A friend of mine posted the below photo to Facebook. I thought, “Well YES! I’ve been telling you this for years!!” There were many comments from others who feel the same way. Wow, we have work to do in this world, ladies.
So, I jumped onto my blog and started writing this post about how to overcome this hatred that you feel for yourself.
Get a drink, take a seat, and read this post.
I asked a friend, “Tell me, be honest, what do you hate about your body?”
She said, “Truthfully, everything! After my third child, nothing went back to where it used to be! And I still have 12 lbs that won’t come off! I can’t fit in any of my clothes! Everything jiggles! And my “bingo arms” that I worked so hard to get rid of have returned after this pregnancy! My butt is the saggiest that it’s ever been! Ugh!!! I could go on and on! And the sad part of it all is that I know how to try to fix it but there’s no time with working 40 hours and having three little ones! I wish that I could just accept who I am and love it!! “
Does this sound like you? You might be able to relate to some or all of what she said, and I hear these things a lot from my boudoir clients. I thanked her for her openness and honesty. Sometimes we try to hide these feelings from others because we want people to think everything is peachy keen in our lives. But, the harsh reality is that we all deal with these kind of feelings!
She continued, “I’m constantly ‘pinning’ Fitness articles, healthy recipes, and meal prep ideas, buying exercise videos, paying for gym memberships, killing myself to get to the gym and then get my runs in! The intention is there to improve my body image but the time to get it all in is not there for me right now! It’s very frustrating!”
I hated to bring her down a little bit but my initial reaction was that doing all the stuff she mentions isn’t going to change the feelings she has about herself and her body. She’s doing things to try to change the way she looks, thinking that that’s going to make her love her body. Body acceptance doesn’t come from trying to change the way you look. It comes from accepting how you look right now and learning to love yourself regardless of that. You can improve your body image without this stuff. I’m not negating the importance of workouts and proper eating habits but what I’m saying is that this doesn’t change the way you view yourself. You could do all these things -get in workouts, eat healthy, go to the gym – and STILL hate your body. AHHHH. I said it. You can still put yourself through all those activities and still feel the agony that most women feel about themselves. I’ve seen it. I’ve felt it. I’ve lived it.
So, what are we going to do about you hating your body? It all comes with changing your mindset. Here’s my advice.
~Get a New Mirror~
You’re looking at yourself through an outdated mirror. A mirror that holds your past, a mirror that has a distorted view of your appearance. That mirror doesn’t see your heart, doesn’t show you your soul. And, if you feel bad about the way you look, you’re only going to see negative things when you look into it. You have the harshest eyes and you are the worst critic when it comes to yourself. Look at yourself through the mirror of those that love you, that know you to the depths of your soul, who see you for WHO you are and what you give to those around you. You will begin to see their version of you in the mirror. They look with love, kindness, compassion, understanding and acceptance.
One of the reasons I love being a boudoir photographer is getting clients to see themselves through my eyes! The photos I show them are a reflection of themselves from what I see, and there’s something very empowering and freeing in that! Take a leap of faith and let someone else show you the side of yourself you’ve forgotten about.
~Sit Down, Mean Girl~
Your inner mean girl is the worst person of all. She’s constantly saying negative things to you, and never lets you feel good about yourself. How in the world could you possibly feel good about yourself when someone is being mean to you all the time? Think about it. If you had a friend that said all the negative things to you that you say about yourself, you’d drop them, right?!? Gosh, I hope so because no one needs that bullshit in their lives. You are being fed a web of lies from your inner mean girl. Silence her. Break up with her. Tell her to sit down and shut the f*ck up! She has no business being in your head. You have to CHOOSE every day to silence her, and you do that by filling yourself with positivity each and every day. When your mean girl brings those negative body thoughts, say out loud, “I am beautiful!”
