“Perhaps we should love ourselves so fiercely that when others see us, they know exactly how it should be done.” – Rudy Francisco
What zit took over my face today?
Any other cellulite bumps show their debut today?
And, of course, how much do I need to suck my stomach in to be as thin as the wall?
Ugh, my inner dialogue used to SO cruel to my body. On a daily basis, I’d nitpick every perceived flaw I could find. My stomach was never flat enough. My butt was too big. I wasn’t close to being a size 0, so how could I ever be beautiful like the models plastered on magazine covers?
I’d even pinch my arm fat to double check that I wasn’t gaining weight. And these were acts of self-hatred I’d never dare to say or do to my friends, let alone my foes.
I imagined one of my friends talking about themselves the way I talked about myself. I knew if they shared their insecurities with me I’d say something like, “No way! I love your butt. It’s big and round. You have an amazing body!” And I’d mean it. So why was I so hard for me to find the same love and compassion for myself?
My friends and family always told me I was beautiful, and I should model. But, I didn’t believe them. I had a hard enough time looking at myself in the mirror — I couldn’t imagine seeing myself through the lens of a camera.
One day when I finally got up the nerve to sort through a modeling application, the only size options were 0 to 4. I was a size 7 and this automatically disqualified me. “You knew you couldn’t model. You’re too big,” my internal voice snarled.
These days, things are different. I’m 30 now, and age (and motherhood) have encouraged me to shift my perspective and focus on loving myself so I can better love my son and others. And you know what?
I want to model, dang it! Except now, I’m not going to try to be stick-thin. I’m just going to be me.
By taking back my own power, rather than giving it away, I started to see myself differently. No longer did I need to pinch my arms or scan my body for flaws — instead I learned to embrace every square inch of my body and see it as beautiful from head to toe!
You see, here’s the thing: How you feel about yourself and your body is what others will pick up too. That’s why self-love and body image matter. And for me it wasn’t one epiphanic moment, instead it was a series of events that led me to question why I had the thoughts I had and then deconstructing those thoughts.
By doing this, I was able to let go of the need to be a size 0, and embrace just being me.
Now, by no means did this process make me want to stop working out or eating healthy — on the contrary:
Do I want to keep doing yoga and kickboxing? Heck yass!
Do I still want to see different parts of my body get toned? Love the thigh and gluteus maximus flex!
What I challenged was my thinking about why I want to do those things. I want to do them because I love how I feel with my endorphins flowing post-workout. I choose to do yoga to get my deep inner burn that tones my arms and core. I choose kick boxing because I adore my glutes and hips (and lack of muffin top with side-kicks). It comes from a place of love, not fear.
I unconditionally love my girlfriends, and if any of them had a week where their stomaches were bloated and hanging over their pants, I would still love their tummies. If I do that for others, I dang well better do it for myself!
And if you’re where I was nitpicking every inch of your body, then this article is for you!
Here’s how you can shift your perspective and fall madly in love with the beautiful, powerful person that you are:
Self-love Step 1: ASK, “Would you say that to your friend?”
Challenge your current thinking and perspective. Ask yourself if that mean thing you just said or thought about yourself is something you would say to or about your friend. If the answer is no, then you know this isn’t something healthy that you should be saying to yourself.
Ask yourself what you would say to your friend. Let that be your new mantra for the week when your negative body image thoughts arise.
Self-love Step 2: Send Universal Love.
Whether you are rolling out of or into bed or are thinking negative patterns about your body, send universal love to that body part. Imagine it filling up with whatever color light you want. I like to imagine a huge wave of pinkish red rushing right into my stomach when I fearfully critique it’s flatness.
Self-love Step 3: SAY, “I love you ( insert body part).”
Say aloud or in your mind, “I LOVE YOU STOMACH!” or “I LOVE YOU ARMS!”
Tell your body you love it and that you are thankful for what each part allows you to do everyday. If you are feeling sassy and confident, you could say, “I LOVE YOU BLOATED STOMACH! Thanks for digesting my massive amounts of carbs today.”
By telling your body that you love it, you’ll cancel out your body-image related fears. If you’ve been conditioned to believe that some parts of you aren’t good enough thus far based on society’s assessments, then you can most definitely begin to believe that you love your body based on your own assessment.
Self-love Step 4: Watch I Feel Pretty with Amy Schumer
This movie pushed my butt into gear in getting over my fear of my body. I don’t want to spoil the movie, so the only thing I am going to say is how you feel about your body is a state of mind, it’s not actually how your body is.
Self-love Step 5: Know That Your Body Isn’t You.
Your body is a channel in which you can enjoy, love, live, cry, smile, eat, exercise, and so much more. Your body does not define you. Your body is not you. You are what you decide to be.
If you want to change your body to a healthier lifestyle, cheers to you! Just remember not to do things out of fear because you want to be a certain way not for yourself, but for society or someone else.
Above all remember to enjoy your life! It’s oh-so-short and fleeting.
So what if there’s a week where your stomach hangs out? Enjoy that extra slice (or slices) of pizza! Do things for your body (and tastes buds) because you want to enjoy life. Do it because you love yourself, not because you fear yourself. I chose love and did a modeling session for fun for ME! I gave birth to my beautiful son two years ago, and these hips don’t lie. I am a size 10 and 20 pounds heavier prior to birth — and I love myself, ALL of me! Do you love all of you?
About the author: Melissa Persons is a lover of love, mama, doctorate student, and teacher. She enjoys learning foreign languages and having new cultural experiences. Melissa believes we’re all babies deep down who want one thing: to give and receive love.