August 15, 2010

on the current state of body image...

you are beautiful.

Lately, I've been reveling in the fact that I seem to have nearly conquered something that has been a struggle for too many years. The truth is, I love my body. As simple as that.

I've been going back to old posts I've written about body image and realizing how much I've grown in the past few years. And I can't help but feel so thankful that I never gave up. I used to be desperate to find peace on the inside for how I look on the outside, but I mostly figured it was just something every girl was destined to struggle with - no matter how hard she tried. I used to have have my negative days far outweigh the positive days. I used to look in the mirror and continue to pick myself apart and compare myself to other women, despite trying to cover up those thoughts with praises. One of my friends once told me how important it is to say the positive things out loud - to give your thoughts a voice - in order to conquer feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. I'm glad that I never gave up on that idea.

It's been a long time coming, but I've slowly felt my outlook shift and change. I've absolutely refused to look in the mirror and think negative thoughts without counteracting them with a shower of positive ones.

It really doesn't matter your size when it comes to having a negative body image. I know women tinier than I'll ever be who deal with the same feelings I have. One thing I've learned is that if you don't learn to love your body exactly how it is at this moment, you'll find it difficult to love it no matter how many miles you run or what size skinny jeans you wear. I know so many women who have reached their goal weight and worked so hard to get there, only to have that voice in their head say, "Just five more pounds. Just a little bit more." When I reached my goal weight a couple years ago, I dealt with that exact same thing - and I remember how confused it made me. Angry, too. I thought, Why can't I just be happy to reach this goal?

I realize that it was because I was doing it mostly for the number on the scale. I said I was doing it for myself, but it was mostly because I wanted other people to look at me and hopefully see my idea of perfection. And who can ever be content when that is what they're fixating on? It's never going to be good enough, no matter how hard you try.

Since then, I've worked hard to get my head in the right place. Which is definitely difficult, because these days it seems that we are all urged to be at that perfect level of fitness and body shape. I'm sure Jillian Michaels wouldn't agree with me, but do you know what I think? I don't think that life is about reaching that perfect weight. I don't think our days should be filled with eating the perfect amount of healthy fats and calories. I don't think we should always worry so much about a tiny belly or a chin that doubles when we laugh. At least for me, when I was focusing on all those things it was pretty much all I could think about. It became an obsession. I agree that we should be healthy, but when it comes down to aiming for perfection? It's never a good thing.

What if we stopped beating ourselves up over gaining one pound on the scale? What if we could look at ourselves in the mirror and be okay with the things that don't align with our own ideas of perfection? What if we could look at these beauty magazines and realize that life isn't about being thin, and that the people writing those articles are probably people who have the same insecurities we do? What if we stopped to actually enjoy food we love to eat without feeling like we're breaking a rule? What if we stopped defining our days as "fat days" and "skinny days"?

I do think we should be healthy. I don't think any of us should eat ourselves silly without another thought, but I don't feel like the focus should always be the body we see on the outside. Magazines and TV shows praise women who have lost "10 POUNDS IN 10 DAYS OMG YAAAY!" when they didn't even need to lose anything to begin with. Everywhere we turn it's always: be thin, get skinny, hide your flaws. I always wonder what it would be like if we stopped giving into that lie. Mostly because I don't think any of us are happy with the unattainable standard that some nameless person has set for us.

In my case, I haven't been to the gym in months. I'm ten pounds above that "goal weight" I'd set for myself. I feel a little soft around the edges some days. I still care about how other people see me, and I'll still try to make my arms look thin in photos - but I don't let those thoughts rule me. I still have to fight thoughts of wanting to be skinny, because it's difficult to get away from - but I don't let that change how I see myself as beautiful. I constantly want to say self-depreciating things in front of friends and family - but I try to never allow myself to say them out loud. I've learned that the things you say out loud only reaffirm negativity.

Use your voice to say good things about yourself. That's the beginning.

The journey is long, but I feel like I'm in a much better place right now. And I want to encourage every woman who has ever dealt with insecurities when she shouldn't have. I keep hoping that these little changes we make within ourselves will hopefully change the view of this negative culture that surrounds us. It all starts with us, if you think about it.

Have you told yourself you're beautiful today? And truly believed it?

28 comments :

  1. Well Said wishcake!!
    I have been dealing with that issue since forever and especially when I went on some birth control that made me balloon...these days I try to be healthy and give myself some slack because like you, it became an obsession.
    I'm presently happy but still wanting to lose that 1 stone that is left. It is the juxtaposition that I hope to conquer. I'm taking it one step at a time!

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  2. Posts like this make me want to hug you. I hope I can be where you are confidence-wise someday. You're such an inspiration for my awkward, insecure side.

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  3. Great post! I got to this place about a year ago and have never looked back. The scale is ONLY a number. A number that has little affect on your life overall.

    This is a really cool photo that totally represents what I think of the scale: http://images.ohsheglows.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/IMG_5390.jpg

    Here's the blog post that photo came from: http://ohsheglows.com/2010/08/06/operation-beautiful-virtual-book-tour/

    :)

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  4. You know what: if we don't embrace ourselves and our bodies today, we might look back in a few years -when we're old and wrinkly - thinking that we should have appreciated our youth and beauty so much more!

    Kudos to you for bringing this to everyone's attention once again :)

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  5. Good for you! It's such a tricky thing. When I'm not thinking about my body and how I look in photos, like a couple weeks ago, I don't even give my size/weight a second thought, but everytime I look at photos of myself I wish I was this or that. It's hard!

