Tag Archives: self acceptance

The Myth of The Girl in The Body from Your Past

I want to ask you to question the validity of the stories and myths you tell yourself about your past.

When we’re going through a tough time, we have a tendency to look at our past and see just the pretty parts. We also tend to alter or mythicize the truth in order to make sense of where we are now.

It’s a common theme in our lives.

This happens when we are in a job that isn’t a good fit for us. A previous job that was stressful and draining and all consuming starts to be remembered in a much fonder way.

We’ll find ourselves doing this when we’re single and missing some of the benefits that come with a romantic relationship. We suddenly remember an old boyfriend as being more handsome, more interesting and kind than he was in reality. (He was a dirtbag and you still don’t need him, I promise.)

It’s not hard to find more examples of this in every area of our life. When we’re bored or stressed about the responsibilities of raising families, keeping a home and paying ever mounting bills, we think about how carefree we were in our early 20’s. We conveniently forget that we didn’t have health insurance, our car starting was a daily gamble, and our diet consisted of ramen noodles and frozen burritos (that might be a year old) because we often didn’t have any money for food after paying our bills. It was stressful and awful in a different way but we forget that.

We remember eating better (we ate terribly). We slept better (we hardly slept). We had more energy (we napped all the time). We were more fun (we were just as anxious as we are now). We were more outgoing (No, there were just more opportunities to socialize). More interesting (we just liked to hear ourselves talk about everything we were learning).

The list goes on and on.

The way we remember things and the way we view ourselves isn’t always accurate. We glamorize and mythicize to suit a “need”. The thought is that if we can make ourselves feel that the past was better, maybe we’ll be motivated to make changes or take action to change now.

The most common example I see is in glorifying the myth of the girl in the body from our past. Most commonly the smaller body from our past.

You may believe this myth yourself when thinking of your younger days. Or you may have even seen it shared publicly from someone else, as we tend to do things since the advent of social media! Usually it comes in a “I miss this girl” kind of post on social media. Sometimes it comes in the form of a before / current photo and talk of starting their journey back to their pre-x, y or z weight. (complete with a photo of them drinking an expensive powdered shake in a plastic container of course).

You know exactly what I’m talking about.

Someone posts a photo of themselves in their younger thinner years, usually in a bikini, short shorts, or other various states of light clothing wearing.

It’s always the same.

They’re young. They’re pretty. And they are in a smaller, seemingly imperfection-free body.

They express a desire to get back “there”. (We do this in our heads too – social media isn’t necessary for this kind of myth perpetuation)

The woman they are today (and that most of us are today) has probably been through a lot and on the way, her body has changed. She’s gained some weight, maybe she has stretch marks and cellulite. Maybe she has wrinkles or gray hairs. She may have dealt with some health issues. Her physical body is overflowing with the marks of time and life.

When I see these photos like this or hear statements of “I miss this girl” and “I was so much better then” it makes me so very sad.

First, because in hindsight, we see the younger, thinner version of ourselves as being free from worry, free from problems, and having the body that we would desire to have now. It must have been so fun to have that body then, right? We must have appreciated it and loved it and treated it with respect and great care.

HAHA!

The sad thing is that we didn’t appreciate it. We didn’t love it. We didn’t respect it.

Those of us who are reeling from our current bodies are partly in the place we are in because we treated our younger bodies abysmally.

Raise your hand if you started dieting as a pre-teen and your entire teenage years were consumed with thoughts of needing to stay small or lose a few pounds so you’d be as small or smaller than your friends.

Raise your hand if your norm in those smaller bodied days was to go as many hours as your could between meals and to eat as little as possible at each meal, filling up on rice cakes, fat free cottage cheese and cucumber slices or anything else that your teen magazines told you were low-cal.

Raise your hand if you remember the hours you spent in tears because the boy you liked didn’t like you back and you attributed it to your thighs (and how large you thought they were).

Raise your hand if you started smoking to reduce your appetite, started drinking coffee to lose weight (you didn’t need to lose in the first place) and bought jeans a size smaller than you wear so that you would be too uncomfortable to eat.

Raise your hand if most of your actual memories of those years are not of all the fun ways you lived in and enjoyed your body but instead are flashes and pieces of hunger, thoughts about food or feeling badly about your body for various reasons.

We don’t usually land in our today bodies accidentally.

When we spend time fantasizing about the girl in the body from our past, we are indulging in a myth. When we say “I miss that girl” in our thinner and younger photos, what we are really saying is:

I miss feeling in control of my life and my body.

