How fortunate are we to live in a society where some of the biggest daily battles many of us face are the ones with the mirror?
Thighs, you are bringing the thunder a little too loudly these days. Since when did these jeans decide to boycott me? What is this nugget of flesh between my underarm and boob? Why is my butt shaped like that? Okay, abs, you can make your debut any day now. Hair, thank you for not looking like Kosmo Kramer today; three days in a row was plenty. I thought acne was for adolescents, so what the hell is this s#*!? How did my legs triple in size by simply sitting down? And belly, why do you have to bubble over my pants like that? Sitting is no longer an option at social gatherings.
Sound silly? Or maybe it sounds familiar? These are just a few of the nicer things I used to say to myself during my daily battles with any and all reflective surfaces. I’m sure you can relate to at least some degree, because let’s face it, we’ve all been taught to be displeased with our physical selves at some point in our lives. We see advertisements and absorb propaganda from every direction telling us what we need to do to improve ourselves all day every day, and so often more than not it is based on physical appearance and the way others perceive us. It’s a poisonous environment, friends, and if you can’t identify that, you’re in trouble. And if you’re someone who judges another harshly on outward appearance, well, you’re probably an asshole.
So here’s a fun and somewhat obvious fact: I am a woman. I have curves. I also have curly hair, double jointed elbows, and uneven dimples on my face. These are some of my physical traits. A few years ago, I worked obsessively to improve these things (minus the elbows, I’ve always been fond of those little weirdos). Now all I can think of when I reflect on that time is how? How could I be so self-absorbed and shallow? How could I let such negative thoughts consume me? How could I tell others to love themselves and be confident if I was as far from that as we are from the moon?
Fortunately, due to extremely unfortunate events, I have made leaps and bounds and somehow broke free of the chains of discontentment and belittlement. For me, it took witnessing the death, near death, and process of dying loved ones to get a grip and see the bigger picture in this thing called life. I am forever grateful for these events, and especially grateful that they happened in my early twenties, because these are my current internal thoughts and conversations I have regarding my body and appearance:
Thank you, curls, for being easy peasy lemon squeezy and doing what you want so that I don’t have to waste any more time trying to “fix” you. I love you, big healthy legs, for being strong enough to climb mountains, volcanoes, and run half marathons. Gosh, my dimples may be uneven, but when they are showing, so are my big straight pearly whites. Thank you, body, for being healthy today; you may not be tomorrow, so I’m going to do everything in my power to use you while I can.
I haven’t become cocky. I haven’t become self-obsessed. I have, however, embraced my natural beauty, something I wish more people could find the courage to do. It’s liberating. It frees up so much time and anxiety and welcomes room for better and more meaningful conversation and experiences. It allows me to have a beer or glass of wine with a friend and hear about what’s going on in their lives without fighting anxiety about what my drink is going to do to my belly or how long I’ll need to run to “work it off.” Pth. One can’t be fully aware of the time wasted on such concerns until you are free from it.
I wouldn’t wish the life events my family and I went through on anyone, but at the end of the day, they taught me lessons and gave me wisdom and confidence that I wouldn’t otherwise know. This life is very temporary. Should we spend it condemning ourselves and constantly trying to achieve some aesthetic goal? Should we waste a little more time giving ourselves anxiety because the people we follow on Instagram are ripped and have perfect skin and hair? (By the way, if that speaks to your soul, I’d advise you to take a little hiatus from social media for a tick, or at least weed out the things that make you feel inferior and make you anxious.) Or should we just embrace who we are and focus on living full, healthy lifestyles?
*Side note, I understand that my boyfriend is one of those ripped Instagram people, and we will get to my thoughts on that in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned.*
I love and now embrace my curls and curves, but more importantly, I love the person I am. I love my lighthearted and adventurous spirit. I love my willingness to talk to strangers and ability to have the deepest of deep conversations over a pint in Irish pubs. I love my ability to make others feel loved and important. I love that I can finally publicly announce that I love myself, despite my physical and character flaws, and I don’t think it’s conceited to say so. It is my goal and hope to empower others to do the same. If you can’t, please feel free to reach out to me and we will talk about it. I’ll do my best to dive in and help you see your beautiful badass within, and at the very least make sure that you feel loved and appreciated.
The Humble Lion