No word of the year.
No workout regimes.
I have spent my entire life struggling with my body image. My boobs were too big, my hips curvy and whoa watch out for that muffin top. I remember the first time I realized I noticed my weight - I was in 2nd grade in my dance class. We were all lined up facing the mirror and as I looked around at my classmates I noticed their bodies - some girls were long and lean, some petite and muscular - while I had a round belly and skinny legs. My immediate thought was I look like a pear on sticks. That moment was the first time I felt ashamed of my body.
I can’t say if dance was the cause of my body image issues or if it would have happened regardless. I danced from when I was 5 until graduating college. I was not built to be a dancer, my boobs never fit in the costumes and I never had a flat tummy. I remember my freshman year of high school dieting so much that I started not having a period. My mom, being the amazing helicopter mom that she was (maybe the the first), immediately took me to my pediatrician. He scared me straight and I started eating regularly again. But I have continued to struggle with food into adulthood - from starving myself to secret binge eating to even misusing medications to curb my appetite.
In college, I decided to study nutrition and health so I could learn more about healthy eating. But all the while, my body image issues and poor relationship with food continued. I honestly can’t remember a time that I was happy with my body, except a fleeting moment here and there. I have never loved having my picture taken. Essentially, I am 37 and have never felt comfortable in my skin.
Last year I became aware of the body positive movement from female instagram influencers I follow (Jenna Kutcher, Mommy in Heels & Natalie Borton), promoting self confidence, self love and above all else celebrating the bodies we have as they are. 2018 also brought our partnership with Gina of Nourish and Eat, a body positive and eating disorder recovery advocate and instagram influencer. I felt so inspired by her and her community of survivors and the body positive movement, but I still struggled to internalize the message.
Personally, 2018 brought health issues, nothing super serious, but the remedy has caused me to gain weight. I fight with myself daily to love my curves and overlook the cellulite that plagues my legs and the rolls that were never there before. But my clothes don’t fit - even my ring size has changed. And forget photos, now I don’t like to look at myself in the mirror...ever. I constantly feel as though people are judging me due to my size, causing me to decline invitations and miss opportunities to meet people for fear of this judgment. Meanwhile, never once have I looked at a person and judged their worthiness based on their size.
Why I do this to myself? I know we are our own worst critics, I know that we all struggle with body issues and I know that it is ridiculous. But I continue hating on myself and my body. I am tired of it.
Starting at this moment, I want to learn how to love my body the way it is. Not the way it was when I was 14 or the way I hope it would be once I fit into those pants, but how I look today - every stretch mark, dimple, wrinkle and roll.
To be honest, I don’t have a plan of how I will do this. I will be taking it one day at a time, one hurtful thought at a time. I will be using a piece of jewelry as a tool to help me - selecting a message that will help bolster my intentions and help to slowly adjusting my dialogue with myself. Many of our core messages have come from my personal experience - needing that extra reminder or push to be brave when moving to a new city or be present in the moment and put away my phone. Wearing these messages, especially a ring or bracelet where I can easily see it, truly helps me to remember throughout the day.
Learning to love my body will take time and I know it will be a tough journey. I know I will still be mean to myself. Allowing myself grace to make mistakes, I will slowly accept that I am enough. I know I can learn that my worth does not come from my weight and I am beautiful just the way I am.