Loving my body has been a long journey, but well worth the struggle. There’s so much I want to say on this subject, forgive me for any ramblings.
It’s hard to love your body in America. Everything about American culture makes it an uphill battle. And it’s not only about women. Sure the many ways in which women are objectified and tortured into feeling inadequate are awful. But it exists for males as well. There is as much emphasis on being masculine and athletic in modern media as there are pressures to be thin and desirable for women. It is different. But it is also the same. I can only speak for my gender, or more accurately, myself, here.
As a woman I see thousands of messages about how I should look, feel and act. I am supposed to be thin, but not too thin. Strong, but not jacked. I should love cupcakes with abandon but never eat them. And these are only the messages about my weight. There is just as much “advice” on how I should act on dates and who I should let touch me and when, that is all for a post another day.
Often, we are instructed through popular media to find the ability to love our reflection in an outside source. A diet, a man, envy of women, these are all suggested sources of self-love. They work, temporarily. Then the jealousy fades or the man leaves or the diet fails and we are left once again inside a body we loathe.
I actually believe that there are outside sources that are valuable in helping to build self-esteem and self-love. For girls older females who love and accept themselves is important in providing a model for self-love, the most crucial being the mother. A daughter who watches her mother eat herself up in front of the mirror or make negative remarks about her body is learning in subtle and not so subtle ways that there are acceptable and unacceptable ways of being.
When I was a teen, I hated my body right alongside most of my peers. I don’t remember voicing my displeasure often, but I knew I could be thinner. I originally embarked on my yoga journey at this time to help lose weight. It worked. By the end of my senior year I had lost 20 pounds or so. I was happy with this change and buy it had come at a cost. In order to assure that I lost the weight and kept it off I would go days without eating anything until dinner or just snacking on saltine crackers.
Though I never suffered from a sever eating disorder, I did suffer from disordered eating. Throughout college I continued using this as a way of losing a few pounds when I was unhappy with the number on the scale. I also did strange workouts in the living room while watching MTV videos. It never really helped much but I felt like I was doing something, burning the calories.
When i moved to Mexico to au pair, i lost weight without trying. I realize now that I was busy and active and HAPPY. I was working and concentrating on living and being healthy rather than concentrating on my weight.
I gained it back when I came back to the US. Even though I swam each day and ate healthy I couldn’t keep the weight off. I often drank too much coffee to keep my appetite down.
The weight loss happened again when I was in Namibia. Despite the stresses of life there, the weight melted off. Despite the fact that I was eating the least healthy I ever had in my life (pasta very night!) I felt healthy. The key again was that I was active all day and I was HAPPY.
Upon return I gained some weight,but I still fit nicely in my clothes. When I started my journey into yoga I tried again to lose weight through quick fixes such as not eating or working out extra. Then I found a peace in yoga and in teaching that reminds of the peace I felt in those foreign lands. I found HAPPINESS. And I see the weight going back down.
It is when I am paying the least attention, caring the least that my weight drops. When it is not all about weight but about feeling good. I am healthy. And I am happy. And the more I accept my body the happier I am. There are still things I’d like to change, but before I change them I accept them the way they are. I choose each day to love and accept myself, curves and all.
I have much more to say on the topic of actual body acceptance and hope to share more of it in the future and how I came to love myself, mostly.