Loving my body and all that I am was, and continues to be, a long journey. Many women struggle with loving their body, especially once we’re out of our magical twenties. You know, those precious few years we can stay up all night drinking PBR and still maintain our girlish figures? Yeah, those years are over now, and we are feeling it. There are evenings when I’m out with my friends and I see women almost ten years my junior – I admit, I used to feel an ugly twinge of jealousy. However, after working on myself and defining who I am, I no longer feel that way. When I see young, fresh-faced women at the bar, I smile. I am looking at beautiful women having a great time! Why wouldn’t I be happy? My self love allows me to love everyone else. When you have love for yourself and others, life in your thirties is a lot more fun. Today, I want to help you have a little fun, and teach you a couple of my successful self love methods.
LOVING MY BODY: A HEADACHE
Look, I’m not a yoga guru or a psychic astrologer or a candle pervert or a life coach or even just a generally well put-together woman. I am none of these things. I am messy, loud, and dramatic. Just yesterday, I was having so many dramatic meltdowns, my husband and I started numbering the tantrums like it was a boxing match (we both lost). But that’s okay. It is who I am. I am not better than anyone else, nor am I worse. I am here, taking up my space. I love myself just as I am. Self love is a journey.
I struggled a lot, as I’m sure many women reading this have struggled, to find my footing. That is why I am writing this – I want to help other women. As a teenager and into my early twenties, I was bulimic. I remember staring at the women in Seventeen and Cosmopolitan and feeling completely inadequate. My friends at the time, while not ill intentioned, joked about my disorder, asking me to please not throw up while they were in the stall next over. They didn’t know any better. This is how women grow up. I laughed with them, all the way to the toilet. I would later learn I was not the only one in the group who was struggling with food. Perhaps we were all making the same jokes to cope.
I was also questioning my sexuality. My fellow bisexuals will understand the unbelievably confusing back and forth. I have been so incredibly lucky in my life – all of my friends have always been accepting and welcoming; I have literally never had to explain my sexuality to anyone. I’ve always been accepted. Even still, the internal struggle of honesty with my sexuality has monopolized many drunken conversations with my best friends. (By the way, gang, thank you). If you are struggling with your sexuality please check out these resources. And now, as a 31 year old bisexual woman married to a man, I am experiencing bisexual erasure. The thing is…actually, you know what? Let’s save that for another post. It’s time to get down to the business of loving yourself and there are a few very important things you need to know.
EVERYTHING ONLINE IS A LIE
Instagram, and all social media for that matter, is a big fat lie. Studies show that Instagram negatively affects body image. We truly are up against it when it comes to loving ourselves in our thirties. When we log on to these platforms, we are fed a barrage of beautiful women advertising all the products in the known universe geared toward correcting our flaws. Oh, and your flaws trend like fashion. How cute is that? Are thin eyebrows in? Here’s some wax to trim you down. Blotchy skin when flawless porcelain is the hot thing? Here’s an ointment that costs more than my apartment. What these ads fail to tell us is that these models are retouched, photoshopped, and given professional makeup and lighting. The vast majority of women will never look like this, and until we realize that, we will never be happy. We will always be chasing the impossible. Check out Instagram Vs. Reality for a fun little rabbit hole.
The truth is that some women are tall and some women are short. Some of us are blond, some of us are brunette, some of us have giant hips (shout out to me), and some of us have the natural body of a supermodel. At the end of the day, it really does not matter whether or not you fit society’s mold. You are you, and for that reason alone, you belong. We are glad to have you here!
So, be honest with your body. I am never going to be a size 4. I have wide hips, broad shoulders, and a mouth that does not quit (eating and talking). I don’t need to be a size four. I’m beautiful as I am, a perfect size 10, with my gray locks and crooked tooth and child-bearing hips. My big clown feet are perfect for marching in the streets for equality.
TAKE CARE OF WHAT YOU LOVE
I have a cat named Dolly. She is my world and so, naturally, I take care of her. I give her everything I can. She eats the finest food, has more toys than I did growing up, and I’m pretty sure she has more furniture in this apartment than my husband and I. Why? Because I take care of what I love. And, these days, I make sure that love translates to me, and to my body, and my whole self.
I drink fruit smoothies and eat my vegetables. I stretch every morning. I go outside and get my vitamin D. I move my body and keep my heart rate up 30 minutes a day at least 3 times a week. I read at least 50 pages of a book every day. I limit my alcohol (to a point, let’s not forget we’re in a collapsing society). I drink my water. But I do have one little secret. One more important factor to loving yourself. At least, this one last puzzle piece is what got me to where I am.
DANCE, DANCE, DANCE!
When in doubt, dance it out. I am never more in tune with my body than when I am dancing. I draw the shades in my apartment, put on my headphones and jump right to my favorite playlist. I’m not just dancing though, no – I am dancing with intention. As I dance, I take my hands and move them up and down my body. Over my shoulders, my chest, my hips and legs. I take time to thank every part of my body, to appreciate the way it moves, the way it knows me, and the way it responds to my emotions. When I dance, I am connecting my mind to my body, getting to know myself intimately. Through dance, I have learned every bit of cellulite, every beautiful roll of fat, every defined muscle in my biceps and back. I have learned limitations and I have surpassed goals. I am most alive when I am dancing.
THANK YOU FOR BEING
I want you to do something for yourself today. I want you to look in your mirror, no makeup, no nothing. And I want you to fall in love with yourself. Point out what is beautiful. The color of your eyes, your hairline, your skin tone, your smile, your laugh lines, your teeth. Thank your body for every attribute it has given you. You get one body. Make sure you’re loving yourself at least as much as you love your cat.