The very first time I can recall feeling inadequate about my body was in preschool. I must have been about four years old when I caught my shadow on the sun lit concrete of North Broadway playground. I stopped running with the other girls and turned to look at what I saw. I had a baby tummy protruding underneath my jumper. I didn’t like my shadow. My chick tummy didn’t resemble the flat sexy stomach of Jasmine or Ariel, so I sucked it in and ran after my friends. I remember the day I stopped loving my body so vividly. All it took was one glance at my shadow to completely change the view I had of myself. I remember the day I lost my chubby cheeks too. I looked in the mirror and gazed at the face looking back at me. I loved that thin looking girl. I danced around my mother’s bedroom in my Lion King dress happy to be thin because thin was a beautiful thing to be. My uncomfortableness with food and my body stayed with me through most of my adolescence. Before my 10th birthday I went to Limited Too to find the perfect ensemble to wear for my big party. I found what I thought at the time was the most beautiful shirt I had ever seen, but it didn’t look right on me. So I starved myself down to 45 lbs in order to look “good” in it. Granted I was probably 3 feet tall when I was 10 but it still wasn’t pretty. Believe me, I was all head. I looked like a walking tooth pick with a peach on top.
My struggles with body image didn’t change until the end of my teenage years. This is mostly because the messages I was receiving had only worsened. I didn’t look like the girls on T.V. and in magazines. The only places you usually see dark haired, hairy women under 5ft tall is in Lord Of the Rings, so I really didn’t stand a chance. I was unbelievably ashamed of my body. The first time a boy made me feel sexy I fell for him hard, too hard.
It has been said that the average American woman is 5’4 and weighs around 140 lbs whereas the average model is 5’11 and weighs about 117 lbs. There is a huge gap between what we actually look like and what we’re told is beautiful. Young girls aren’t stupid. We are able to make the clear connection that men find these supermodel images desirable. So naturally we crash diet, overexercise, and develop overwhelming resentment towards our bodies all in the hope of becoming society’s idea of the “perfect” girl.
Your body is a living organism that requires love, respect, and connection. It knows when it’s being abused and absorbs that pain like a sponge. Duality between mind and body distances you from authenticity and self care. If you’re not loving your body then you’re not loving yourself. Lacking self love and confidence can set you going on a damaging cycle. Once I began to understand that I was the only one who noticed my flaws I was able to grasp the stupidity of it. Practicing yoga and meditation helped me establish clarity and connection within myself. By coming into my body I realized that every bump, bruise, scar, and mole were pieces of my puzzle; and that made it beautiful.
Here are 5 things to help you love yourself more fully.
- Begin every morning with meditation: Practice by either laying on your back or sitting on your bed. Close your eyes and breathe slow full breaths and let your belly fall soft. Establish silence and spend 3-11mins in sync with your breath. Notice your body. Imagine it completely covered in white light and healing energy. Allow it to heal you.
- Thank your body: Along with meditation make sure to spend silent moments studying your body from head to toe and thank it for everything it’s given you.
- Give yourself 3 compliments everyday: Stand in front of your mirror completely naked and say three things that you love about your body
- Practice I AM THAT I AM: When you start to think negatively about your body place your hands over your heart and recite: Everyday in Every way I am getting better and better, God and me and me and God are one I am – and repeat anything you need or desire to feel, for example: I am beautiful, healthy, and strong. Then close with: I know this is the truth and I am thankful for that truth. So it is.
- Surround yourself with positive people: Close relationships should never drag you down, they should only uplift you. If you are surrounded by people who speak negatively about the looks of themselves and others it shows that they are insecure and will be unable to offer you the support you need.
I still struggle with my own reflection and it’s a constant process. I had allowed my fears and insecurities time to grow and fed them regularly with negativity. This is why it will take time to make a full positive change. The importance of beginning this transformation is undeniable. We need to teach our sisters, our friends, and our daughters how to love their bodies. 7 million girls and women struggle with eating disorders and body dysmorphia in this country and we have to make a change. We brought our bodies into this world. They are roadmaps of our lives and we will leave them behind when we go. Let’s make a fresh start and give ourselves the love and respect we deserve.