there was something that occupied,
although not the majority of my thoughts
in the week before our trip to hawaii,
a good portion of them.
this thing was body image.
i (as most women seem to) have struggled
with my body image since high school.
i've always had a little belly
upon which i have fixated most of my negative attentions,
and no amount of running, yoga, weight lifting, or dieting
has ever successfully flattened my stomach to my satisfaction.
although now, with my painstakingly cultivated mid-20s wisdom,
i have learned to focus more on the positives of my body
(i love my butt, my long legs, my defined collarbone
and my deceptively strong arms),
i still find myself feeling self-conscious about my little pot
(as i have affectionately begun calling my belly
since watching pulp fiction).
so before our trip,
i carefully tried on each and every two-piece bathing suit i own
after again rejecting the idea of buying a tankini
(i try them on every year, thinking they will be the perfect compromise
of two-piece and added coverage,
but they always seem to end up making things worse)
and i decided that my number one bathingsuit
was my brown strapless bikini
purchased two summers ago to better facilitate
a strapless tan before our wedding.
paul helped me decide, and,
as he understands my sensitivity,
was very supportive.
but in the days before our trip,
and in the time after arriving and before heading to the beach,
i made a decision...
to just stop being self-conscious.
this is my body,
i said to myself,
and although every little part of it isn't perfect,
every little part of it is me.
and even if i can't totally stop feeling self-conscious,
i can stop acting that way.
so i put on my lovely brown strapless bikini
and we headed out to the beach.
when i was there i refused to lie the whole time on my stomach
or dig a little pit in the sand to lower my bum into
(thereby stretching out my torso to appear more flattering -
advice given by more than one women's and fitness magazine
that i have read over the years)...
i laid out on my beach towel, propped my head up on my beach bag
and began to read my novel.
when i wanted to sit up, i did so brazenly
without worrying whether my tummy was showing any rolls.
when i wanted to head into the ocean for a swim,
i walked proudly down to the water
without worrying whether my midsection was jiggling a little too much.
and do you know what happened?
i felt empowered.
i mean, seriously empowered.
my self-consciousness melted away
and all the things i'd been telling myself
about how i am beautiful the way i am
became absolute truths.
and although there were still moments of doubt,
like when i was trying on a dress that just didn't seem to fit right
or when i caught glimpses of gorgeous, flat-stomached women on the beach,
overall i felt perfectly happy with my body the way it was.
this feeling carried right on through
all the way home,
and a few days after our return when i joined two very fit friends
for body-art and zumba classes at our gym,
rather than feeling inferior and lumpy
as perhaps the old meg would have felt,
i looked at the three of us lined up in the studio mirrors
and felt beautiful and fit next to my strong and slim friends.
this experience has made me realize
that body image is truly in your mind.
i honestly believe that my body image now
is the best it's ever been.
not just because i am working hard to be fit,
but because i choose to see myself in a positive light
rather than focusing on the things i don't like about myself.
(stocking my house with flattering mirrors doesn't hurt either...)
think positive thoughts about yourself,
and you'll start to see yourself in a positive light.
and that's all there is to it.