I love my body.
I used to hate my body. I used to think I wasn’t thin enough or pretty enough or good enough or “normal” enough or what-the-hell-ever enough.
Gradually, over the years, I’ve come to accept my body. I’ve even come to like it. I’ve learned to appreciate it. I’ve learned how to forgive it when things go wildly wrong.
But love it? Just as it is?
So, I started noticing that several of my friends are dieting or wanting to diet. I’ve been hearing a lot of negative body-talk – from myself, from others, from the world in general… I’ve somehow witnessed or seen or overheard a ridiculous lot of body-hating mojo over the last few weeks.
I was feeling miserable. I kept looking in the mirror with harsh eyes, critical thoughts running through my head. I was spiraling down into the pit of body hate.
But then I stopped.
Wait a minute. I’m hating my body because other people want to change their own bodies?
I’m hating on my body because other people might not like it?
But what about how I feel about my body?
And I realized, right there, staring at myself in the mirror: I love my body. I’m happy in my body. I’m happy with my size. I don’t need to slim down or tone up; I’m fabulous as I am!
Now, every time I hear negative body-talk (whether from me or from others, about me or about others), I whisper to myself, “I love my body.”
Or I shout it.
Or I sing it.
I went with my BFF to buy dance shoes, and the store is, of course, focused on people far less round than I. I looked at the rows and rows of little leotards, surveyed the tiny tutus, perused the slender shoes. Even the structure of the store was built for ease of movement – if you weren’t fat. But I bumped into everything.
I started to feel like the proverbial bull in the china shop. It was getting to me.
But then I looked at my legs in the mirror (it was a shoe store; the mirrors were short). I admired my calves. I grinned at my thighs. And I wiggled my butt at myself.
I put my hand on my heart and whispered “I love my body!” Then I went to the bathroom and looked myself in the eyes and said it loudly: “I love my body!” And did a little dance, just for me, there in the bathroom.
This has had profound and unexpected effects.
My self-hate tapes are all slowly changing into self-affirming tapes.
My inner critics have stopped screaming. They do still mutter under their breath occasionally, but as soon as I raise an eyebrow, they button it up. I’ve even gotten the sense that they’re packing up to move out in a few months.
I dance more.
I move more.
I gesture more (this is really impressive, as I am Italian and previously gestured a huge lot as it was).
I laugh more.
I’m friendlier. I’m nicer. I’m more open.
I’m less neurotic in general. I even went to the grocery store in my ridiculous pj’s (and no bra – for the first time in like 20 years) without freaking out!
I can pull up out of a downward spiral on my own, and without it taking forever.
The constant background worry about what others will think is fading. In fact, I’ve started smiling at people when they’re looking all sour-puss at me.
I’m not taking everything personally anymore.
I had no idea that any of this would happen. I started this whole thing because my inner child self was feeling brutalized and in desperate need of comfort; I didn’t set out to make so many extraordinary changes in myself.
And I’ve become addicted to it! I tell myself “I love my body!” or “I love myself!” or “I love my *insert various body bit here*!” all the time. Multiple times a day. Especially right when I wake up and right before sleep.
But then, uh-oh, here we go – I had a hair crisis. My hair, post surgery, is vastly different from what it was when I had ovaries. I’d gotten trapped in Story A – but then I cut my hair short and stepped into a new story. Ah, but not wholeheartedly. I was still lingering at the doorstep. I was wistfully looking at the door and wishing I could go back through to that old, comfortable story.
This is the kind of thing that can tank me for weeks. I get stuck and mired and self-conscious. I hate my hair, which spirals into I hate my body, which spirals further into I hate my whole self.
But not this time.
This time, I spiraled a little.
Then I took a deep breath.
I hugged myself. (It’s awesome, hugging yourself. Do it. It rocks.)
I petted my hair. I cried. I even wailed a little. I told the Goddess that I was really upset about my hair not being like it used to be. I cried some more.
And then, I put on some really good trancey music. I took my razor and trimmed a little here and there. I cut a few inches off my bangs. I danced. I sang. I cried. I took a damn good shower.
I looked in the mirror and said, “I love my body. I love my hair. I love myself. It’s okay. I’m okay.”
And it is!
Weeks of loving on myself gave me a cushion to land on when I tripped.
Weeks of tenderness, gentleness, and happy positive body-talk pulled me up by my bootstraps. It took me a fraction of the time to get my mojo back, and to get back to where I’m cradling myself with love, kindness, gentleness.
So, listen to that negative talk – body, lifestyle, art, work, wherever you’re most critical, wherever you feel the most criticized by the world – and then counter it. Counter negative body-talk with messages of acceptance. Counter art critics with messages of pride in your art. Counter those frowns and grumbles with smiles and kindness.
The world will not be changed by negativity.
Only through connection and through love – for our selves and for others – will we bring about the change we so desperately need.