I feel invisible and too visible at the same time.

I want to feel beautiful, powerful and carefree.

I want to feel confident and happy.

That girl you were wasn’t necessarily any of those things just because the you of today thinks her old body was better. If we’re unhappy now, we tend to look at our past selves with rose colored lenses.

Please, don’t make the mistake of glamorizing the past in favor of crapping on your now.

The body you had when you were 16 or 20 was probably treated often with the same disgust and disdain that at times, you have treated your body of today with. That body didn’t bring you joy and you didn’t feel half as confident as the you of today thinks you were.

The problems you see with your body today were likely the same things that bothered you then (even if there is or isn’t a discernible size difference between the two). And these things will always be a problem as long as you believe they are a problem, no matter what diet or workout routine you take on.

The best thing you can do for the you of yesterday and the you of today is to not wish to be someone from another place in time. Instead start practicing love, respect and appreciation (or at least just acceptance) of the body you have right now.

Don’t sugar coat or gloss over your past. Don’t pretend things were perfect. All that does is set you up for failure. If things weren’t perfect then and you weren’t happy and confident then (before bills, before kids, before work, before LIFE), then how in the world do you have a chance of achieving happiness, confidence and perfection now??? The answer is you don’t. So don’t hold yourself to an impossible and imaginary standard.

If you want to radiate the confidence and beauty you think your younger self is the epitome of in old photos, you don’t get there by making yourself feel bad for where you are today.

You get there by practicing kindness to yourself, always, by caring for your body physically in ways that make you feel good (move your body joyfully, feed both it’s needs and wants) and by removing the pressure on yourself to look a specific way.

You live your life in the present moment.

If the girl you were in your high school days could speak to you today, do you know what she would say?

She’d tell you that she’s always loved you, she just didn’t know how to show you that. She wishes she had spent less time focused on staying thin and being pretty and more time enjoying the freedom those younger years usually bring.

She wishes she had eaten to fullness, laughed with her friends, gone out for ice cream regularly and never started to smoke in the first place.

She wishes that you appreciated all that your body still has to offer you now, exactly as it is and before it’s too late.

She hopes you will stop wishing and missing the girl you were and start paying attention to the woman you are and can still be.

She hopes you raise your own daughters to love, respect, appreciate and accept their bodies for enabling them to breathe, love, create, dance, run, climb, laugh and live. She doesn’t want you to miss the girl right in front of you, right now.

Go out and love and appreciate her.

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3 Things to Stop Doing Right Now if You Want Body Acceptance

3 Things You Have to Stop doing if you want Body Acceptance (body checking in the mirror is one of them).

If you’re like most women, you want to feel good in your body more than anything else.

In fact, your desire to feel comfortable in your skin is so strong that you have spent hours upon hours (in all honesty, years!) trying to get your body to cooperate. Countless hours at the gym, endless meal planning and too many grumbles of hunger in your belly to count. The amount of effort you’ve put in to get your dream body should have been enough to get you what you wanted, but it’s not.

Even if you’ve met and hit your body “goals”, you still seem to find it all too easy to find something else that is wrong with your body. Nothing is good enough. You are not alone in this.

Ultimately we all want body acceptance. We want to wake up in the morning and not have a total meltdown over what we see in the mirror. We don’t want one decadent meal to turn into a shame spiral where we overeat and beat yourself up over it for weeks at a time. But that’s what happens when we spend hours working towards a goal and still not loving what we see in the mirror.

We feel deprived, exhausted and defeated. And then the cycle starts again.

The only way to get out of this crap is to stop working towards an impossible to reach body state. The way to body acceptance (and self acceptance) isn’t through manipulating your body to impossible standards. Body acceptance comes through working on your thoughts and feelings about your body. 

There are few things you have to stop doing if you want to have a chance at getting there, and as long as we go about our day doing these things, we are actively increasing the dissatisfaction we feel about our bodies.

If you really do want body acceptance STOP doing these 3 things:

Comparing yourself to other people

Every body is different. We have different genes, body compositions, health conditions, hormone levels and personal history that contribute to what our body looks like. Even something like the position and length of our bones contributes to our bodies visual features (hence why it’s impossible for many people to ever achieve a thigh gap) or have long legs. Spending even a minute of your day comparing how your body measures up to the bodies of other women will not help you either a) get closer to looking like them or b) make you feel like your body is worthy.

