I was about ten years old when it happened.
Recently, I have been on a self-made, health improvement plan, losing 21 pounds so far and running further each time I go. Vegetables and fruits now take up most of the space in my fridge. Regardless, on most days I still look in the mirror at my much older, belly button pierced stomach, turning side to side, examining it for signs of abdominal muscles. It now dawns on me that no matter how much weight I lose, I will still have the ten year old me inside, looking at her stomach in the mirror, unless I change the causal root of my abdominal obsession.
When I read an article by Kelly Visel entitled "Remember the Stars: 5 Odd Body Tips for Body Confidence", it was like someone was reading me back my own childhood story. The memory was tucked away, only the visage of consequences tainted my self-image, until line after line my eyes read Kelly's words and my jaw dropped further. It was validating to know I wasn't alone. Kelly offered some unique viewpoints to help tackle the beast of body insecurity, which I want to share with you. She also pointed out that the criticism of others is also a deflection technique, used to turn the eyes of others away from one's own perceived flaws, a fact that most of us subconsciously know but would do good to remember daily. Read on for Kelly's recommendations for increasing self acceptance and self love:
1. "Visit a museum."
I have personally always loved museums. When we went to art museums, I would wander through the halls, painting after painting, and marvel at the talent that was captured on the canvas. The mind of the artist expressed in bright colors, long brushstrokes, or carved marble while the long deteriorated physical remains of artists stayed in the ground in their homeland. Kelly suggests going to museums and examining how the feminine form was captured in art through the ages. Here, you won't find a skinny, breast-less form of a Victoria's Secret model. You will find beautiful, curvy women who are naked in all their large breasted, juicy booty glory. Reflect on the fact that the women that inspired the adoration of nations looked more like you than the starved models of our day.
2. "Be a superhero."
This is exactly what it sounds like. Close your eyes, and envision yourself as a superhero, on top of a building, on mountain, the beach, wherever your mind goes. Your hands on your hips, feet spread confidently apart, chest puffed with pride. Take deeps breaths and feel your own power.
Amy Cuddy tells us that when animals in nature strike this "power pose," they are expressing confidence and power. Her studies suggest that assuming this stature for a mere 2 minutes can physiologically raise your confidence and lower stress.
3. "The lotion trick."
Grab your favorite bottle of lotion (lavender and vanilla does wonders for calming the mind) and sit quietly for five minutes, massaging the lotion into your most hated body part (thick thighs, jiggly stomach, scarred arms). While rubbing in the lotion and without self-judgement or self-deprecating statements, truly look at your body, your skin, your freckles, your age spots, and appreciate your body and how hard it works for you. No matter how much you may hate it, it still loves you and carries you every day.
4. "Explore the world of fetishes."
Now this suggestion I am not particularly hot on and I probably won't explore it, but I think it is fair to give you all the possibilities. The fetish world contains adoration and arousal by focus on all kinds of body parts and body "flaws." No matter what your unhappiness is, there is a group out there that would love to tell you how beautiful and sexy it is.
And finally, my favorite and most inspirational suggestion in the words of Kelly:
5. "Look to the Stars."
"In his book Cosmos, Carl Sagan wrote, 'The Nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made of the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of stardust.'
Look to the night sky at all of the stars, nebulae, and planets twinkling down on you. They are breathtaking and immense—larger than we can physically relate to and more powerful than we can ever dream. As you gaze above at the perfection of the universe remember that all those beautiful elements are in you as well. Would you look to the heavens and declare them to be ugly or unworthy of admiration? No? Then don’t say that about yourself either."
Oh, I am sorry I have to go. The toast just popped and I am making a juicy tomato sandwich from fresh tomatoes that this awesome body grew from her own garden.