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  6. First of all, you're amazing. I think it's so inspiring that you have such a good concept of your body, even if it's not at the place "society" deems is appropriate.

    My body image? Pretty terrible, to be honest. I'm super critical of every little flaw and have trouble finding what I like about myself. It's a work in progress, most definitely.

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  7. Wow! What a thought for the day! My body image is terrible...I've struggled for years with mine and I still do. It's such a constant pressure to be thin and I'm trying to develop a healthy relationship with food, i.e. enjoy it, treat myself sometimes but not be over indulgent and remain healthy.

    But Wishcake well done with standing up to the negative comments in the mirror...I shall try to do the same!

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  8. Oh this is so good.
    Everyone talks about body image in their own way, and I especially like your way of talking about it- and the fact that you (like me!) are not exactly where you want to be, you still try to make your arms look thin in photos (like me), but...is that going to be a miserable cycle, or are you going to love yourself? And realize it's not the end of the world?
    Yes!
    Thanks for writing all this :)

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  9. I loved reading your post this morning. It makes me happy that you said that everyone has body issues, whether they are thin or not. My body image is better than it used to be. I am a tiny female, but I consistently struggle with body issues and some women don't understand. They always say, "you're so small and thin! how wonderful!" and then I have my own mental response, "but I'm out of shape and don't feel healthy." The biggest issue for me though is to be in shape and have a healthy body. It isn't about the numbers. It is about feeling good every day. That's what I want. And I must be weird because I don't enjoy reading girly magazines with tips on how to be perfect. It bugs me.

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  10. "Use your voice to say good things about yourself. That's the beginning."

    LOVE. Such a simple idea, and yet so, so powerful.

    Wonderful post! Thank you.

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  11. I really love this. I have found that when I am taking care of myself, I feel my best. And that is completely unrelated to the number on the scale or the size of my jeans. Sadly, when I become insanely busy (such is life this month), I find that taking care of myself is the first thing to go. When really, it should be the last.

    p.s. You're beautiful! ;)

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  12. Thank you. Thank you SO much for this. Every woman needs to hear these words - so much truth.

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  13. I love this, & it's a feeling I really struggle to achieve. But as much as I want to love my body in its current form, I also know that I need to be healthy - & that current-me is not healthy-me. I'm 25 pounds over my ideal weight, over a weight that wouldn't make me "perfect" but would make me "not obese according to medical standards." And no matter how beautiful I sometimes manage to feel, the truth is that I need to feel healthy, too, & not give up health at the expense of beauty - & that goes both ways, too far or too thin!

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  14. Great post! :) There are days where I truly believe I am beautiful but I know I have flaws and I've learned to accept them and try to change them but not obsess over it.

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  15. I adore you, Kerri. Yep.

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  16. thank you for this. i want to be this comfortable with my body. i should be. oh the silly games our minds play with us! :) you are so encouraging, thanks again for sharing!

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  17. Great post. Thanks for this. I needed it today.

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  18. oh hunny, this one totally hit home for me- YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. we are all uniquely beautiful, every single inch. XOXOXO.

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  19. I need to learn to think like this. What do you tell yourself? How do you turn the negative thoughts around? I think what you said about loving your body NOW and not at a future, lower weight is so true- I just don't know how to do that!!

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  20. Great post! When I reached my goal weight, I wanted to lose more too but unlike a lot of people, I realized very soon (within weeks) I was at the perfect weight (for myself) and that I shouldn't even be losing anymore. Overall, I'm happy with my body and even if there are some flaws here and there, I'm really happy with what I achieved.

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  21. So happy for you! I definitely still struggle with body image some days, but most of the time I tell myself it's not worth it. We need more women saying the things you said in this post :-)

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  22. I have been working on this a lot lately. Its harder than a lot of people think! Especially in college when you're in a sorority- there are people everywhere trying to bring you down. Thank you for this entry, it made me feel so confident that I can one day see myself as you see yourself1

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  23. Thank you for this. I admire you so much for your honesty in your posts!!!

    Did you see the shoe clips?! I should be getting better pictures soon!!

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  24. i LOVE this. thank you so much for sharing. our voice is so powerful -- and the negative thoughts are toxic. i, too, am ten lbs above my goal weight, but am learning to be patient with myself and embrace my body as it is -- not that i'm not (slowly) striving to lose that weight, but i realize that i don't have to hate or degrade myself for not already being there.

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  25. Awesome post; I agree that it takes time to get to where we need to be in our own bodies. I'm still working through it but I like to think that I'm one step closer each day :)

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  26. Hey! I just wanted to let you know that enjoy your blog so much that I have awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award. Check it out: http://thebingediary.blogspot.com/2010/08/versatile-blogger-award.html.

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  27. I haven't had internet for almost a month now and I'm going crazy. What's the first thing I do when I get a chance to hop on at a family member's house? Check the Wishcake blog, of course! You never cease to inspire me. Also, I noticed you added a button to your sidebar. I don't know that you ever got a chance to see it, but a while back I made one myself for your page on my list of inspirational blogs. You can see it by clicking on that little link in my sidebar under blogs to love. I was pretty proud of myself! However, yours is the bees knees! <3 xoxo

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  28. I really needed this kind and tactful slap in the face. Thank you.

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