A friend of mind has been struggling recently with her body image. She says she feels a lot of shame when she looks in the mirror, and the stories in her mind keep on trying to convince her there is something wrong with her at her present weight. She is caught in the land of fear, where her mind keeps telling her stories that she is not skinny enough, pretty enough or sexy enough. In other words, she is not enough, period!
Our western society basically deems women’s bodies unacceptable unless they are a size 2 or less. Just take a look at the ad of the emaciated bikini-clad model in New York’s Times Square that reads “Are you beach body ready?” Google those words and you will see the ad. The message implies that you need to be very, very skinny to be beautiful. This ad was actually banned in England. The Advertising Standards Authority in Britain said it had received 216 complaints with the general nature being that the ad is “offensive, irresponsible and harmful because it promotes an unhealthy body image.”
Why does our society put so much emphasis on having a thin body? Because we have all been brainwashed from a very young age to believe that being thin brings approval and happiness. In other words, you are only lovable if you look a certain way. This is the story that was conditioned inside of you, and at its core is the deep, deep fear of being rejected and thus all alone.
In my world, there is no body more beautiful than any other body. You are beautiful and I am beautiful. My thighs flap in the wind (and so do my arms). And my breasts that so lovingly fed my children are going south at a very fast rate! But I celebrate this amazing gift of a body every day, exactly as it is. Each one of us is a unique expression. There is no one type of woman. We come in all shapes and sizes. This is evident in Body and Soul, The Century Project, an amazing collection of 100 nude photos of women and girls of all ages, shapes, sizes, and life experiences. Most of the images are accompanied by moving statements about bodies written by the women themselves.
If you are struggling with your body image, instead of saying, “I should be losing weight” or “I will never be beautiful because ..…,” I invite you to be willing to be kind to your body. It is an exquisite gift from Life and it does so much for you. Notice it. Hug it. Thank it for endlessly helping you to digest your food, breathe, beat your heart, and move around in life. Can you feel the shift that happens when you are seeing your body through the eyes of your heart rather than the eyes of shame?
Then, if you are willing, ask your body “What is it that you are trying to protect?” For anytime you overeat, you are trying to numb something deep and vulnerable inside of you. Then ask yourself “What am I truly hungry for?” Don’t look for an answer. Be the question.
Your struggling mind that thinks you need to have a certain body image to be okay needs your heart right now. And, as you bring more and more heart to your struggling self, you will learn to celebrate the gloriousness of your own body and you will begin to discover the pathway from your judgmental mind to your healing heart. Slowly and surely, you will realize that you are enough exactly as you are. You are actually more than enough. You are a unique expression. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You are beautiful exactly as you are!