~You Evolve As a Human~
Hey, guess what? Life throws us some big challenges, awesome adventures, and major surprises. Stuff you probably weren’t planning on dealing with early on in your life. But, you’ve met those challenges and came out on the other side. CONGRATS! You should realize your growth and evolvement as a person. Once we go through all these situations, we are never the same. We change, we learn, and we grow. You’ve grown to be an intelligent woman, you’ve grown into a kind, caring and loving woman, you’ve grown to have children. Realizing that after each of life’s experience you aren’t the same and you can’t expect to go back to your old self after those times. I think about myself in college. I was a dumb 18 year old when I started, and I was a fairly intelligent woman who left 4 years later, moved to NYC to start a career, and I haven’t looked back. I can’t ever go back to being that young and innocent (well, maybe not so inocent…shhhh, mom) 18 year old. Life has changed me. I have changed, I have evolved, I have been created into an amazing woman. Always remember that.
~Your Friends Are Your Friends For a Reason~
What would your friends say about you? About the person you ARE? The drive you have, the sacrifices you make, the love you give, the compassion you show – how do you rate in those categories? Your friends know better than you do, so ask them. Ask them to write down what they love about you and send it to you. Your eyes are blurred, you can’t see it because you’ve been hating yourself for so long. When you hate, all you see is the negative. They need to help make your vision clear. I guarantee you that the things they will say have NOTHING to do with how you look, because they don’t care HOW you look. They care WHO you are. You need to stop focusing on your outer self and focusing on the inner self. Once you have those notes back from your friends, keep them in a place that you can easily refer to. When you start feeling the negative body thoughts, turn to these notes and remind yourself that how you look doesn’t matter.
~Lock It Down~
Take a look around your social media news feed. Do you see a trend? You probably do. There are messages being thrown at you constantly telling you that you aren’t good enough. No wonder you hate your body. I would too if all I saw when scrolling through Facebook was ads for face cream, fat reducing workouts, exercise for your inner thighs, cellulite removal, face lifts, and it goes on and on. The media preys on the fact that we hate our bodies and they put anything in front of us to show us that we need to change…change for what though? To be loved, to be accepted, to be appreciated. I don’t need stupid face cream that I’ll never use to get those feelings. You can only feel loved, appreciated and accepted when you realize that your true worth lies inside.
Take a moment right now, go to FB. Start blocking all the companies that you see ads for in your feed. You can easily select Hide All Ads from XYZ company. I do it all the time. If I don’t like their message, BLOCK. It’s the best thing about Facebook. You know who I love to follow….Aerie. No, I’m not a teenage girl who needs cute hoodies. But, I love their Aerie Real campaign and their insistence on no photoshop of their models. Real women, showing off their very real bodies – stretch marks, scars, cellulite and all. Do this on Instagram too, unfollow pages that don’t lift you up! YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE THE MESSAGES IN FRONT OF YOU! You have no idea how good you can feel about yourself when you see the real deal.
You’ve heard the phrase looks kill, yes? No? Well, I like to say comparison kills. There’s another important saying that comparison is the thief of joy! Oh my, is that so very true. You know why you hate your body? Because you’re comparing yourself to someone else. And, maybe you’re even comparing yourself to who you were before life’s challenges. How about you just look at yourself right now and accept the fact that you are pretty f*cking awesome as you are! If you find yourself comparing, please praise that person for what they are doing in their life. Giving thanks and praise can remove the need to compare. Always remember, not everyone’s situation is like yours. Your friend may have time to work out because she doesn’t have kids or commitments after work. Your c0worker can bring pre-made lunches to work because their significant other has extra time on their hands to cook. Everyone’s situation is different. It’s very likely that the person you’re comparing yourself to also hates their body. You can never look at another woman and think she’s got it all together, because this struggle is very real for each and every woman. But, if you still find yourself in a world of comparisons, please block those people from showing up in your social media news feed. When you don’t see it, you won’t feel the need to compare – you will only be focused on YOU, which is all that matters. Until you hit that body acceptace point, you have to shut off the comparison need. Keep in mind too, that bullshit exists on social medial. EVERYONE presents their life as this perfect little circle and it’s not true. Chaos exists offline. Stop comparing, start loving more.
