It’s been a week since I wrote my letter to my body. One week since I declared total acceptance and love for my physical self.
You know how sometimes you write or decide something and it just…doesn’t take? It sort of floats away into the limbo of half-baked dreams and broken promises?
This is not one of those times.
I know this because instead of fizzling in the wake of photos and mirror-sightings, this body-love of mine is growing. And it’s taking on a life of its own.
I didn’t really understand it, but for a long time I’ve felt…small. I’ve talked about feeling tentative and apologetic, but honestly, it was coupled with a sense of being smaller than my physical body. Here’s my theory: for years, my mental image of myself has been pretty much the way I looked in university, which is about 60lbs lighter than I am now.
…sort of this size…although at this point in time I thought I was enormous…
Which meant that whenever I came face to face with a more-current image, I found my body startlingly big and spiraled down into body-hate.
It also meant that even when I danced and wiggled my toes and all that great stuff, I struggled to be fully embodied…because I wasn’t allowing my awareness to stretch out and fill the entire physical container. It was like -most of the time- only part of me was alive and conscious and able to feel things, and the rest of me was a like shameful add-on that I tried not to notice or inhabit.
Does that make sense?
But the other day I was out for a walk, and I realized what was going on. I could feel where my accepted-self ended and the empty part began (and yes, it felt really weird). As soon as I realized this, I consciously allowed my awareness to spread out and fill ALL of me. Not the size I thought I “should” be, but the size I AM. No judgement, no “Ack, my thighs are HUGE.” None of that. “Hey, I’m ME-sized,” I thought, and it felt good. “No matter how big or small I am, I am always me-sized,” I thought, and grinned.
After my walk, Matthew and I did a photo shoot for a super-exciting project I’m working on. I admit I had one initial moment of “OMGSOBIG” when I looked at the first images, but wonderful-Matthew reminded me of my mission and suddenly my new awareness kicked in…and everything was fine.
…MORE than fine. I looked at those photos in an entirely new way: they weren’t “good” or “bad,” they were just me. 100% me. And we went from there. I’ve never had so much fun with photos in my entire life, and it showed!
Here’s the thing: My thighs? They’re my thighs. Every inch of them is me. They’re not my “real” thighs encased in a layer of shameful non-me ickiness. My stomach? It’s my stomach. All of it. Mine. As-is. Hating the “flab” on the surface means hating part of myself. I’m SO done with that.
I’m done judging my photos by how skinny I look in them (I’m not a skinny person, and that’s really OK. I’ve been skinny, and it didn’t work for me).
…some people are naturally this size. But me? Not so much.
Instead of trying to look thin in photos (or in life in general) I’m going to go for looking 100% myself. Not less of myself. Not smaller than myself. Just me. Because that’s what I am. Me. 100%.
Do you know what this means?! I can stop worrying about my jiggles and the fact that I’m wearing a larger size than I did when I was 21.
I can stop making healthy choices because they’ll decrease the size of my “unacceptable” bits, and start making them because they make me feel awesome (I’d heard this was possible, but I rarely seemed to be able to DO it myself). I can move because my body wants to move instead of being motivated by a desire to burn calories (OK, I was working on this one anyway).
And -here’s a major change- I can choose to have pizza and ice cream and watch a movie on the sofa instead, if that’s what I need just then, and I can savour every bit of it without feeling guilty. My routines can be based in self-care, not “self-improvement.”
I could get a bright red dress and totally rock it right now, instead of promising myself I’ll do it when I’m smaller. And -I LOVE this one- I can look at a photo of myself at my current weight and think “Yeah, I look totally 100% myself in this photo” instead of wishing I’d held my stomach in more or wondering if my photoshop-savvy husband could fix my double-chin.
I mean, maybe this is all just me. Maybe no one else has struggled with this. But I highly doubt it. So here’s the truth:
I’m a size 18. I jiggle. I have cellulite. I have rolls and stretch marks. But you know what? I have a smile that lights up a room, a presence that is palpably awesome, and dammit, I’m gorgeous right now. Fat and all.
Take that, every woman’s magazine currently in circulation! “Get slim now”? How about “get joyfully embodied and love every inch of you as-is”? Which one sounds better to you?
I think we’re afraid that if we love our bodies as they are, we’ll do nothing but eat cake and chips and sit on the sofa all day. I don’t know about you, but I’ve done plenty of that stuff while hating myself for doing it and hating the body I’m doing it in. I can’t see how loving myself completely will make the situation worse…in fact, making friends with my body can only help things here.
I’ve made a permission slip:
You can take a copy if you want, because this permission doesn’t just apply to me. You have complete permission to be 100% YOU-sized too. Because when we live fully inside our bodies, we’re beautiful. And that’s true no matter what size jeans we wear or how jiggly our tummies are.
Time to do a 100%-me-sized Happy Dance!