I don’t think Maxie’s post this morning
could have come at a better time, for me especially. I’ve been really
working on body acceptance for the past year or so and I’ve definitely noticed a major difference in the past six months.
I have a couple of early memories of feeling insecure about my body. My best friend growing up was a bean pole and I remember doing splits with her in the basement and noticing that her legs looked “better” than mine when they were smushed against the carpet. (Weird, right?) I think I was seven when that happened and I moved on quickly, but the thought crossed my mind (and apparently stuck). And then I remember hating (really hating) my body the week before sixth grade started. My friend and I went to Gap to get back-to-school clothes and she could fit into adult clothes and I was stuck in adjustable waistband kid jeans. I remember closing the door to the fitting room after seeing how cute she was in her camo pants (seriously…) and how I felt like I looked like a four year old and not a “middle schooler.”
… and then I was a coxswain for seven years. It wasn’t necessarily about being skinny or small, but as a competitive coxswain you have to be at just the right weight. Under the weight minimum so you can make it up with some water chugging before weigh-in. And everyone knows your weight. Women’s weights normally fluctuate throughout the month and I felt like I was under constant surveillance to hit the perfect number week after week. After I quit, I swore off stepping on a scale because it was always such a stressful experience as coxswain.
Beyond those specific notions, there are things I’m more confident about and less confident about. But really in the past six months, I’ve found myself in an accepting and loving place. There are things that aren’t perfect… but there’s a special kind of body love that I’ve been developing. Thanking my legs (actually saying “thank you”) for being strong during a run, whereas before I would bash my legs because I didn’t like how my knees looked. Thanking my arms for being able to carry a toddler or lift my six year old neighbor up for a hug, instead of worrying about a little shake when I move.
It’s also an added magnifying glass with social media. Instead of hearing yourself say things in your head or assuming that people are thinking something, you can legitimately read comments of what people really think about your body. Ugh. I used to be so nervous about posting photos of myself concerned about my “flaws” being exposed to the world. But as I’ve been practicing and exercising my body love and loving (not just accepting) my body for everything that it is, I’ve been more comfortable.
This photo? I can hear my “old self” worrying about my chest size and (definitely) my paleness. Now I feel ridiculous for ever having those concerns. Actually, I was thinking about how much time I’ve wasted feeling horrible about my body and it’s absurd. Mornings before high school as I got ready for school changing my outfits seven times. Being in fitting rooms and having a pit in my stomach when I looked in the mirror.
The hardest part about practicing body love was starting. The voices and thoughts would come all the time as they normally would, but I would have to completely stop myself. It was like a battle with the inner thoughts. From there, once I got better about stopping the thoughts, I’d start replacing the thoughts with the “thank yous.” (They go a LONG way. Seriously.) And before I knew it, I was in awe of my body, thankful for what it provides for me, and comfortable in my own skin… Then the love for myself came pouring in! It really did take a year (the first six months being the most difficult) for me, but I’m so glad I started practicing body love.
Have you struggled with body image ever?