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Turning Body Shame Into Body Love

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I'll be the first one to admit that I tend to be my own worst critic when it comes to my body. You see me -- however it is you perceive me -- and I see flaws. Things that need to be improved. Things that need "fixing." But, of course, that's ludicrous. There is nothing "wrong" with me or my body. It's just that I don't fit society's notion of "beautiful." And so I judge myself based on those unattainable standards.

The average fashion model is 5 feet 10 inches, 115 pounds, and a size 4 at most. The average American woman is 5 feet 4 inches, 164 pounds, and a size 14. Yet, American women often feel pressured to look like the average fashion model. At my current weight I, for one, would have to gain 3.5 inches of height and lose 10 pounds. That's not happening.

So why are we so hard on ourselves and maybe, just maybe, isn't it time that we stopped? What if instead of looking in the mirror and seeing flaws, we could look in the mirror and see beauty?

Want to try a little experiment? The next time you look in the mirror, really look at yourself and transform all of those negative statements into positive ones. Paste this article on your mirror as a reminder if you need examples. And don't just hone in on the body parts you like, either -- this is an equal opportunity body love moment.

Here are some examples:

Instead of thinking, "My ears are so big. I look like Dumbo," say to yourself, "I love you, ears. I love that you are big so I can hear everything I want to."

Instead of thinking, "I hate the cellulite on my thighs," say, "I love you, legs. You are so strong and get me where I need to go."

Instead of thinking, "My butt's too big," say, "I love you, butt. You provide me with such a good cushion to sit on. And I love, love, love the way you look in jeans."

Instead of honing in on your muffin top with derision, say, instead, "I love you, belly. I love your extra padding -- I know you've got me covered when I get too busy to eat."

Instead of getting frustrated every time your back hurts, say, "I love you, back. You are strongly, silently supportive. I love when you ache because you are letting me know that you need a little TLC."

Instead of criticizing the lose skin under your triceps, say, "I love you, arms. You let me reach for the stars and never hold me back."

Instead of peering at your neck, looking for further signs of aging, say to yourself, "I love you, neck. You do such a good job of holding up our head! I love your wrinkles, for they tell your age -- like rings on a tree. They tell of your life experiences, your struggles, your triumphs."

Instead of willing your crow's feet away, say, "I love you, face. I love your wrinkles, for they tell our story -- of all the good and not so good times we've spent together. Behind every spot, every wrinkle, there is a story."

Instead of counting gray hairs, say, "I love you, hair. You are long and luxurious. I love your color -- even your grey stripe that grows in width each passing year."

And don't forget about the parts you can't see either.

The next time you criticize yourself for misplacing your keys, think, "I love you, brain. You are so smart. You help me write, think, talk, and feel. I love it when you temporarily forget things because it reminds me to be more mindful and present in the moment."

Instead of complaining about your heartburn, say, "I love you, organs. You do such a wonderful job keeping me alive. I love that I don't have to remember to breathe or tell our heart to beat or our stomach to digest our food. You just do it all on your own with no help from me."

And don't forget to end with a little love and gratitude. "Thank you, body, for being so supportive. I love you."

I hope you too will take some time today to celebrate you and your body. You (and your body) are truly a miracle.

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