It seems that everyone struggles with loving their body at some point in their life. You can learn to appreciate your body! We can love our bodies no matter what they look like when we choose to see them as tools instead of just pretty things. Worrying about weight loss, plastic surgery and if we measure up to a certain beauty standard, distract us from the amazing blessing of having a body, no matter what it looks like.
Hey all! I’ve had some deep thoughts swirling the last few days that I really want to share with you all. I’ve been ruminating on our miraculous bodies and how we act, think and speak about them.
If you’re a woman, then chances are REALLY good you’ve experienced some body angst. Our world is just too obsessed with physical perfection for any of us to grow up in it without feeling a little (or a LOT of) insecurity surrounding our looks. Deep down we all know that it isn’t right to feel this way, but most of us aren’t really sure how to overcome it. I’ve been blessed with a few years of experience and gotten a fair amount of use out of my body (bearing 7 kids is a fair amount, right??) that I feel blessed to have overcome some struggles in this regard. I want to share with you a few steps I think we can all embrace when it comes to how we view our bodies.
The first thing I want to really emphasize is this:
You are NOT your body.
I believe that everyone has a physical body that houses a spiritual soul and that our bodies are only a portion of who we are. In fact, it’s a portion that we have little control over. We can’t choose how tall we are, or our hair or eye color (even though we may try!) or the basic shape of our bodies. We can’t choose whether or not we tan or get freckles, or whether or not we need glasses or braces. And yet, all too often, the world judges us as if these physical features DEFINE us. They most certainly do not! It can be hard to let go of past trauma regarding our bodies; abuse, taunting, snide comments or insecurities can be deep seated and very damaging. But it’s important to remember that these things are not who we are.
We are more than our bodies!!
Secondly, we can influence the world’s obsession with bodies, for good. I am sad and ashamed to admit that a person’t body shape used to be the very first thing I noticed about someone. I didn’t mean to do this, and I have worked hard to stop this habit, but it was an automatic reaction I acquired after years of being obsessed with my own outward appearance. I think our greatest influence in this area begins with our daughters and sons.
Did you know that what you say about your OWN body can influence your children just as much as what you say about THEIRS? None of us would even consider insulting our childrens’ bodies and yet we often think nothing of ridiculing our own bodies in front of our kids.
If we want them to respect their own bodies and those of others, we have to model respect for our own.
Luke and I have talked a lot about this and have decided on some basic rules for our house: we obviously don’t call anyone “fat” but we also avoid the word “skinny”, and instead we focus on words like “strong” and “healthy”. We want our kids to focus on how they feel, instead of how they look.
On that note, I’ll share with you that I’ve made a personal decision that I won’t alter my body surgically. This is obviously not a very popular decision in some circles and I have lots of friends and family that have made other decisions in this regard…this is in no way meant to shame or judge anyone for their decisions! If you want to have some surgery, go for it! Just because I don’t want any doesn’t mean you can’t make that choice for yourself.
But, I personally would only choose this route for purely selfish and vain reasons, and so I’ve decided that it’s not the path for me. I love the idea of embracing every stage of life, no matter what it looks like (and trust me, my abs don’t look like much anymore!) and not fighting the inevitable aging and sagging process. It’s just a losing game, after all. Again, I am not aiming to make anyone else feel badly about choosing plastic surgery and I completely understand reconstructive surgeries…I just don’t plan on any myself.
The next step is to truly, TRULY appreciate our bodies. This is so hard, I get it! You just want to lose 15 pounds or really tone up your rear end. Or stop having people ask you if you’re pregnant when your baby is 4!! But here’s the thing…
Our bodies will never measure up to the world’s standard of perfection; it’s ever-changing and too impossible to reach.
But our bodies are so incredible! It is truly a divine miracle that two miniscule cells can combine to create the jaw-dropping complexity of the human body. When something does go wrong with our bodies, we often marvel at how many minutes, days, and decades our bodies function normally without our even giving it a second thought. Now, I am speaking as someone who has not had to endure any serious bodily trials (except for one not-so-fun altercation with an open flame in my youth…yikes!); my body is whole and for that I am forever grateful. But perhaps those with serious scars, lost limbs, death-defying illnesses and other broken bodies can attest even more intently how wonderful it is to have a body that can do what we need it to do.
A little disclaimer at this point: I obviously take time on my appearance; I wear makeup, sometimes color my hair and really enjoy dressing fashionably. Some might argue that this is vain and that I shouldn’t need these things if I truly appreciate my body as is. And they may have a point! But doing these things actually does help me appreciate my body, and I really try hard to strike a balance between working on the exterior and on the interior.
On this note, showing gratitude for our bodies begins with treating it right. If we don’t love how we feel, we can make changes! We can eat better, we can exercise, we can get more sleep. These things will help us to maximize our bodies’ potential and realize all the good they can do for us. We have so many resources available to us in the form of good foods, holistic remedies and medications; we should all fight for good health!
Lastly, if you still struggle with hard feelings towards your body, find something that it can do for you! Make a goal to run a race, participate in a competition, or just go outside and jump on the trampoline with your kids. While for me, pregnancy and birth have been the turning points in how I view and appreciate my body, many women are terrified of motherhood simply because of what it means for their appearance.
I can think of nothing more tragic than a woman missing out on being a mom, only because she fell prey to the world’s definition of beauty. Flabby skin, stretch marks and extra pounds are nothing in comparison with the ability to conceive, carry, deliver and breastfeed a perfect tiny human; and while not everyone gets the chance to have these experiences, they have forever changed how I perceive my body. I hope motherhood also helps you appreciate your body!
If you’re in the baby bearing phase of life, check out my series on having an informed, amazing birth experience! Read about epidurals, c-sections and more HERE!