5/17/11

on body image.

 {from here}
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.


15 comments:

  1. This is such a powerful post! I've been struggling with this lately, especially because I haven't had the time to be as active as I like, so I feel dumpy and feel like I look that way. Thanks for the boost!

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  2. This was absolutely amazing to read. I've been struggling with body image, and have had very negative feelings toward myself. Thank you for your words of encouragement :).

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  3. thank you for your story and wise advice :) sometimes I also feel like my stomach will ever be flat enough for my satisfaction, BUT I also try to remind myself that life is too short to stop LIVING, in pursuit of a worthless society-defined ideal. Plus my body can do so much, despite its minor flaws. Nobody is really perfect! In fifty years we are all going to look back on these days and think "how amazing I looked, and how fun and unpredictable life was." Definitely not "oh geez remember my *insert body image issue*" But I still need posts like this as a reminder !

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  4. Thanks for posting this! What a great reminder and great advice. So often I look in the mirror and don't like my little bit of stomach pudge. And even though I am working on losing some of it, even if a little remains I'm going to try to look at it as beautiful and part of me!

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  5. I loved loved this post of yours.I actually needed the sane inspiration.I also got that small tummy which look odds at times and I am always thinking about how to reduce that.But reading your post gave me an idea that we'd think about the positive things.It's all about mind set.I loved the great piece of writing in long :) xo xo

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  6. What a fabulous post and an awesome time in your life!!!! I love it. I am happy for you...and happy for all the lovely people who happen across this post....GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!! **perpetual smile**

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  7. I think every girl goes through this, no matter how hard she tries. I have the same issues with my stomach. I think as women, we just have more fat around that area :/ I bought a red bikini last month and am debating on whether or not to wear it to a amusement park on memorial day weekend..i think i will now :)

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  8. Aww, I love this post. We all go through it and are definitely our own worst critics. I'm so glad you wrote about this.

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  9. Meg! This point was perfect timing. I've spent years fighting caring about how I look - figuring that dealing with other health issues was always more important - but the last few weeks, or few months, have particularly tested my resolve as I've been in a new city, making new friends, meeting new people, and constantly judging everything about me, including how I look compared to others, and how I'm not the super skinny girl with the amazing bikini body. This post was very inspiring, and I'm so happy you posted it :) I'll remember it whenever I'm criticizing myself in the weeks ahead, and keep in mind that there are things I love about myself, and that I shouldn't let anyone else define "perfect" in my head.

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  10. Preach to the young teens please! This was awesome! Seriously everyone feels this way! And thank goodness we have the power to change our presumption when it comes to how we feel about ourselves. I loved this post!!

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  11. I loved reading this post. Well done. I hope you have a fantastic tan from your holidays :)

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  12. i love this post, and good for you!!
    two quotes popped into my mind:
    "oh, how i regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year i was twenty six. if anyone young is reading this go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don't take it off until you're thrity four." -nora ephron
    "i believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls" - audrey hepburn

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  13. Hello! I really needed to hear this. I am currently training for a bikini competition and have come to realize a lot in the last couple weeks. IT's been this crazy dream to do it once, you know mark it off the bucket list... I feel so crazy! anyway I am so excited I found your blog today! I can't wait to go back and read your older post! I would be delighted if you would stop by my blog and tell me what you think! I am also having a giveaway you might like.

    Thank you NAt

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  14. So true! I always say: first, fake confidence. Then once you start acting confident, suddenly you'll BE confident. It sounds silly but really works!

    PS: Glad to know I'm not the only one with a little pot belly ;)

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  15. What a great post! :)

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