This post is going to make some cringe and revolt -- and that's fine, because a special message needs to be heard more often today: Your body isn't gross or vile, it's simply different than someone else's. Times that by seven billion.
But none of this matters if YOU don't think your body is worth staring at naked in your mirror, if you're overcome with judgments about what your size means. Unfortunately, many women avoid engaging with their bodies in this direct way, unable to make contact with their own image staring back at them.
I remember the first time I stared intensely into my own eyes. I was 16 and for whatever reason, I tried it. I stared right into my big, brown eyes for ten whole minutes and by minute three, I was crying. I was crying because I realized that I had never once given enough of a damn to look at myself this closely. I was crying because I thought I was pretty. Me! The chubby girl teased by the neighborhood boys had the audacity to think she was pretty.
...and beautiful, gorgeous and real.
One of the exercises I assign to clients that are uncomfortable in their skin is to do the mirror-stare at whatever level they want. To this day, I've yet to hear a client tell me they didn't feel something. And it's the feeling of something that matters, because in that moment of self-awareness lies the key to whatever bullsh*t you've been hanging on to all these years.
In your gaze lies everything you hate AND love about yourself. But when you do it while naked, it's even more intense and compelling.
If you have the courage to face yourself nude, you're experiencing who you are unfiltered. You see the bumps, the curves, the folds, the creases, the hair, the moles, the dimples, the soft spots... and that's just your skin.
When you look at your body naked, and I mean REALLY look at it, your mind floods with images and connections to what you deem your worth and value is. This deluge is what occupies your mind each moment, directing your course and unconsciously guiding your life.
If you're overweight and have chalked up all of your issues in life to your weight, this experience is one of the most terrifying and healing things you'll ever do. So, if you want to overcome hating your body, you have to be willing to meet it where it is -- right in this moment, exposed, raw and real.
But get this: The more you stare and consciously deal with all the negativity that comes up, something remarkable occurs -- you start to actually like what you see. You begin to appreciate that those rolls like to wiggle when you laugh; that your thighs rubbing together when you walk isn't a sin; that the sags under your arms are not a good enough reason not to wear a sleeveless shirt. You start to understand that your body is a body, like anybody's, varied and unique unto its owner.
Such a visceral experience matters because your body houses something fantastic -- someone who is a light of joy in another's life; someone who has talents and skills that make others feel awe; someone who has seen the world and has a millions stories, and with those same eyes, deserves to tell their own story about who is behind them.
So go on, comment below that fat people are disgusting and need to lose weight. Comment that your body is a machine to be disciplined and forced into submission; that women's bodies are meant to be prized and that men's bodies are meant to look like marble sculptures. And then later tonight, have an honest look at the body and person left behind when all the veneers you've built up around you are stripped away.
You and everyone else living is a flawed, fragile and unbelievably intricate example of life. Recognize that and soon enough, amazement sets in.
Follow Rachel O'h-Uiginn on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RachelTheCoach