If you want to accept your body, you can’t compare it to anything other than where it is today.

 

Checking out how you look in mirrors and windows at every chance you get.

If you’re looking at yourself in mirrors, windows and other reflections only to see what’s wrong, stop doing it. You will always see something you don’t like if you are looking for it. If you look in the mirror and like what you see, by all means, keep at it (I’m no stranger to the mirror myself!) – but if it’s making you feel shitty . . .then stop doing it. It’s certainly not going to ever help you like what you see. If you have to, cover the mirrors in your house for a period of time.

No amount of shaming or telling yourself something is ugly or needs to be fixed is going to bring you to happiness and acceptance.

If you can’t resist look in the mirror or window, challenge yourself to find something you like or love instead of doing the same old tear down. This is hard at first, but will get easier with practice (just like anything else).

 

Following people on social media who want to sell you a “better” body

If you follow people on social media who are selling weight loss “teas”, waist trainers, plastic wrap you slap on your abdomen or vitamin patches to make you thin . . .unfollow, unlike, click them goodbye as fast as you can. Gross. None of it works and these people know that but they’re making money off of it. They’re getting paid to promote this junk. Don’t be fooled by the way they look. It’s not the product they’re selling that got them that body – They look the way they do due to genetics, intense exercise, plastic surgery, implants, fillers and by taking dozens of photos while contouring their body into strange angles. Oh and let’s not forget the use of PHOTOSHOP and FILTERS. IT’s not real life. And even they don’t actually look the way they do in those photos in person. By following people like this you’re just going to have feelings of not being enough, not looking good enough and wanting what they have (instead of appreciating and accepting what you’ve already got!). For your sanity and happiness, stop following these folks and add people instead who don’t make you feel like something is wrong with you.

There is a huge world of great people out there who are sharing cool things, beautiful words and images of variable bodies, diverse ages, backgrounds, ethnicities etc. When you SEE more images of people who don’t fit in to the cultural standards of beauty (think white, young, thin) a really neat thing happens where you not only start to see beauty in places you hadn’t noticed it before (You had the power all along Dorothy!) but you also start to feel more comfortable and appreciative in your own skin.  And when that happens, lady –  you will be unstoppable!

One great way to find people to follow is to find one body positive person on social media who you respect and like (someone who shares images and articles that make you feel good!) and then check out who they follow – you’ll be bound to find some gems in there! I personally like folks like Jessamyn Stanley , Christy Harrison, Kelsey Miller, Alysse Dalessandro, Melissa Toler, and Summer Innanen for starters (I’m linking to facebook or twitter because that’s where I still spend a lot of my SM time – but you can find most of these folks and more on Instagram too.). Fill your feeds with good quality folks and watch how you feel changes!


Even if right now, accepting your body seems totally impossible, please know that you can get there! I know body acceptance is possible because it’s something you were born with. We are all born accepting our bodies the way the are. We don’t question if we measure up – we don’t have any concept of not feeling enough. That junk is taught to us. Just like you can relearn how to eat according to your hunger and fullness signals, you can also relearn how to accept your incredible body but to make that possible you’re going to have to take an active role in changing how you decide to interact with the world and with yourself.

When you’re ready to start working on this stuff in more depth, let’s talk. I’d love to be of support to you as you move away from diets and shame and instead towards listening to your true hungers and desires.

How to Trade Negative Self-Talk for Self-Compassion

Compassion is the secret ingredient you need to stop overeating.

Compassion is the secret ingredient you need to stop overeating.

When I was really immersed in my weight struggles, my weight going up and down over and over again, the same thoughts kept echoing repeatedly in the back of my mind:

Ug, you’re such a mess. Why do you keep doing this?
What the hell is wrong with you?
Stop eating!
You’re so gross! So fat! So stupid!
I look disgusting!

I really didn’t think anything about these thoughts at the time. I thought this was a “normal” way to talk to oneself and since the thoughts were automatic, I accepted them as being correct. As being the truth. I was rotten to myself. I was judgy and cruel but I thought that was par for the course and I had no choice in the matter.

But something I have learned along the way is that we have a choice in what thoughts become a part of our regular repertoire. We have a choice in how much energy and attention we give to each thought, even if we can’t control when and how they pop up. We can decide if we’re just going to let them pop up and pass through or if we’re going to grab onto it and make it mean something about us. I had grabbed on to these thoughts so frequently that they had become ingrained. I didn’t know that I had a choice in whether to indulge them or not – I indulged them because I believed them to be true.

