My body has been there for me through the good times and the not so good times. It has endured the abuse I put it through in my youth and early adult years, and was strong enough to carry and birth two beautiful babies in two different ways.
But the sad truth is... I didn’t always love my body.
A Picture Of Perfect Health
For a very long time, I felt pressured to make changes to my body so I can be the picture of “perfect health.” On the cover of nearly every magazine, and in countless television ads and shows, perfect health was dictated by physical appearance. My self-image was cracked and shattered between the harsh demands—an ideal weight for my height, my waistline had to be a certain size or else I was in the danger zone for a host of illnesses, and not to mention, cellulite and stretch marks were purely evil, requiring immediate banishment from the face of the earth.
I bought into the hype and set out on a mission to be “perfect.”
Nature ruled. And as I grew older, things stretched, expanded, sagged, and C cups were a thing of the past as I inched up the alphabet. I spent years looking at my body with critical eyes. I got on the scale every day and chastised myself for even a difference of a pound from the previous day. I looked at myself with disdain in mirrors.
From the bright glaring lights in my bathroom to the distorted views in dressing room mirrors, I took every opportunity to look at my body and remind myself that I did not look like the perfect picture of health. I was tired of the self-loathing. Not liking my body was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting work and I was tired of working so hard for something that didn’t leave me feeling good.
I Was Ready For A Change
It has taken some time to get to this place of self-acceptance and body love. The more I opened myself up to a new way, the more tools I discovered to keep me on track. Through meditation and prayer, I learned how to diffuse negative thoughts and emotions. My yoga practice grew stronger and began to mirror the new love I had for myself.
Instead of falling in and out of asanas and chastising myself for not being strong enough, I learned to approach each pose with a sense of strength and detachment. I often practiced in a room with a big mirror, and I would very carefully watch my alignment in each pose. One day, I realized that I was doing my entire practice with my eyes closed. It felt different; I felt more connected.
If I could connect to my yoga practice more with my eyes closed, then maybe I could also connect with my body on a deeper level too. I thought about the movie Mask (1985) starring Cher. In the film, Cher’s character (Florence) has a son with a rare disorder that causes his face to be disfigured. He falls in love with a girl who is visually impaired, yet avoids letting her touch his face for fear she would realize how he looks.
One beautiful day while sitting in the park, he reluctantly lets her touch his face in order to see him. As her fingers gently and curiously explore his face, he begins to make excuses for his looks. She continues stroking his face saying that he is beautiful and that there is nothing wrong with him. This scene spoke volumes to me: I could learn to see the beauty of my body with touch.
Learning To Love My Body
I learned to love my body by closing my eyes and feeling my body. I lovingly touched those areas that I had spent countless times criticizing in the mirror. With my eyes closed, I felt the strength of my body and the lightness of my spirit as I breathed.
I soon learned to love my belly, whom I affectionately call “Mr. Smiley,” because of the cute fold it makes when I sit down. In a perfect world, I would be able to tell you that it is always peaches and roses between me and my body. But that is not the truth.
What I can tell you is that on those days I can’t comfortably get into my jeans, and those courageous times I hop on a scale only to be shocked by the numbers, I quickly close by eyes and get back to the love thing. Sometimes it is easy; other times, not so much. But I can always get back to loving and appreciating my body, which I call a shell for my soul.
My body is beautiful. YOUR body is beautiful—every single curve, every line, every dimple – pure beauty. Don’t believe me? Close your eyes right now and begin to see your body through the glow of your heart. Breathe deeply and feel your body. Feel its strength, feel its support. Be grateful for your body...because your body IS beautiful and it loves you.