Hey everyone! So, one of my lovely readers, Bette, asked me:
“May I ask, have you always been able to think so positively about your body? Or did you have to train yourself? And, if the latter, how did you do this? IMO, this would be a great blog post — learning to love our “big, beautiful canvasses” in spite of society. Ha.”
When I read that I thought: “I don’t know. I don’t have anything to say about that. I don’t have any advice. I’m no different than anyone else.” I actually hadn’t realized how much I did accept my body or realize that many women my age didn’t accept theirs until she asked me that question. Ok. I do have some things to say.
First, I did recognize a couple of steps (though there are probably a thousand tiny steps) to get where I am today. So, let me start by saying I did have to train my mind to accept my body. It was not as hard as I thought it would be, though I didn’t do this in a very conscious way. And because this is a complex topic this will take several posts to explain. Remember, this is just my experience and my opinion, so read it, analyze it, ask yourself if it makes sense to you and keep what you like and throw away what you don’t. Here’s the first step:
Accept what you can’t change.
So, we’ve probably all hated our body at some point in our lives, or many points in our lives. “Why are you ruining my life? Why can’t you look like so and so? How come I work so hard and you still look this way?” I always wanted to have a tiny waist, instead of the rectangle shape that I was, even at my slimmest and most athletic. One day I realized that there was about 1/2″ between my rib cage and the top of my pelvic bone. So, no matter how thin I could get, I wasn’t going to have a small waist because there just wasn’t enough room between ribs and pelvis to dip in to be a tiny waist. I’m just not built that way and no matter what I did it would be the same. It was physically impossible. I had to accept this fact. I was born that way. Ok. Truce. I accept you waist.
When I thought about the other parts of my body that I wish I could change, but were physically impossible, I knew I had to think of them in a new way. I’m short. That’s not going to change. I have big feet. They will always be big feet. I have big boobs. I was born that way. I could go on and on pointing out what I think are not perfect body parts. But, to constantly be mad at these parts, when there is no chance to change them, seems exhausting and sad. It’s like I choose to drag a weight around my whole life with no chance of ridding myself of it. It’s like being mad at the sun for rising in the east. I looked at my body and saw the parts that were physically impossible to change and I decided to accept them rather than carry on this life-long disdain for them. They are what they are and I can’t change that. I’m tired of being enemies. I want to be friends. I approach you body, as I would a friend, with love and understanding and acceptance of your non-perfect parts. This was immensely freeing.
Now, with a new relationship with my body, and the non-perfect parts, I could concentrate on making the best of them. I figured out how to work with them, rather than against them, to look my best. I put my energy into finding the most flattering way to dress them and let me tell you, when I figured out how to dress these body parts, it was so much easier to accept them and like them because they weren’t that bad. They just needed some help to dress them to their best advantage. They weren’t perfect, but they weren’t that bad with the right clothes. Another reminder that it’s not me, it’s the clothes.
And now another step:
Change up your thinking.
As a designer, I look at problems from many different perspectives to find the right solution. Looking at my weight from the same old worn-out perspective of “I’m fat. I hate my body” was not working and I was tired of that argument. I decided to look at it from another perspective, in fact from the complete opposite perspective.
So, my body is biologically wired to keep me alive and have me survive. It warns me of danger and injury. It wants me to live. Perhaps my body was gaining weight for reasons I didn’t understand. What positive, biological reason would my body want to keep extra weight around? Well, many:
It’s worried that I might be in an earthquake and be buried alive for 10 days and it was going to make darn sure I was going to be pulled out alive.
It listens to the news and hears about war torn regions where people are starving and wants to be prepared in case I’m ever in a war and starving.
Living in a cold climate my body knows there is a chance that I could be lost in a snowstorm for days and would have to stay warm and live on stores of fat and it wants me to survive.
Perhaps my body is worried that I might be on a sinking ship, in the middle of the ocean, and I would have to float to shore, so it made sure I had two large flotation devices that will help me get there.
Thank you body! You want me to survive! You’re thinking ahead and planning! As a mother, I would do anything to make sure my kids survived, and I’ve been thinking ahead and planning. My body was doing the same! It was working behind the scenes to make sure I would survive. It was looking out for me. It wasn’t trying to sabotage me or make me hate it. It was doing what it thought was best to get me to survive. Awwww, thank you body!
When I look at my body, I see a body that is hell-bent on surviving. My body, for whatever reason, has decided that survival means storage of portable food. Actually, pretty smart. She wants me to survive and thrive. I love you body! You’re taking care of me! While I’m busy caring for others, you’ve been caring for me. Thank you!
These are just two ways of thinking that has led me to accept and love my body. There are other steps that I realize I have taken that I’ll share with you in a future post. I cannot tell you how to accept and love your body. I can only tell you how I did it in hopes that you will glean something from my words or it’ll just get you thinking.
Yeah, I guess I did have some things to say!