I've been doing a lot of thinking about body acceptance lately.
Warm weather is here, and it's that time of year when all of our insecurities start bubbling up...
"Do my thighs look fat in these shorts?"
"Will my love handles hang over my bathing suit?"
"Does this tank tap make my arms look big?"
And it got me thinking about accepting our bodies.
I mean, really, truly accepting them.
It was a beautiful day out a few weeks ago, so I got out my jean shorts to wear. And... they were tight. Very tight. As in, I-probably-wouldn't-wear-them-out-of-the-house-because-I-felt-uncomfortable-tight.
And having struggled with disordered eating years ago and all the body image stuff that comes with it, it sent me into a panic. I was in a frenzy, analyzing my body from every angle in the mirror, wondering if this "I look fat" thing was all in my head or if it was actually real.
I then went on to try just about every single item in my closet to see if all my dresses, pants, jeans, shorts, and skirts fit.
Based on how my clothes fit, my conclusion was that I had gained a few pounds (I don't weigh myself).
Which prompted me to reflect on whether or not I REALLY accepted my body.
And when I really sat and thought about it, it seemed as if my "body acceptance" was based on my previous size. If I was this upset about gaining a few pounds, then how could I really be accepting my body?
I was having a meltdown because I now thought my thighs looked "too big" in anything I owned.
When did I come to believe that if my thighs were a size bigger that they were somewhere unacceptable?
The real reason we aren't accepting our bodies is because of our belief about where we think we "should" be.
My stomach should be flatter.
My thighs should be smaller.
My arms should be more toned.
My butt should be shapelier.
We associate certain sizes with looking better, being more desirable, and feeling acceptable to ourselves and others.
But what if we shook up those beliefs? And accepted our bodies anyway?
We need to question the thoughts behind WHY we want to be skinnier and smaller, why we want to look a certain way.
Because the "ideal" body shape is always changing. It's never static. What was "sexy" in the media in 1970 doesn't hold up to the same standards as today. What we embrace and aspire to look like today, could potentially be at odds with tomorrow's ideal.
So what does accepting your body really mean?
It means wearing a one piece because that's what you're most comfortable in (even if you think you "should" be wearing a bikini).
It means not ever hiding yourself in big, baggy clothes (because no matter what size you are, you have every right to be seen in fitting, flattering outfits)
It means looking in the mirror and not seeing every single stretch mark, scar, and extra skin as something to be fixed, changed, and "made smaller."
And it means really being okay with where you are now. Being okay with your body doesn't mean you can't still want to change.
You can be at your heaviest point, accept your body in a gentle, loving, compassionate way, and still be on the path to better health.
Because, believe it or not, when you DO accept where you are, that's when you CAN begin to change.
You can't hate, criticize, and berate your body enough to create lasting change. It just doesn't work.
You can, however, be mindful, loving, and gentle with yourself and your body; with where you are now in your journey. And be courageous enough not to hide or be ashamed of how you look.
So, as warmer weather comes and sweatpants/sweatshirts/sweaters are put away, I encourage you to throw out your beliefs of having to look a certain way or be a certain size to accept yourself.
And be kind to yourself! If I promise to work on it, then I hope you will too :)
Share with any woman you know that could use a good ole fashioned dose of some body lovin!
Exhausted from your relentless battle with food demons and the daily struggle with cravings? Then, grab your FREE "The Ultimate Guide to Ending the Diet Cycle Today". For more info on letting go of the constant war on overeating and battling your body, visit jennhand.com
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.