Welcome back! If you've been following my posts for the past few weeks you know that I have been covering the 5 competencies of being Body Positive (BP). Finding and embracing these practices has truly been a life-changer for me and I know they can be for you too. Here is a recap with links to the corresponding blog posts:
Practice Intuitive Self-Care
Declare Your Own Authentic Beauty
Today I'm talking about my favorite topic, Declaring Your Own Authentic Beauty. I know, I know, you're dying to know why this one of my favorite! Ok, I'll share. Through this declaration, I have learned how to experience beauty as a creative, dynamic process. How to inhabit my unique body with joy and confidence. I have expanded my imagination to behold authentic beauty in myself and others.
“It seems so obvious that if we really appreciated what a gift it is to be alive in our bodies and how amazingly complex and intricate these bodies are, we wouldn’t be able to hate ourselves so well. We would recognize our own beauty not in an arrogant way, but simply as part of the beauty in this amazing world. Just imagine if all the talent in advertising that went into convincing us that we aren’t good enough could be freed for true creative work.”
J. Ruth Gendler, Notes on the Need for Beauty Beauty.
This is about seeing and expressing yourself just as you are—internal and external qualities combined. (I've been working with many clients lately on getting their validation internally instead of from external sources. If this is a problem for you find a counselor for some help in this area. Relying on others for your self-worth counter-productive in all areas of self-growth and improvement.) This is about looking in the mirror and loving who and what you see. I hear you grumbling and saying how can I love this body? I have fat, wrinkles, grey hair, crooked teeth. The list could go on and on. When you can love all of what you perceive as flaws, the journeys that brought them to you, you will begin to treat yourself with kindness and respect. This leads to you treating yourself better, being kinder to yourself, and making better choices about how you are going to take care of this body that you have a newfound love for. It's about no longer blaming yourself for mistakes you have made in the past and moving forward with a brand new perspective!
If you are blind to our authentic beauty you will be more susceptible to harmful messages that society churns out promoting insecurity and doubt. And, as we know, the behaviors that go along with attempts to fundamentally change our bodies can lead us to worse health over time. Seeing your beauty is not an exercise in vanity—it is a necessary component of good physical and emotional health.
I teach the Body Positive program in a local school to girls in 3-6th grades. When we talk about this they worry they will be viewed as conceited. Here's how I explain it to them: conceit is competitive, and generally arises out of people’s need to mask their insecurities; confident people, however, know their intrinsic value. Confidence is something that can be seen and felt. It doesn't have to be announced or act out. I have clients who tell me they started out the day feeling great about themselves and confident and it fades away during the day. One of the biggest traps that may erode your confidence is comparing yourself to others. When we can honor that diversity exists on every level, we observe difference for what it actually is—just different. Embrace this ideal and you will no longer feel the need to compare or judge. You will be comfortable being your real self without fear because you know that each of us is no better or worse than any other person on the planet. No beauty hierarchy exists, only difference, and we learn to see genuine beauty in ourselves and in all people.
When that self-criticism rears its ugly head again, and it will, ask yourself where it is coming from. Are you tired, angry, disappointed at something in your life? Be compassionate towards yourself and recognize that none of those things have anything to do with who you are as a person worthy of love and respect from yourself and those around you. Take a moment and practice the Self-Care (link) and Self-Love (link) we talked about in past blogs. Tell yourself how special you are (even if it takes a bit to believe it again). Connect with a Body Positive Community. I'll be talking more about this last competency in the next blog post. Until then, you are beautiful, you are special and you are loved.
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.
They must be felt with the heart." Helen Keller
Here's to you!