Monday, April 25, 2011
Learning to love my...
For our next installment of "me doing anything but working on what I should be doing", I am going to talk about something that has traditionally been considered an issue specifically for women, but that in reality crosses gender lines very frequently... body image and self hate.
Do you remember the first time a negative thought crossed your mind about your body? In our childhood we rarely think about how we are "supposed" to be/do/look/act. Maybe when we get in trouble for painting the entire table in 1st grade instead of just the paper to try and make the boys laugh *ahem* and our teacher gives us a lecture, it might cross our mind, but it is in one ear, out the other. Most kids are too busy living in the moment and reacting to outside stimulus to even consider the "supposed" to's. (I must say I notice this changing a lot as I see parents and media inflicting on younger and younger children their ideals and pressures, and it is really sad.)
As a child I never thought "wow, I sure wish I had thin long legs"... but then adolescence sets in and we start moving in to puberty and instead of receiving the message that we are by nature ok and beautiful, we get "your natural smell is bad, wear this perfume" "you have fat on your legs/butt/tummy etc, try this pill", "women/men are supposed to look like this, if you don't no one will ever think you are good enough"... And the insecurity, fear, and paranoia sets in. I am nearly 30 and I still have the occasional "why can't I look like THAT?" thought. I wonder how different things would be for teenage girls and boys in our society if we didn't have advertising. We begin picking apart our bodies and criticizing chunks... objectifying ourselves and hating the skin we live in. At the same time we start doing the same to other women/men as well, and this becomes an acceptable thing to us. Instead of looking at another girl and thinking "wow, what a cool girl!" we think "she has pretty eyes, but her hips are too wide" and if we can't find anything wrong it becomes "I don't like her". For me this weird insecurity, competition thing sets in and causes completely irrational fears and jealousy.
My target has always been my legs. I am 4'11", no part of my body is long. Certainly not my legs. Nothing I could ever do would change that. Really though, why should I care? My legs work! They are strong, sturdy, and have never let me down. They are attached to me, they ARE me, not just parts stuck on to who I wish I could be. I am finally beginning to reach peace with my short stocky legs. I have never had a partner express that they wish my legs were different then they are and most have actually reacted the opposite way, being lovingly admirable of my strong thighs and curvy limbs.
When do we stop hating our bodies? My coping mechanism has always been to pick my favorite aspects of my body and try to improve them. My legs are strong and muscular, so I work on making them stronger. If I am going to have short muscly legs, then I am going to have the strongest short legs I can have. And be happy. And love my body. And feel good enough.
Maybe someday I will get to the point where it isn't an issue. Where I don't think about it or consider it. Where I am fine with them they way they are and I don't feel like I need to try to make them better. That isn't where I am at though, and knowing myself and my perfectionistic tendencies I don't know if I will be there any time soon. At least I can say, at 29, that I am comfortable with my shape- and I think that is progress.