Letting so many negative thoughts about myself fester eventually led to having zero compassion for myself. Or maybe it was the otherway around? I had no compassion for myself because of the actions I was taking so negative thoughts had an easy time settling in. Either way, I saw everything I did around food or my weight as my “fault”, evidence of being “fucked up” and the reason why I didn’t have the things I wanted in life. I started to believe that I was gross, that I was fat, that I was stupid and all these things meant I deserved the unhappiness that I found myself in.

Believing all that kept me in the exact place I wanted to get out of. If I believed that I was gross, believed that I was stupid and that there was so much wrong with me, I would continue to do what I had been doing to begin with. There was no incentive, motivation or reason to stop doing it – because these were clearly major character flaws that were “who I was”. I didn’t see any sense in changing because I was only going to end up in the exact same place again. So the cycle continued. . .diet, binge, diet, binge etc.

To get out of this “mess”, we really have to stop looking so harshly at our external circumstances (weight, food) and move our focus to the internal ones (thoughts, feelings, patterns). Obviously the food we put in our mouths has a major effect on our weight, our mood, our energy and what we eat can even cause us to eat more than we need but, it’s the stuff that goes on inside that gets us into the sticky place with the external stuff. I thought that I was a “gross fatty” because I had a voracious appetite but really my struggles were related to me not having any compassion for myself. I had no sympathy for my situation – I got myself there because I couldn’t keep my hand out of my mouth, right? It’s hard to care about someone’s well being when you don’t have any sympathy for them – when we think they “deserve” their plight.

One of the things you will hear me say over and over if we work together is that we have to cultivate self-love (and acceptance). You cannot keep weight off permanently and you cannot avoid bingeing if you do not love yourself. I know that sounds cheesy as hell. But it’s essential. If I don’t value myself, if I don’t love me with any and all real or perceived flaws, as I am today, then why would I take good care of myself? Why would I choose to treat my body with love with nutritious food? Why would I only eat as much as I need and no more? If I don’t care about me, if I don’t think I’m worthy or deserving of anything I want, then I may as well “treat” myself with too much food that is terrible for me – because it’s the only thing I seem to be able to give myself. Also, I deserve the suffering that comes after eating it because I’m a lazy pig. (Sound familiar??)

It feels way easier to “give” yourself a binge for comfort after a rough day than it is to give yourself compassion and love unconditionally. But really, giving yourself more compassion actually is easier – but it does take some time and effort. It’s not as instantaneous as that binge, but the results are certainly better. When you feel love and have compassion for yourself, when you aren’t judging yourself so harshly day after day, you’ll really find that food feels less like a battle.

Is compassion 100% going to fix your struggles? No, of course not, you also need to feel those feelings, be mindful while eating and all the other stuff we’ve talked about here. But all of those things will have more purpose and feel more linear if you are building them on a foundation of love and understanding of yourself!

How can we have more compassion for ourselves if we’re stuck in a cycle of negative self-talk / negative self-thoughts?


 

Here are some beginner steps to generating more compassion for yourself:

1. Notice what thoughts pop up for you regularly. No judgement – just, what sort of things do you find yourself thinking about your body? about who you are? about your abilities and worthiness?

2. Notice what you tend to do with those thoughts when you have them. Do you give them your full attention? Do you let them pass by without much attention? (probably not!) Do you repeat thinking them over and over again as punishment?

3. Don’t look for evidence. If you collect the negative thoughts and find yourself focusing on them, indulging them, analyzing them or looking for additional evidence that they are “true”, try thinking (or saying) this instead: “I’m not going to give my attention to that thought right now”. You can acknowledge the thought but you don’t have to let it build by giving it additional attention beyond that. Think of it like this: you can’t control someone you don’t like from attending the same party as you, but you can be in charge in how much you interact with them. You even have the right to leave the party!

4. Try a neutral thought in place of the negative thought. You’re not going to be able to jump from “I’m disgusting.” to “I am the most amazing person in the world” in a day and actually believe it. So why not start with something you already believe? When you have a negative thought about your body or about yourself, swap it out with something totally innocuous. A thought of “I’m stupid” could simply turn into “I have a brain”. You may not be able to say “I’m smart” yet but I’m pretty sure that there a 3lb object in your head and you can’t deny that. “My body is so fat.” could be “I have a body.” While these statements sound kind of silly, they are at least without a doubt true so you can’t doubt them. Think of this as a stepping stone from negativity to compassion and love.

