Monday, March 24, 2014

Steps towards Body Love

I get weird, squishy creases when I bend this way and that's OK.
Side note, it's really weird to see my right hip without a tattoo.

When I shared last week's post about pizza 'n' bikinis, I got a lot of interesting responses, but what made me sad were the ladies who said they didn't love their bodies. It got me to thinking about my own progress in loving myself, so I thought I would share it.

Note: I realize that I speak from a place of privilege here. I'm white, medium sized, cisgender, and aside from my teeth, probably conventionally pretty. So I started from an easier point than others do. Still, maybe my advice will give you something to think about, and set you on a path to look for advice from people who have a similar experience to you.

For me, the first step to body love was finding individual parts of my body to love. For one thing, I love my hair. Even before I decided to dye it with henna making it a color that I adore, I loved its length, thickness, and gentle waves. I loved how I could put it in a bun and anchor a bunch of hairsticks, flowers, and other accessories in it.I loved wearing it down my back, or in braids, or in a bouncy ponytail.

Next, I learned to love my eyes. I never thought much about them, other than the fact that they tended to change color from time to time, but my husband loves them, and because he loves them, I love them. If your lover thinks that a part of your body is especially beautiful, ask him or her to tell you why, in detail. It will make you feel all ooey-gooey inside and help you see yourself as your lover sees you.

Somewhere along the way, I decided I also loved my legs. Sure, other people think they're too pale, and they are attached to my excessively tight hips, but I love how long they are, and I love their shape, and I love how elegant I feel in an arabesque with my leg stretched out behind me.

Once I came to love a few body parts, it was easier to be pretty happy with my body in general, and learn to love most of the things that I didn't like, or at least accept them.

Another way to love your body, if you can't bring yourself to be happy with your looks (or if you're already cool with your looks but unhappy about an illness or injury that keeps you down), is to love what your body DOES. The human body in and of itself is a pretty amazing thing, and each of us has probably achieved some cool thing with our body. I love my body because it's pretty good at dancing and that makes me incredibly happy. Maybe you love your body because it grew a baby, or because you can bench press an insane amount of weight, or you ran a 5k, or your body carried you up to some beautiful place where you got the most breathtaking view of your life.

One last thought: Body love and self-improvement are not mutually exclusive. I love my body, yes, but I also dye my hair, I'd like to lose 5-10 pounds, and I'm always working on improving my strength and flexibility. Loving your body doesn't mean you wouldn't change anything about it! I think of it this way: you can love your house, but still want to remodel the kitchen and paint the bathroom. The important thing is to have a healthy attitude about the changes you're making! Love the body you're in, but also love the progress you make with it and the different body you'll have down the road. 

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