When was the last time you looked in the mirror and said something positive to yourself about yourself? Like, “I am beautiful,” or “My body is beautiful.”
Today, I listened to “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera. The song is a decade old and yet its message is as powerful as ever: “You are beautiful… today.” Right now. Not after you lose 10 lbs. Or 25 lbs. Or 100 lbs. Not after your stretch marks go away and you lose your cellulite… after your acne clears up… after your waist gets smaller… your butt gets bigger… you get the kinks out of your hair. Not after you beat the illness you’re battling or your body is functioning at its best. And not after someone else thinks you’re attractive and gives you a flattering compliment.
You are beautiful right now as you are in this very moment.
And yet this truth can be hard for us to accept. Thus, the New Year begins and so do all the new dieting schemes, workout plans, and beauty regimens.
Wrinkles. Stretch marks. “Muffin top” stomachs. Why do these things make us want to cringe a little bit (or a lot)? Cellulite- it happens. But, personally I’ve acted like my world is crumbling when I see a little extra fat than usual on my body.
And when I felt this way, here are some of the reasons why I’ve tried to lose or gain weight in the past:
- I didn’t feel comfortable in my body (not because of other’s opinions but because I literally felt physical discomfort)
- My body wasn’t functioning and moving how I wanted it to move (I noticed I wasn’t as limber, strong, and energetic)
- I was concerned that my weight gain or weight loss was a sign that I was unhealthy and I wanted to be healthy
- I was trying to look more like the other women around me
- I was trying to look more like what I thought was the ideal of beauty
Any of these sound familiar to you? You can probably add your own to the list. But regardless of what’s on this list, what’s most important to note is that some of my decisions regarding my body have been motivated by love and respect. And some have been motivated by fear or insecurity. Some of my decisions regarding my body have fostered wellbeing in my body, mind, and spirit and others have been detrimental.
I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with changing your appearance. I know I love getting a funky new hairstyle and wearing makeup! And as my weight has fluctuated over the years, I’ve enjoyed my body when it’s been more slender and when it’s been curvier. But changing your physical appearance should never come at the expense of your health (whether it be physical, mental, or spiritual) and you should not change your body to adhere to others’ opinions of what is beautiful. If you change yourself it should be out of self-love, self-expression, and to bring yourself to a place of both greater happiness and greater wellbeing. If we ever want to find true happiness, fulfillment, and confidence, we cannot treat our bodies like an enemy. Your body is a gift. And yet it is not all of you. It is not something to “whip” into shape! We cannot become so preoccupied with our bodies—what we look like, how much we weigh, our dress size—that we neglect to pay attention to what’s going on with our minds and souls.
But in a world where we are constantly bombarded with messages that try to make us feel that we have to change something about our bodies in order to be worthy of love, respect, and esteem, cultivating a genuine sense of self-love can be difficult. However, I am so happy to say that 2012 is looking up for women’s empowerment when it comes to this issue! Recently, I discovered three women who are sending positive and realistic messages to women. And they are just three of many! These are the types of messages we must focus on:
1) Lorna Jane ~ She designs stylish active wear for women and also makes it her mission to bring this message to women: “Move. Nourish. Believe.” Here’s a behind the scenes clip of her work and the movement she’s promoting to encourage women everywhere to awaken and energize their bodies, eat foods that truly nourish the body, do things that nourish the soul, and believe that anything is possible. Check this out!
2) Allthingsfabulous101.com ~ The creator of this blog has a warm personality and passion for fashion and make-up. This fashionista is letting other women know that it’s okay to care about how you look without letting how you look be the basis of your identity, self-worth, or confidence. Check out this video to hear her message.
3) Alexa Carlin ~ A college student and entrepreneur, she is helping to re-define what it means to be “perfect.” She is spreading the message that we only need to be brave enough to be ourselves and that “the challenge of life is not to become perfect. It’s accepting that you already are.”
For 2012, I encourage you to make your first priority not losing weight or getting your body to look a certain way, bur rather recognizing the beauty you already possess, sending yourself and others positive messages, and pursuing wellbeing.
***These views and opinions are of those of the guest blogger, Freely Me.