Body Confidence. It’s something we all want to achieve, but not always in the healthiest of ways.
A recent meme I came across on my Facebook newsfeed from the ANAD – National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders page inspired me to write this post. See it below:
This statement is so true. The thing about the “perfect” body is that it really doesn’t exist. Yes, there are people out there like Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Angelina Jolie, Matthew McConaughey, etc. who have pretty nice bodies, and faces. But, they don’t have the “ideal” body for everyone in the world. Everyone has their own preferences of what they find sexually appealing, but the westernized version of the “perfect” body is what we (Americans) seem to obsess over and will do ANYTHING to achieve it.
So, what if you did achieve the “perfect” westernized body? What would you do? What would you think of yourself? Would you be 100% happy with your life? Would all your hopes and dreams come true all because you have the “perfect,” lean stomach? No, you would not… But, yes, maybe you would be more confident in your body, you’d show it off, right? Probably not… You’d most likely obsess over another part of your body that’s not “perfect” and obsess over that too.
This is not my point though… The statement in this meme “Body Confidence does not come from trying to achieve the ‘perfect’ body, it comes from embracing the body you’ve already got.” This means to love, respect, and appreciate your body regardless of what the scale or tape measure tells you. It means to love your body unconditionally. Unlike a mother/father-child relationship though, the relationship we have with our own bodies is not always so easy to love unconditionally.
Loving our bodies unconditionally is not something that we learn to do as we get older, it’s something we unlearn to do as we grow with age… From the time we were born and into our pre-teen years, we already love our bodies. It’s a natural human instinct to obey our bodies natural rhythms and needs. But, we are conditioned (especially in our culture) to despise our bodies if they don’t meet a specific mold over time. Our parents, relatives, and friends (usually unintentional) teach us if we should or should not love our bodies.
How many times as a kid did you hear your family members degrade themselves in front of you for eating that extra piece of cake or put themselves down because their stomachs aren’t flat enough or their thighs are just too big? I heard it A LOT in my younger years… I don’t blame them – they too were victims to this vicious cycle of teaching our youngins’ to hate their bodies. Like I said, it’s more times than not, unintentional… And that’s the sad part, we, as adults, don’t realize what we are teaching the next generation. We don’t realize that a simple word or phrase that we think nothing of can be detrimental to that little one’s confidence in their own body. That someday, when they turn out to look just like you they too will turn against their bodies by being so critical of themselves and in turn keeping that same body-hatin’ term or phrase within the family for generations.
A BEAUTIFULLY-written letter from an excerpt from Dear Mum, a collection of letters from Australian sporting stars, musicians, models, cooks and authors revealing what they would like to say to their mothers before it’s too late, or would have said if only they’d had the chance. This one letter from an author named Kasey Edwards titled “When Your Mother Says She’s Fat” really outlines the effects a mother’s self-hatred towards her body can have on her children’s own relationship with her/his body. Edwards addresses the issue while also attempting to stop the cycle by not repeating her mother’s mistakes with her own daughter. It’s a MUST read – click on the link above!
So, am I saying to stop working out and eating your broccoli and to just love your body? Well the latter is true, but I don’t think we should all stop taking care of our bodies. Exercise and proper nutrition is CRUCIAL. I am a HUGE advocate for an active, healthy lifestyle. BUT, there’s a fine line between being active and healthy and being obsessive and engaging in unhealthy behaviors to achieve a “perfect” body. Refer to one of my past posts Finding that Happy Medium. There’s nothing wrong with having a cookie, piece of cake, or cheeseburger every once in a while!
Now, do I always embrace my body? No, not always… I’ve found myself not liking the way my arms look in a picture and find myself criticizing my not-so-perfectly-flat stomach. I find myself bowing down to the westernized body ideal. BUT, then I remind myself of all the AMAZING things my body has and is doing everyday. My legs have taken me across three marathon finish lines and MULTIPLE other race finish lines, my arms and hands have helped me write some pretty awesome, and award-winning essays, my body has been through so much and endured even more. My body is pretty freakin’ amazing! And so is yours!
The human body is AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL! That’s why we need to nourish it and take care of it. Don’t deprive it, harm it, degrade it, or belittle it. YOUR body is the ONLY body you will ever have! It’s OK to gain or lose weight, as long as it’s with healthy intentions. Our bodies go through some pretty incredible changes throughout the years – embrace them my friend and enjoy the transformations, and most importantly – love and respect your body each and every day. 🙂