You’re running from it. You look down. You avoid all eye contact. You stand in front of the mirror and do everything you can to avoid looking at those saggy boobs, huge arms, big thighs, stretch marks, extra fat, cellulite. Oh, I’m not talking about you ~ my dear reader ~ I’m talking about me! Yup, I avoid looking at myself like the plague. I didn’t want to see it. I wanted to look away, avoid that ugly monster staring me back in the mirror. I’m here to tell you that you need to STARE HER IN THE FACE! Come face to face with that beautiful woman reflecting back at you. That woman who has faced challenges, who has lived life, who has persevered through some traumatic things in life, who has given birth to wonderful children, who helps out wherever she can, who gives of herself wholeheartedly. Once you see it, you aren’t afraid anymore. It becomes normal. You know what helps? Seeing photos of regular woman all the time. My Instagram feed is filled with people who share very real photos of themselves. They’ve taught me that they way I look is completely fine. I see their boobs are like mine, they’ve got big thighs. It’s all perfectly normal. Come face to face with that woman standing there. TELL HER HOW MUCH YOU LOVE HER! Yup, while looking at yourself in the mirror, tell her you love her — whether you believe it or not!
~Through A Child’s Eyes~
Think about this for a second. What do you want your children (or nieces and nephews) to think about you – their mom, aunt, grandma? Do you think for one second your child cares about your “bingo arms?” No. That child cares that you have arms big enough to hold them, arms that can comfort them when sad, arms that can make them FEEL your love for them. They don’t see anything about all this shit you worry about with the way you look. They see how much fun they have with you, they feel how much you love them, they see how much you care for their needs, how much attention you pay to them. Your looks don’t mean a thing to them. I wrote a post recently (linked here) about a photo of me and my niece. I only focused on the weight I’d gained this year (due to issues with my back) and I neglected to see a smiling girl who LOVES to hang out with her aunt. Because, as a cool aunt, I make her laugh, I tickle her, I give her hugs, I kiss her endlessly. She loves me, regarldess of how I look. So, if you’re hating your body, my advice to you is to spend some time with the little people that love you! Focus on the feelings you are giving them and let them warm your heart!
You know what? I hate my arms, but I’m thankful they are big enough to give great hugs to people. I’m a hugger. I want people to feel a hug from me – that hug shows them my passion, my compassion, and appreciation for them. I’ve learned to look at the parts of my body I hate in a new way and be thankful for what they can do for me and those I love. My big thighs can get me moving so I can chase after my nephews, my stretch marks are a symbol of the life I once lived (at 370+ pounds) and I’m thankful for the reminder of the hard work and dedication I put towards being healthier, and those arms give THE BEST HUGS around. Start looking at your body in a new light – be thankful for what it can do, has done, has survived. So much acceptance comes when you give thanks!
~Fear or Love~
When it comes down to it, you have a choice to make when you think about your body. It’s whether you look at yourself with love or fear. We fear many things – fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, fear of being judged. Fears that can be the reaction you have IF you let it be. You can choose to look from a place of love. I wake up every morning and say to myself, “Good Morning, Maura. I love you. You are beautiful.” I start my day off coming from a place of love. I’m going to eat healthy because I love myself so much. I’m going to talk positively about myself because I love the woman I am. Fear or Love? You have a choice.
The struggle of hating your body is real for almost every single woman. You could easily look at someone and think, “Wow, they’ve got a great body.” But, the reality is that you have no idea of the struggle of that woman – they have things they hate about their body too. You have to let go of (maybe even mourn) the body you thought you’d have to be able to accept the one that you do have. Release all of the negative thoughts, appreciate your body for all it does for you, and begin to settle into a place of love. Your body loves you, it gives you breath, it carries your heart, it’s the vessel for your soul – it wants so much for you to embrace it!
So much freedom is to be found when you can accept yourself just as you are. All that worrying, all that struggle — when you let go of that, you’ve created so much free space in your mind. Just think about all that you can do with that new space in your head and your heart….
You can love more, do more, BE MORE!
There’s no magic wand you can wave to instantly love your body, and there’s no amount of changes you can make to it to feel at peace. It’s staring you directly in the face and so desperately wants your love – it’s time to give that love. No more rejection, no more battling, just a total embrace of love.
Learning to love your body isn’t going to come from trying to change it. Loving your body comes from changing your mind. It’s a CONSTANT battle. You will face it every day, and you have a choice to make – love or fear. Make the right one.
I’m starting a journey in my private Facebook group called the Fill Your Soul Project. If you want to participate, please join using the below link: