Monday, March 14, 2011

Pretty Things: Love Your Body, Love Yourself


When I look in the mirror, usually what draws my attention the most are my flaws. For any compliment you can give me, I can counter it with a gripe about how this hangs or how that sticks out. Many of us have been rejecting our bodies for so long that we don't even realize how negatively this affects are overall self-image. Case in point, I can't tell you how many times I've thought "If I was prettier, 'insert stupid boy name' wouldn't have done this" or "If my body did 'this' instead of 'this', I'd feel more comfortable in my skin."

Body image is complicated. We have these high (and ever-changing) expectations that we set ourselves up for; always reaching to achieve this ideal of beauty knowing that we'll never really be satisfied. Plus, how can we talk about loving ourselves on the inside when we haven't accepted what's going on on the outside? Just as I strive to grow in wisdom and spirituality, I also strive to develop my own perception of physical beauty.   That is to say, I'm focusing on what makes me feel beautiful and learning to mitigate the things that don't.

Here's a thought: let's try to work with what we've got right now. Pre-weight loss. Pre-hair growth. Pre-whatever you're working on. Remember that your magnetism and confidence come from within. Let's learn to accentuate the positive in small ways that make us feel good in big ways. Here are a few ideas:

Step up your underwear game. It's amazing how wearing pretty underwear can make you feel like a new woman! Take a look through your underwear drawer and throw away the old, stretched, torn, droopy panties. Invest in good bras that fit you correctly (go get fitted!) and make sure that you have a variety of bras that will work under a variety of tops. Store your pretty underthings neatly and wash them gently and separately.

Invest in professional treatments. I'm not talking about plastic surgery. However, if you have issues with your skin, have you seen a dermatologist? Do you know your options? What about facial hair? Have you explored laser hair removal? Plucking and waxing can cause hyperpigmentation, so they're not the best option for black women. Instead of hiding problems like acne and unwanted hair, learn what your options are and use your grown woman money to find solutions for your grown woman beauty needs!

Dress to accentuate what you love about your body. Don't buy clothes that are on trend but unflattering to your body type. Learn what shapes are flattering on you. I never used to try on clothes, but now I try almost everything on to see how it fits ME. Just because it's cute, doesn't mean it will be cute and/or comfortable on you. It's never cute to be tugging and pulling at your clothes all day, and it just makes you feel self-conscious and distracted.

Get your clothes tailored. So many of us overlook this! I'm 5'9" so I have to wear long or tall pants always. However, if I find a pair of regular length pants that fit great except for the length, I'll buy them and have my tailor let the inseam down. If there's just a slight change that would make that item fit you like a glove, then it's worth paying a few extra dollars to make that happen.

Exercise, Eat healthier, Drink more water. Nothing makes you feel more beautiful than taking care of yourself. Sometimes our dissatisfaction with our bodies comes simply from our awareness that we're not taking care of it like we should. We feel guilty and we see that guilt and mistreatment when we look in the mirror.  Challenge yourself to adopt healthier habits, so you can feel better on the inside and look better on the outside. 

"Don't wait for the world to celebrate you.  Carve out your own niche.  Focus on what's great, forget what's not.  Find joy in your own reflection."   ~Sarah Bon Breathnach

What do you think comes easier - loving your body or your mind?  What's more important?


Em said...

This past December, I was diagnosed with two more chronic illnesses (hypermobility syndrome and fibromyalgia). This was actually a relief for me, because my MDs ruled out a progressive autoimmune disorder. The weeks I spent trying really hard not to worry that I might lose the use of my hands, the ability to smile, and ultimately the ability to breathe, forever changed how I view my body.

My body isn't perfect. My kneecaps frequently slip out of place, my ankles roll, my wrists lock. I can't dance how I used to. But I can do part of a dance class. I can once again sit up for more than 15 minutes. I can pick up a pen and write a grocery list. My body is awesome like that. Even if the you can't do those things and all your body lets you do is be here in this world, that is phenomenal. How can I look at the vessel that lets my spirit be here and connect with other spirits and say "you are not beautiful enough. you are not good enough"?

I don't mean to diminish the pain of body insecurity. I've been there. I've hated everything about how I look. I've risked health and happiness to look a certain way. That changed for me though. Fitting into a size 8 or having a good hair day is something, I suppose. But being able to take a breath (assisted or not) is everything.

GG said...

"Even if the you can't do those things and all your body lets you do is be here in this world, that is phenomenal."

Isn't that the truth??? If we change our perspective to think about how blessed we are to simply be here living and breathing, able to walk, touch, hear and see - we'd be too busy giving thanks to complain. We take our health for granted. We risk our lives getting implants and augmentations - no judgment - but at what point do we ask ourselves why it all matters. We can't take our bodies with us when we pass, but I really do believe that we can take love we experience here with us.

Em, I'm so glad that your doctors ruled out the autoimmune disorder! Your story definitely gives us more food for thought about appreciating our bodies.
We were given these bodies and the experiences we have in them for a reason. We should make the best of it and be thankful :)

Kim Jackson said...

You bring up a good point, Em. We might have less concerns with body image if we understood that healthy bodily function, as well as a host of other things about life, are infinitely more important than the way we look. That's not said to discount it as a real issue because it certainly is, but there are times when we could have better perspective around it.

So glad you received good news and I hope you can continue to stay positive and as healthy as possible.

♥ CG ♥ said...

Excellent tips, GG. It's taken years, but I'm finally embracing areas that I used to be insecure about. You're right, why not accentuate and correct if feasible. It's way too easy to overthink these things. It's more important than ever that I do things that make me happy rather than try to fit someone else's mold :-).

DannieCleo said...

"... Fitting into a size 8 or having a good hair day is something, I suppose. But being able to take a breath (assisted or not) is everything."

I will be having this quote above my bed and on my mirror. It literally almost moved me to tears.
Thank you.

jessj said...

Nothing like a big glass of perspective in the morning. I'm working on this. Working at unlearning all the negative things and just being ok with what's left.

I do agree with taking care of yourself though you only get one you!

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