5. Evaluate your compassion for others. One of the things I’ve noted about myself (and have had clients repeat to me) is that when I’m really struggling with self-compassion because of my actions with food, I also tend to be less compassionate towards others. It’s probably risky to admit this publicly, but when I’m deep in my own “shit” I am really judgemental. I have seen someone who is really overweight and had negative thoughts about them – or made assumptions about their habits, their life. I’ve seen other women and compared myself to them – wondering if I’m prettier than her? And then patting myself on the back when I find something in her appearance that I feel confident is less appealing than something about me. It feels terrible to admit that I’ve had those thoughts. But this tearing down and lack of compassion for other people goes away when I’m feeling loving towards me (and I know that is who I really am at my core). If you don’t have compassion for yourself, it’s going to appear in how you see other people too. And it’s really not about them – your judgement is really about how you feel about YOU!

Are you hyper critical of the appearance of others? Do you take pride in seeing faults or weaknesses in other people? Do you look for the worst in others?

6. Put yourself in their shoes and try being more compassionate to the very people you feel judgement towards. If you relate to the judgemental stuff I talk about in #5, then the next step for you is to put yourself in the shoes of those who you are having difficulty feeling compassion towards or people who you feel really judgemental towards. Do the opposite of judging them. Be curious and think about how you can empathize with them. And show them your compassion when you can.

What if you looked at these people with love?

The really heavy woman in the grocery store. What might her day be like? What sort of suffering might she deal with on a daily basis because of her weight? How would you feel if you were her?

The family member who keeps screwing up their life and coming to you for help. What might it feel like to be them? To know that every time they reach out that they are probably being judged for their life choices? What painful thing has happened in their life that has contributed to them making the choices they keep making?

The pretty girl at the coffee shop who has a scowl on her face. Maybe she’s not a stuck up bitch like you’re thinking – maybe something terrible has happened to her today. Or maybe she just has resting bitch face. Or maybe she might be shy and scowls so that she invites less unwanted attention. If you were her for a minute, what would she want you to know about her? How has her life not been perfect? How has she struggled? What is painful for her?

Anyone you feel “judgy” towards. The guy who cut you off in traffic. The homeless person on the subway. The waitress who didn’t ask you how your meal was. Your boss. Anyone. Why might they be the way they are? What good things can you see in them? In what way might your judgement about them be completely wrong and off base? If you were them, what would you want other’s to know about you? What sort of pain and suffering might they be dealing with? What is their presence or situation triggering in you?

7. Catch yourself. Be an observer of your thoughts so that you can practice all of this. What I mean by that, is now that you are aware of what thoughts you are having, what you do with them, how you collect evidence, how our lack of compassion for others is really a lack of compassion for ourselves, how to turn a negative thought into a neutral one and how to generate compassion for yourself by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, your job is to continue being aware when your negative self talk pops up, not indulge the negative thoughts, make them neutral if necessary and check yourself when you start judging someone else. As with everything I write about – it’s all about putting things into practice.


 

One of the ways we can have more compassion for ourselves is by having more compassion for others. When we can put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and see why they might be the way they are, how they got in whatever situation they might be in, we realize that it’s not all rainbows and unicorns just because it might look that way on the outside. When you do this regularly, it will change you. You will genuinely start to judge other people less and you will have more love and compassion for them because you can understand that their life might be different than you think. We never know what someone else has gone through – the prettiest girl in the world has had bad shit happen to her too – we all deserve some understanding and compassion. Practice putting yourself in the shoes of people who feel judgy towards and it will be easier for you to have compassion for yourself.

One final tip: If I’m having a hard time finding a soft spot for someone (myself included), I try to think of what I would feel if they were a child. It’s really hard to feel judgy towards someone who is only beginning their life and isn’t yet responsible for all their life choices. View people as the child they were – can you feel more gentle towards them?

Compassion for you, compassion for them – it’s all connected. Whether you see it or not. The urge to pick apart, the compulsion to criticise and compare – it all comes from a place of “lack” inside us. If you don’t feel that you are lacking or undeserving or unworthy, you won’t need to tear others down. And since it’s far easier to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes (a benefit to stepping outside of ourselves) – that’s where we start to generate compassion for ourselves.

Feel love more often for everyone in your life and you will be able to feel it more for yourself. Do that and food will be less charged for you.

