I dare you. Start focusing on body acceptance. Indeed, make friends with your body.
Or, at the very least try.
Does this notion seem silly? Even maybe a bit too much pie-in-the-sky?
Perhaps to some.
For me, this body positivity concept — so far — has been a lifelong process and a very worthy pursuit toward complete self-acceptance.
As a wee girl, I was — usually — a beautiful princess wearing gorgeous gowns (and let’s not forget a tiara). On occasion, I was the queen of the fairies or a mother with babies. In short, I was whatever my mind could conjure.
Nothing but the very fertile mind of a child.
Basically, I was carefree — as all children should be if you ask me. I scampered around, all giggly and wide-eyed with wonderment, excited to be alive and relishing the body which enabled me to show up in the world.
No standards of physical beauty occupied my mental landscape. Purple, pink, blue, shiny….beauty was anything which struck my fancy. Not body shape, hair color or the likes.
I don’t know when reality hit me like a 2×4 on top of the noggin and I realized with dismay I was no princess. Worse, I wasn’t even acceptable “as is.”
With this hefty dose of reality also came this realization: humans place an inordinate amount of value on their physical appearance. And this is something we have little control over without resorting to artifices.
My father expected my mother to look a certain way, a notion she accepted without question. However, the rules were vastly different for him. He was free as a bird to do as he pleased while he had veto power over my mother’s wardrobe (and a great many other things).
I think in many ways the state of their marriage was based on two things: the era they were born in and my father favoring his way above anything else.
Additionally, off the cuff comments and criticisms made about others’ physical appearance gave me a warped view of my body. My build was often compared to my paternal grandfather’s who was now a bolding gray-haired man with a wrinkly, pudgy, and stocky body.
Surely, the comparison was no compliments, was it?
The fact some of my body parts — namely my short legs — looked like his could not be a good thing, right?
Short legs had to be bad. Afterall, my Barbies had impossibly long legs, tiny waists, and large breasts. Everything I failed to possess.
I became so convinced my body was not acceptable, in high school, I refused to wear pants believing my “flaws” were best hidden under skirts.
Body acceptance, what a joke!
To me, body acceptance meant “have your body just ‘so’ in order to be accepted.” The problem was my body feel short of ‘so.’
I never felt beautiful because I always felt I undershot some manmade standard.
In hindsight, I was small and well toned although I never got to enjoy THAT body. I was too busy criticising it. By the time, a hefty dose of common sense entered my brain, the body of my youth was long gone. I now had new complaints: a bit more fat and less “tone”, too much of this, and not enough of that.
Either way, Mother Nature always seemed to shortchange me of the perfect recipe to reach body Nirvana.
What was I hoping to attain with the “perfect” body?
All the things we crave as humans and which I incidentally did already possess
I have an amazing husband — who every day of our 25 plus years together — has lived by the vows he made to me. His love is complete, extravagant, and unconditional. No better man could I find.
We have a beautiful family comprised of happy and healthy children. If this were not enough, we are now endowed with children-in-law and blessed with grandchildren.
We have food to eat, a roof over our head, health and a joyful home.
Moreover, all this was achieved with a less than perfect body!
Who would have thought?
A few years ago, I wrote a Facebook post on my page about body acceptance. It started with this statement: I am not my body!
Really, I am not.
I live in my body but it is not me.
Furthermore, I then proceeded to list all the things I am grateful for about my body: the ability to walk, run, climb, dance, kiss, hug, eat, hold hands, speak, sing, and this list went on for quite some time.
These are the things I consciously do. I could add: I breathe and my heart beats without any input from me.
Moreover, my body grew human beings like a champ, birthed them like nobodies’ business AND fed those babies to perfect plumpness and dimples. My body is Uh-ma-zing!
Is it perfect?
It may not look like the bodies plastered on magazines’ covers but it is nonetheless amazing, beautiful and perfect.
Perfect for me, what I have already achieved and what I will continue to accomplish.
I am grateful for it. Yes! Even the crows feet, the “love handles”….
All. Of. It.
Parenting and Body Acceptance
When I became a mother I never wanted my children to feel about their bodies as I did about mine. I spend far too many wasted decades lamenting something I did not have and in truth, which was completely unnecessary to my happiness.
Love and belonging are irreducible rights of every human being and these rights are not dependant on gender, skin color, religion, or body type.
Which in reality is great news.
If we were to take away makeup, plastic surgery, hair dryers, hair dye, hair extensions, diets, and the Holy Grail…Photoshop, few of the individuals whose body we drool over or we call “hot” would make the cut.
Moreover, physical appearance and happiness are not synonymous.
What Is Body Acceptance?
Body acceptance is a key to freedom and the beginning of wisdom. Before anyone complains about my choice of the word wisdom, I do not mean Wisdom with a capital W, just wisdom. Indeed, there is much wisdom in acceptance of “what is” (in any area).
By this acceptance, I do not mean acquiescence of a wrong or evil. I do mean acceptance of what we cannot change. There are things which we have control over and a great many more we do not.
I am a middle-aged woman who is going gray and is not as svelt as I once was.
Wishing that I was “other” than what I am would not change one wit who I genuinely am.
Yes, I can cover the grays, diet to lose some weight, exercise, put on some makeup, etc. I could even choose to go under the knife.
At the end of the day, I would still be what and who I am.
A middle-aged woman.
Would I be loved more?
maybe but not by anyone who matters.
Would I be accepted more?
Also a maybe, but not by anyone who matters.
You Look Good!
Admittedly, my improved appearance may turn a few heads, Some might say I looked amazing for my age and might even call me hot.
To what end?
Some may care. I, on the other hand, do not.
Not that I do not care to show my best self. The thing is I show up for me as my best self not to gain entry to some man-made club. I am not after groupies or approval ratings.
I am the most content I have ever been. I am happy and grateful.
I feel beautiful.
Did I just write that?
I sure did!
I do NOT feel beautiful like “man, I am so hot, I should be on magazine covers.” Not THAT kind of beautiful. The beautiful I feel is like this: I feel good in my own skin. At peace with who I am. Grateful for all I have. Happy. Serene. Content.
Do I smile beatifically when I see myself in pictures?
However, I now actually do post pictures of myself and I don’t try to hide — as much — anymore.
Because those stinking pictures are not me. They are two-dimensional renditions of my physical appearance. They are without a soul or a personality. Seeing a picture of me won’t tell you much about ME, the person inside the body.
A good photographer can make me look thinner and younger.
Do I always feel beautiful?
Talk to me when I am having a pity party…
I am like you, with good days and bad days.
When I see pictures of those I love. It is not the picture which makes me smile but the emotions I have about the person in the picture.
In my kids’ albums, I have blurry pictures, some with red eyes, and other with less than perfect poses. I don’t care because each picture is a snapshot of someone I love deeply.
Whether the picture is perfect or less than, it is a physical representation of a multi-dimensional being I am connected to through bonds much stronger than the way they look.
Body Acceptance Matters
Body acceptance matters because you cannot expect anyone to accept you completely if you cannot do this very thing for yourself.
Okay, you do not look like as you once did or like you wish you did. I’ll give you that.
We can all rattle off our perceived flaws as if they are proof positive we are unworthy.
The thing is…we are not unworthy.
We are all worthy of love and belonging (I know I sound like a broken record). Indeed, like a broken record I must sound to offset the daily shame-inducing messages which incessantly bombard us.
Shame and self-rejection sell, very well.
If self-confidence and self-acceptance became a “thing”, it would bring some industries to their knees.
In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.
I would encourage you to join me on my body acceptance journey because indeed a journey it is. My body will continue to change and I will have to adapt to these changes.
Will you join me?