One day last week I was scanning through social media and someone’s picture caught my eye. It was a woman standing next to a poster billboard sign that read…
losing weight is not your life’s purpose.
This hit me in the heart and I heard the word YES, YES, YES! echoing repeatedly all around me! As a few days pasted I found myself continually repeating this statement over and over in my head, and it felt like a HUGE Ah-Ha moment for me! Finally, a feeling I have had for the past 5 years that someone else put into words! I mean, why did I not think of that?!
Without going through the complete details of the “story of my life” and saving YOU time in reading this, let’s just say I have suffered from poor body image since I was a child. Shocker right? Nope! I’m pretty sure at least 90% of females in our society have experienced poor body image so chances are, well you have too. My deepest apologies to you. I’m sorry you have experienced this ridiculousness. I’m sorry you fell into that same hole of judgment with me and all the other women with us.
I AM TIRED! I’m tired of hating my thighs. I’m tired of redoing a picture 10 times because I think my arm looks too wide. I’m exhausted from criticizing myself in the store changing room with an arm full of clothes that I’m convinced all look horrible on me.
I am tired of social media filling up with posts of the latest weight loss challenges, wraps to make you skinny, and protein drinks to help drop a few sizes. And don’t get me started on the magazine photoshopped women! Who are these women who agree to this anyway?? I am outraged that society thinks I should believe all this bull shit about the latest diet craze, the freaking calorie counters and the newest exercise trends!
Our body image issues rest in the hands of our society. Our emotional unresolved issues rest in our own. What a damaging misfortune we are doing to our spirit.
Please let me share this with you…
I had my first and only child when I was 36 years old. For the first time in my life I was able to look at myself in the mirror and see true beauty. I LOVED being pregnant, not just because I was carrying a child but equally because
I became R-E-A-L with myself.
I became a real woman in the earthy grounded Goddess sense; a Goddess who unveiled this nonsense of body image insecurity. A woman who doesn’t judge herself, but instead chooses to see beauty in every part of self mind body and spirit. I had never experienced this before, this non-judgment of self. Not only did I birth another female my daughter, I birthed a new woman deep within. Of course I still fall into the trap of negative body image judgment, but I have trained my mind to quickly recognize what I am doing and snap out if it!
Rewinding for a minute, let me share with you that it was my dance teacher who revealed and imprinted her own self judgment onto me at the young age of 10 years old. Her words were..
“You don’t have a dancers body and you are going to have to work harder to look like them” as she pointed to the two skinny girls in my dance class.
*Do you remember your first incident of body image shame? This is important to remember no matter how painful so that you can recognize the situation for what it actually was, not just for the impression it left on you.
That was when it all started for me, this poor body image. Then at 12 years old we moved out of state and because of my experiences with my dance teacher “Miss Terri”, I was so nervous and scared to continue dancing, I quit! At 14 years old, VHS exercise tapes early in the morning before school became my punishment to myself. The first boy I slept with left me for my so called “best friend” and when I asked her why she told me he wanted to date her instead because she was skinny and he thought I was too fat. This crushed me! And DAMN IT I was not fat (and she was a B!!!) By 18 years old I weighed 110 lbs at 5’6″ and still saw myself in the mirror as “fat”.
As my weight fluctuated in life, so did my self-judgment. I allowed my (ex)husband followed by many boyfriends to dictate what they wanted to see physically in “their woman”. At 27 years old my then-husband had a affair and left me for a 19 year old with breast implants. A freaking 19 YEAR OLD! She was barely out of high school! So there the downward spiral yet again went for me. (By the way, they didn’t last either due to his cheating)
The reason I share some of these details is because you see, none of what happened to me was due to anything I thought about myself, but instead it was everyone else’s judgment that formed those images of who I thought I was. I was so concerned with my physical image that my spiritual self was suffering outrageously. It did not matter that I was physically healthy, successful in my career, 100% self sufficient and a good hearted person. What mattered was what the scale told me. My life purpose is not to focus on loosing weight on the scale. If anything, my purpose should be to loose the emotional baggage/weight that I have incurred from living my life so far.
Physical weight is only a sign to you that some emotional baggage needs releasing.
A couple years before I met my current husband and got pregnant I started practicing yoga. OF COURSE initially it was hot yoga because I only saw yoga as another form of exercise, and unless I was sweating I was wasting my time. But it was only then in the sauna intense room standing in my own sweat shower, that something shifted. My mind shifted. My spirit shifted. What was this shift? I couldn’t tell you then because I couldn’t find the words for it. Initially I thought I just found my new workout! Truth is, this is when my spiritual journey began.
Fast forward a couple years I was getting certified as a Yoga Instructor and Life Coach, married and pregnant, and on a new body image journey. I no longer loathe myself for eating a piece of chocolate or a cookie. As a Health Coach I realize the truth in what moderation actually means. As a Life Coach I understand where my issues originate from in my past, and that we are all living and breathing mirrors to each other. As a Yoga Instructor I have found the love for myself, body mind and spirit, as I am really a spiritual being living inside this human body. I now can honor and respect ALL aspects of myself because of this, and I can honor and respect others on their own journeys too!
Find your own positive body image practice. Mine is through yoga. Yours is through something else, but figure it out! I’ve learned acceptance for all that is, which actually helps making changes easier. It’s not an easy process nor does it happen over night, but regardless, it must happen. We need to reframe society’s expectation of women. This HAS to happen.
Here are some journaling questions that will assist you in beginning your own body image “shift”.
- What is your first memory of when you experienced body shame?
- Who did it involve? (Friend, parent, teacher, sibling, coach)
- What were all the emotions you felt at that moment?
- What emotions do you currently still experience of body shame? Are those the same feelings you felt in the initial moment (question 3)?
- Looking back on that moment now, can you see that the person was imprinting their own self judgment on you? Can you see their own self judgment was really NOT about you, but about how they felt about themselves? (for example: my dance teacher was a thick woman, and did not have the dancer body she criticized me for not having)
- If a little girl shared with you today that she experienced what you did as a child of poor body image shame, what advice would you give her?
- How has this body shame experience held you back in your life?
- Who would you be if you did not experience this moment in time of body shame?
- Instead of consistently allowing your mind to be focused on your physical body and weight, are you willing to look within to see that your body image is really a result of an emotional issue or experience you have been carrying?
- Do you believe that you have a choice in everything you choose to think and believe?
- Are you ready to make the choice to change this belief of poor body image shame?
- What are you willing to do in order to shift this limiting belief? What are you choosing to be your own positive body image practice(s)?
- When will you start by doing these things that will help you? Set dates for yourself in a calendar.
- Do you need an accountability partner or group of women to hold space for you in down times? Who is this person or group?
- How do you need them to support you?
Losing weight is NOT your life purpose!
Learning to LOVE yourself NO MATTER WHAT is!