I think this is one of the toughest questions I face. One that many women face actually. Can you love your body and still want to change it?
The answer is yes. But it’s complicated.
It seems lately the body positivity movement is in full force. We are told to love our bodies and not focus on the old views of perfection (skinny, flawless, young). But we are also told to maintain a healthy weight. That means dieting right? Not necessarily.
My first solid memory of hating my body was when I was ten. The girls I grew up with had become the popular girls and I was part of the group by default. I saw my role in the group as the “funny, fat friend”. You know, the girl with the good personality.
While the girls were all channeling their inner Brooke Shields and rocking their designer Calvin Klein jeans. I was feeling gawky and a bit out of place in my Levi corduroys that whistled in the thigh area when I walked. I begged my mother to get me a pair of Calvins just so I could feel like part of the group.
After extensive nagging and offering up my allowance for a few weeks, she finally caved. We hit the mall and unlike my friends who could grab a pair of pants off the rack and wear them right out of the store I had to try on at least twenty pairs before I finally gave in and settled on an ill-fitting pair that were somewhat snug at the waist but were way too long in the legs. Turns out, if I were proportionate, I would had to have been at least 9 feet tall.
My new jeans had to be professionally tailored due to the excessive leg material. We picked them up a few days later and I was so excited to show up to school looking super cool in my new stylish ensemble. A rose colored Fair Isle sweater and some white Nike sneakers. I’d feather my hair perfectly and put on some super shiny lip gloss and I’d finally feel like I belonged in the group.
Turns out, I looked way better in my head than in real life. The tailor butchered my jeans and made some not so flattering adjustments. He was Apparently just chopping the extra yards of fabric off the legs and putting a hem on them didn’t make them look fitted. It just made them look like I cut my pants off at the knee. They were like poorly fitting gauchos. Not a good look.
I cried for hours that night night. I didn’t look like my friends and I just felt ridiculous and embarrassed. I refused to wear them but my parents, who had spent more money than normal on my pants informed me otherwise and I was forced to go to school looking and feeling like a complete freak.
I was mortified and I knew everyone was snickering behind my back while I stood at the chalkboard. The “nice jeans” comments were being made in jest, I was sure of it. I barely made it through the day without bursting into tears, and when I got home that afternoon I immediately rolled those jeans in a ball and hid them in the back of my closet never to be worn again.
I believe that day was the actual start of a life-long journey of dieting, feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing that I still struggle with today. Check out this video from Amy Pence Brown and her Stand For Self Love. Get the tissues ready because you’re gonna feel some things.
In a few months I’ll be turning 50 and I’m determined to make changes to my second act. If I could have back all the tears I wasted crying over how I looked or get back the nights that I cancelled on my friends or the time I spent taking pictures of special events so I wouldn’t have to actually be in a photo. I would give anything.
This new phase of my life needs to about self love if it is going to be any different than when I was younger.
How To Love Your Body and Still Want to Change It
If your weight is causing health issues or preventing you from actively taking part in activities you enjoy, then losing a few pounds is necessary. Even a small amount of weight loss can be beneficial. It can reduce joint pain, blood pressure and the risk of diabetes and also improve sleep, give you more energy, improve your sex life, give you more energy and improve your self-esteem.
I can't think of better whys than that!
Self Love, Not Self Loathe
Try to focus on wellness and not weight loss. It's time to put away those restrictive diets and focus on what you can add to your life, not what you need to take away from it. Vow to drink more water, eat more fresh vegetables. Try a healthy meal delivery service like Hello Fresh. Take a yoga or barre class or just make sure you can get outside for a walk during the day.
Remember that the number on the scale is just your weight at a particular time. It does not reflect your overall health. If stepping on the scale causes you anxiety or discourages you, stop stepping on it and keep doing your thing!
Our inner voice can be a nasty bitch! It's time to shut her out and start telling yourself how amazing you are. Would you let her talk to your daughter the way she talks to you? Absolutely not! When that inner voice starts, take back your power with positive words, do something nice for yourself like a manicure or bubble bath. Call a friend or read an encouraging book. You take care of others all the time. Now it's your time!
Here are some more posts on self help and body positivity that you might find helpful.
- Body Positivity in Midlife
- Dare To Do Things Differently For Big Changes
- 21 Must Read Books Self Discovery and Personal Growth At Any Age
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