If you looked at yourself with compassion (like we do to others in step #6), what would you want judgy you to know about you?


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I see you hiding in photos.

unsplash hideI see you.

I see you there, in a group picture, behind the woman with the long blond hair and the one with the oversized glasses.

I see you smiling. You look like you’re having a good time.

I see you’ve placed yourself behind the other women in the photo so that all that I can see of you is your face, your body hidden by the other bodies in front of you.

At first, I thought your placement in the picture was because it was crowded and you’re a little taller than your friends. Perhaps you went to the back so that your graceful height didn’t block someone else from view.

But then I saw you again. In another picture.

This time, behind your children when they were toddlers. You pulled them to you in a loving embrace, in front of your body, so much so that you looked like a smiling floating head in between their little faces.

Your body once housed them and protected them as they grew, now you use them to protect you.

You are still smiling.

I thought it was a sweet photo and familiar. I had certainly seen many many photos of other mom’s proudly displaying their beautiful children in front of them. This is not an abnormal thing for mothers to do.

But then I saw a new photo.

This time, behind a group of your high school friends, at a reunion I think, where this time you were not the tallest one, yet there you were politely moving to the back in order to make sure more of the others were seen.

And again in a group photo with your girlfriends at a party. Everyone is having a good time and there you are, again, all I can see is a smiling head.

Then again at the beach. This time, you are not hidden by people but by towels. Completely wrapped up in a towel at the beach on a 90 degree day, and behind a chair.

Your face is all we can see of you physically in these photos. And you do look happy, which is great. But I can’t help feeling sad that you seem to be trying to hide yourself.

Not Fit to Be Seen (Unless Photoshop is available!)
I see women who are underweight, average weight and overweight do this and they’re all doing it for the same reason – they don’t want their body to be seen.  They’re not the size they want to be. They’re not the shape they want to be. They’re heavier than they were in the past. They haven’t lost the baby weight. They don’t feel like they are fit to be seen. They don’t want to see themselves and they don’t want others to see them either.

One thing that isn’t helping is this photoshop, “waist trainer” and plastic surgery obsessed society that we live in. If you own a smart phone, odds are you spend at least a portion of your day looking at carefully curated celebrity profiles or your friend’s profiles. It’s hard to look at that stuff day in and day out and not feel a little ashamed about how we look. But most of what people post on social media is FAKE. These people don’t look like this in real life. Their photos are so doctored up with filters and makeup “apps” that we wouldn’t recognize them in person. We’re feeling bad about ourselves while we compare ourselves to something that isn’t even attainable in real life! It’s completely crazy!

If we physically hide ourselves in photos because we believe we aren’t fit to be seen, what else might we be hiding from?

Where else are we hiding in our lives?

Where else are we only playing part way?

Where else are you putting limits on yourself?

Where else might you be holding yourself back?

Make no mistake, the self-consciousness we have about our bodies drips over into other parts of our lives and affects a lot of things. I want more for you. I want more for all of us.

Messages Sent and Memories Made
If you run to hide every time a camera appears, I worry that your daughter is getting the message that if her body isn’t the “right” size or shape, that it shouldn’t be seen. And since you share genetics, she is likely to end up with a shape similar to yours someday and will remember that it’s not one to be comfortable with.

I worry that your son is getting the message that shape and size are more important than who someone is. Or that women with imperfect bodies should move to the back.

I worry that your kids will look at photos of their childhood and wish that they could see you better because they love all of you, not just the part that looks pretty or neat or small.

I worry that there will be a lingering sadness when you or they look back at your family photos because instead of remembering being in the moment, you’ll remember that your mind was more on your bodily position in the snapshot.

When we look back at old family photos of relatives or friends who are no longer with us, what do we see? What do we remember about them?

In my experience, you remember the twinkle in their eye, the way they laughed with their entire body, the way they made you feel like the most important person in the world each time you saw them.

You remember their delicious cooking and their love of ghost stories.

You remember how when they played video games with you for a moment you saw what they may have been like as a child and it made you feel closer to them. It made you understand them more.

You see how you actually look a little like them and how your daughter is like a carbon copy of them. You suddenly see that your brother has their nose and your cousin got their smile. You all have a little bit of their spirit.

You see that they loved to wear bright colors and prints and how their jewelry glistened so much it looked like it had been stolen straight from the Crown Jewels.

You see that they loved life and were living it without self-consciousness.

