“This post is part of the 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival” sponsored by the National Organization for Women. For 14 years, NOW has been hosting this event to encourage women around the world to reclaim their bodies from the negative images they see very day in the mainstream media.
Hollywood and the fashion, cosmetics and diet industries work hard to make each of us believe that our bodies are unacceptable and need constant improvement. Print ads and television commercials reduce us to body parts — lips, legs, breasts — airbrushed and touched up to meet impossible standards. TV shows tell women and teenage girls that cosmetic surgery is good for self-esteem. Is it any wonder that 80% of U.S. women are dissatisfied with their appearance?
Women and girls spend billions of dollars every year on cosmetics, fashion, magazines and diet aids. These industries can’t use negative images to sell their products without our assistance.
Together, we can fight back.
One of the best ways to counter the barrage of unhealthy body images we are bombarded with every day is to share our own stories about how we love, honor and nurture our real, imperfect, awe-inspiring, sexy, scintillating bodies. So here is my story…
My first memory of shameful body awareness came when I was about 12 years old. My father was teasing my mother about her weight. Then he reached over and squeezed my knee and said, “I like my women pleasingly plump.”
Until that day, I had never thought much about my body type. I was a finicky eater as a child, and until I had my tonsils out in the third grade, I could barely choke down a peanut butter sandwich at lunch.
But somewhere around adolescence, genes and hormones kicked in and I started to round out. Looking back at old photos, I was not even close to being overweight. But I saw the hand-writing on the wall.
My mother is a very attractive woman, but she has a tendency toward being somewhat soft and round. It seemed she was perpetually on a diet…and perpetually cranky because of it.
Starting in my teen-age years, I joined her in trying just about every diet that came around. We would eat nothing but eggs and grapefruit for days on end, then go reward ourselves with a hot fudge sundae from Friendly’s.
Over the years, I have tried them all. Low-fat, low-carb, South Beach, Atkins, Weight Watchers…you name it, and I have been on it.
Finally, in the last couple of years, I have learned a new approach to eating that has me off the yo-yo dieting trail. I have learned to love healthy, low-glycemic foods, and to lose my cravings for refined sugar and carbs.
Here I am at my current weight. As you can see, not really overweight, but nowhere near being model-thin. But I have finally learned to love my body just the way it is.
The white belt you see in the photo is the key to my newly-found body love. I have just finished a white belt training in NIA, a movement practice that draws from disciplines of the martial arts, dance arts and healing arts.
According to the founders of NIA, “It empowers people of all shapes and sizes by connecting the body, mind, emotions and spirit.”
For the first time in many years, I feel in tune with my body. I appreciate my feet and legs for supporting me and giving me the freedom to dance. I appreciate my spine for letting me curve and be fluid in my movements. I appreciate my arms and neck and hands for allowing me to express myself with grace, strength and flexibility.
For me, the joy of movement is the key to loving my body. I wish every young woman in the world would find this joy and hold onto it as a shield against all the negative body-talk they will encounter in their passage to womanhood. And I applaud NOW for being proactive in providing a space for women to share their feelings and their stories in a positive, supportive environment.