The Winding Path

Counselling Services provided by Barb Zacharias

February 2021: Body Love

Posted on Feb 16, 2021

February 2021: Body Love

We have just passed the “marker” of February: Valentine’s Day (appropriately, to me, coupled in some regions with a version of Family Day). In true “Universe” style, not so subtle hints were sent my way via reading material, client comments, social media feeds, and colleague-friends by what they were posting. The loud-and-clear message: time to focus on self-love. Let me clarify that self-love is different from selfishness. A person can participate in self-love and be obnoxious about it. It can also be what undergirds quiet confidence. Selfishness is total disregard for others. Few of us who struggle with self-love, and its companion self-care, can claim total disregard for others. More often than not, we are over-focused on others and under appreciate our Selves.

Hence why I like to replace tainted buzz words like self-love and self-esteem with self-regard or self-appreciation. This I can understand in that I am prone to give little regard to my Self (or my body) and/or not appreciate my Self (and my body). I wish my conditioning wasn’t so difficult to break in this area. Sadly, it is challenging for all of us, particularly women, who have been bombarded with messages of “not good enough” our entire lives. It is very insidious and pervasive. Like a disease run rampant and unchecked.

I noticed a significant difference when I began filtering out social media advertisements for weight loss. A person thinks they can ignore subtle messages by scrolling past; but somehow it makes its way into the psyche, burrowing into nooks and crannies, lying undetected until a heaviness settles sets in that one can’t seem to define. Like a dense fog that doesn’t lift. Where’s the sunshine to burn away the laden clouds?

How this ties in with Valentine’s Day was the reminder that this occasion was an opportunity to practice loving oneself (not just those we care about). I have come a long way in caring for my psyche, my mental health, and overall sense of well being. Where I struggle is in loving my body. My body which has never done a thing in its existence to harm me. Rather the opposite. My body takes very good care of me. To quote Susan Moses in The Art of Dressing Curves:

“Through it all, your body has been there for you. It has never stopped breathing. It has picked you up when you have fallen. It healed when you were hurt or ill. It accepted your strengths and weaknesses and carried you no matter the numbers on the scale. It’s time to respect your body for all the incredible things it does for you every day without hesitation. It’s time to be able to walk by a mirror and look at your body with pride and speak to it with love and kindness…Your body deserves to be loved in the way it has loved you unquestionably all of your life…Too often the ways of the world make it difficult to appreciate your unique attributes, especially your curves. But in reality, the world has nothing to do with it. It’s time to stand tall, look in the mirror, and acknowledge your beauty, value, and humanity with pride.”

Susan Moses, “The Art of Dressing Curves,” 2016, p. 26.

That was from the chapter entitled Body Talk. And I have recommitted myself to what I am coining, Body Love. I love my body (no, that was not easy to type, still a work in progress). It does all sorts of things for me, most notably, keep me alive. My body is more committed to well-being than I am. I tend to focus on the “practical” side of well-being (taking medications and supplements, pacing my energy, monitoring mood and thought patterns); but I am new to the practice of Body Love. So far, I must say, the positive results have been surprising.

My body size and shape remain what they are. No miracle cure for muffin top, love handles, back fat, stomach overhang, bodacious booty, or bustling bust. I am still concerned about those things from both a vanity angle and physical well being (where do these “extra” body bits come from?). But I am attempting to do so from the mindfulness approach of nonjudgemental acceptance.

Those are extra bits of body I never had before (except for the bodacious booty; that’s always haunted my backside). However they came to be (hush health fanatics and judgmental thoughts, diet and exercise and self-discipline are not the culprits), I must accept their existence. I can’t wish them away. Nor can I obsessively/compulsively starve myself or exercise myself to death. I have tried both those things. Probably why I have the extra bits I do. My body lovingly thought I needed “extra” to get me through famine, pestilence, and a plague of angry beasts chasing me down.

The point is: my body serves me well. I, on the other hand, do not serve it well. Other than I try to eat with wellness in mind and move it around on a regular basis—usually with dogs in fresh air (or the physicality required to renovate an old fixer-upper house). I throw a lot of shade at my body (hopefully using that colloquialism correctly) which it doesn’t deserve. By practicing Body Love, I am becoming comfortable in my own skin (and dare I say it, generous covering of fatty tissue) which creates new neuronal pathways in my brain leading to increased mental health. My overall sense of wellness improves with Body Love.

What does body love look like? It’s as simple as sending kind and loving thoughts (words of appreciation) to your body parts as you wash them in the shower/bath or apply lotion. Dress with nonjudgmental acceptance. Look in the mirror and appreciate the female form which comes in all shapes and sizes. Consider how you want to present your whole Self to the world—not just in clothing and accessory options, but also by attitude. Set yourself up for success instead of the usual self-sabotage.

I have noticed an improvement by turning around my pandemic-induced laissez-faire mindset toward Body-Love and Self-Regard. I have to look at myself and live with myself. I can do so in comfort without sacrificing my sense of self, style, and well-being. I deserve to look at someone who takes care of her Self: body, mind, and soul.

1 Comment

  1. I love how you word it: self-regard or self-appreciation, I too struggle with this and over the years have tried starving myself and exercising. I agree with you whole heartedly that we need to take care of self: body, mind and soul. Until I do all three, I will not be satisfied with how I look or feel. It is part of the whole package. Thank you for the friendly reminder to have a healthy self-regard for myself.

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