Until recently, my body was my enemy. It defied me, challenged me and downright pissed me off. I wanted it to be something it wasn't. I wanted it to look different, feel different and be noticed by others differently. Pretty much everything about it frustrated me. I would look in the mirror, and see every tiny thing I wanted to change. Why couldn't my thighs be smaller? Why doesn't my belly look different? I spent an exorbitant about of time focusing on these things, punishing this poor body with grueling workouts and a plethora of weird concoctions to make it "behave".
I looked around one day and noticed how often I would hear women discussing their bodies, their plans to change their bodies, their ideas about their bodies, etc... I have heard women walk out of a fitting room and say "I wish I was (insert smaller size here)", and I've heard women say "I wish I was (insert larger size here)". I have heard someone say they don't have "tank top arms". I have listened as friends spent hours discussing their newest diet and what they want to achieve from it. I've been that girl too. I've said all of it. Over the last year or so, I've seen a trend on social media. The curated post goes something like this: A lovely woman shares a picture of herself in a bathing suit, skimpy shorts, a sports bra or some other outfit that reveals more than they might normally on the great wide world of the internet. The caption reads something like "I'm proud of my curves", or another body positive mantra. Then, come the comments: "You're so brave" " I applaud you for posting this", etc...
Look, I'm not disparaging the message. I adore those that are comfortable in their skin. I'm comfortable in mine, and I know the other side as well. I spent a large majority of my life uncomfortable with how I appeared to others. Big time. But what I want to remind all of us ladies out there is this: It's not "brave" to share a roll or two or a stretch mark on the internet. It's beautiful, and it's authentic and vulnerable, but the idea that showing up as we really are is brave is actually part of the problem. There are truly brave women out there, doing things that change the world for themselves and others. Those women are brave.
I sat and wondered what we could accomplish if we had conversation about things that truly mattered. What could we, as women make happen if we spent only 1/2 of this time as advocates for one another or on a cause that lights us up. I imagine it would be a powerful shift. Noticing this conversation reframed everything for me. A light switch was turned on. I saw clearly now how this occurred to others, and more importantly how I was showing up for myself. The amount of time I was spending talking about, thinking about and working on making my body into something else was taking away from time I could spend talking about real shit. I could discuss goals that mattered; goals to grow as a human being; goals that gave me deep, meaningful experiences and made the world a better place.
Don't get me wrong, it's not like I'm sitting here from this high horse all enlightened and shit....that couldn't be further from the truth. I still get in my own head about things, and still succumb to this sort of internal conversation occasionally. But what.I do know now is how to get out of it, and move on. I see when so many of my friends are stuck in this spot, and I know this conversation has to be brought forward.
As women, we spend so much damn time talking about our bodies, and what we are doing to change them. Seriously, pay attention. The next time you're in a group
, keep track of how much conversation surrounds these things. It's staggering. It's as if we believe our most valuable contribution is the skin we are in. We act as if the biggest way we can "show up" to our life and our world is through looking a certain way.
What if we shifted this? Would men take us more seriously? Over time, would it shift the world's impression of women's capacity to contribute? Are we our worst enemy? I don't know the answers to these questions. Maybe not. Maybe there would still be a gender wage gap, or a rampant issue with sexual abuse and harassment. I'm not the person to be able to say so..all I know is what is true for me. I am committed to removing such small conversations. I will strive to aim higher. I will discuss real things. I will share my thoughts on books, and current issues and relationships. But I will NOT reduce myself to a number on the scale, or the body that carries the real me around.
I don't believe we are just born into this world, and gone when we die. I believe in more. If you are inclined to believe that there is more than just the world we live in out there; that a higher power of some sort exists, then I challenge you to view yourself as more than just this body you walk around in. You are full of love and light. You have a soul inside that is the real you. Your body is what carries that precious love around. It's the gift box of our soul. Treat it well. Nourish it, be kind to it and love it. Feed it what feels good to you. Move it to keep it strong and supple. But also recognize that it is NOT who you are. It's a freaking box. It doesn't need to be perfect, because YOU (the real you) are already perfect.