Confession: I have body image issues.
Not mega-deep, clinical body issues, and not to degrade or demean anyone who has had serious, life-altering, core-rattling body image issues that has wrecked mental havoc in your life and unwelcomely seeped its way your health. That is TOUGH, and you should feel like some version of a superhero for overcoming that. Pat yourself on the back for wherever you are on your journey of recovery. I’m offering you a virtual hug here, no matter how lame or patronizing “pat yourself on the back” sounds. Really and truly. I’m with you, and I see you.
I, too, am critical of my body- the one that helps me run, fights disease, carries me to work, climbs up and down stairs, logs thousands of steps daily, hike and explore outside, and lets me live a dang good life full of strength. That body- I’m unkind, harsh, and judgemental about how she looks on the outside more often than I’d care to admit…even though I know she’s a strong and capable one. I discredit her, and sometimes I call her critical names.
I frequently refer to myself as “fluffy”, but recently I started reading books that talk about how we create our own realities by believing what we say. Our actions follow, and eventually we reinforce our own blessings or curses by what we repeat from our mouths. I’m learning to be kinder to myself.
(Reference: “You Are a Badass” or James 3:10-13…similar messages)
Sometimes I catch myself standing awkwardly in photos in a lame attempt to create a thigh gap that doesn’t exist. See?
I am not even a little bit pigeon-toed naturally, but I’m trying to pose like my thighs aren’t touching. But I fail, because they are.
Sometimes I even run long distances, and you know what? Those thighs still touch, AND I STILL TRY TO MAKE IT LOOK LIKE THEY’RE NOT.
So I call this my “Mythical Thigh Gap”. It’s about as real as any other mythical creature…like a unicorn…although I know there’s a strange following recently that believes in unicorn magic, so if you happen upon a unicorn, please holla if you find my thigh gap.
I did have a thigh gap…once. I was THIRTY pounds under-weight from health complications associated with a recent “moderate to severe ulcerative colitis diagnosis” and I remember crying as I stared back at my reflection in the mirror. I always maintained a love/hate relationship with my booty, but it was completely gone. Flat. And then I realized that I liked my booty all along- what a shame. My legs looked like “chicken legs” and my boobs had shrunk down to a size A Minus, if there is such a size. I didn’t feel like myself, and I didn’t feel feminine. I felt like a small, frail, skinny shell of the person I used to be. I felt unrecognizable.
Slowly but surely, I met myself again and began to recognize her. I learned to place my self-worth in what my body could do as opposed to how it looked. Besides, our bodies are ever-changing anyway. I learned to be proud of my resilience, my intelligence, my stubborn gladness to stay the course, whatever I was doing despite discouragement from haters. Despite rough circumstances, I was given a new chance to love myself from the inside. I became more mindful of the world around me, and I felt a little more child-like and less self-critical. The whole world was brand new in this foreign but pleasant way of viewing myself, the universe, its inhabitants around me, and the people I love.
I found this picture recently, and it reminded me of that new perspective, and most of all, what it was like to be a child: playing in the sprinkler on a hot summer day, not purposely standing pigeon toed, unaware of the false importance of a thigh gap that wasn’t, and completely loving life with the people I love…
…and owning that one piece, high-pony tail, and lack of a thigh gap. No room for waiting until things disappeared to appreciate them; fully and completely appreciating life in the present.
So that’s my advice to you, dear friends. Love your life today. Love your thigh gap if you have one. Love your lack of a thigh gap if you don’t. Love your strength and your intelligence. Love your life, because it’s too short and fleeting to feel any other way. Most of all- Love yourself.