My skin has this pink tinge to it – it’s not quite white or tan. My hips feel sore a lot of the time. My right eyebrow has this gap in hair.
2. Take Ownership.
This is not only acknowledging the features you have, but it’s also tolerating that this body belongs to YOU. It’s your only body. Like this…
This is what I look like. No one else is allowed to claim or comment on this body. These are my legs and this is my hair. It’s unruly, but it’s mine. This mole isn’t going away- it’s mine. My skin is pink, so what? It is what it is. My hips feel sore and I can help them feel less sore. My eyebrows are not the same, but they’re mine.
This one is huge! So now we’ve acknowledged our body and accepted it as our own. This step is to begin thanking it for all it’s given us and everything it allows us to do. We must do this regularly to begin seeing a shift from hating the physical body, to appreciating it, to focusing on more than what our bodies look like. Some days you may only be able to think of one thing; other days you’ll think of 10.
Ask yourself: What does your body give you and allow you to do?
These legs of mine are big, but they’re strong. They have allowed me to play a sport I love, jump high, run fast, and stay low. They allow me to walk with my dogs and travel to interesting places. This is my hair and it’s kind of becoming my identity. People like how unique it is and that’s pretty cool. My body was my battleground, but now it gives me a story I can use to relate to others. My body is my tool and not my prize and it lets me feel powerful.
Try these three things for one week, and then two, and get back to me to tell me how it may have changed your life. Remember that it’s a process and you are worthy of love (especially from yourself!) whether you know it or not.
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