You see who they were through the photo.

You know what we don’t see, what we don’t remember?

Their size. Their weight. When they last colored their roots. What state their body was at different parts of their lives.

We don’t care if Grandma was 100 lbs overweight and had thinning gray hair – she was amazing.  She survived horrific things we only read about and still managed to laugh daily.

We don’t care that Aunt Mary was built like a brick shit house (that was one of my mother’s favorite sayings actually!). She was a powerhouse of love and force to be reckoned with. And also incredible meatballs. She fucking loved to make meatballs.

Despite the craptastic amount of energy the Instawhores spend on creating unrealistic photos, I know on some level most of us do recognize that the physical appearance of our bodies not very important – but sometimes it seems we don’t really get that until someone isn’t here anymore. That sucks.

You know who doesn’t care what your body looks like? Little kids. Little kids will think you are the most beautiful person in the world if you are kind to them and care for them and play with them. I don’t have kids but I have nieces and nephews and I have been a blonde, brunette, and a redhead, I have been skinny, fat and somewhere in between. I have had crazy rosacea eruptions on my face and acne and they’ve seen me without makeup (and coffee). And they think I am beautiful. They see who I am inside – they see me for me, not for what I look like. But give kids a reason to pay attention to the size or shape of our bodies, by hiding them (or commenting on how much we dislike something) and they will learn really quickly how to judge a body and the person inside it. That also sucks.

Can you look at yourself the way your kids would look at you, before they learned that they should be judging everyone by their bodies?

Can you look at yourself the way you look at your own children, seeing all their amazing potential and beautiful humanness? If you can’t, why can’t you? What’s the harm in giving that kindness to yourself?

Which is it? Is my body important or not important?
I know it sounds like on one hand I’m telling you that your body isn’t important, so you should stop hiding it. And then on the other I’m saying it’s important so you should stop hiding it. Haha. But bear with me. It’s both.

It’s not really about whether we actually see your body or not.  I know a lot of people judge us for our weight and it feels even more so with social media these days. Fuck them. Fuck all of them and their judgey selfs. It’s really more about the messages you are sending by hiding – the message you are sending your kids (discussed above), to yourself and to your sweet body. Nevermind the message you are sending to others – it’s like a beacon telling others that you value yourself less. And some assholes will see that as permission to treat you as less.

Your body lovingly and carefully carried those children for 40 weeks. In many cases, it physically provided food for them in their first year. Your body enables you to do all the things that you do. Go to work. To and from school events. You wake up still breathing each morning. You, at whatever current size you are at, whether it’s big or small or somewhere in between, care for your family, your friends and everyone you meet in some way. You go the extra mile anytime it’s asked of you. You are a rock when necessary and a teddy bear when called for.

As a side note, this isn’t unique to moms. Even if you haven’t had kids, your body too, it also does amazing stuff every single day! Maybe it’s run marathons, works double nursing shifts or has beaten cancer. Maybe it’s gotten you through heartbreak and back again. It literally stands up for you, every single day. It’s the BEST friend we can have.

I am amazed by how generously loving my body is to me, still, despite the abuse I have put it through! This thing keeps on giving back to me. It’s self-less. And doesn’t that deserve some respect?

Your heart beats. Your eyes open. Daily.

Your heart beats. Your eyes open. Daily. Just that it exists at all on this planet, in this universe is a miraculous feat.

Doesn’t your body, don’t YOU, deserve more than to be hidden?

Your body is a prize. It’s award winning. It deserves applause. It’s beautiful as it is.

This is the body you have. This is the only life you have. You should enjoy both while you can.

Your heart beats. Your eyes open. Daily. Just that it exists at all on this planet, in this universe is a miraculous feat.

Please don’t hide yourself.

Please put down any shame or discomfort you may have about getting your picture taken. Jut out your hip like you own that body the way you want to (because you do whether you believe it yet or not).

Flaunt it like you respect it. Like you already KNOW how amazing it is.

And what’s great is when you do that enough, when you “fake it until you make it” with your physical posture – you actually will start to feel more confident (and you may even take better care of yourself – which will be reflected in your appearance). Don’t think about it. Just do it. Treat your body like it’s a trophy worthy of being on display. If you want to practice this, please watch Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk – Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are and do the poses she talks about. It’s ridiculously powerful.

Show your kids that you love yourself, that you are unashamed and unabashedly YOU, that you are living your life and not thinking twice about filtering it for the masses. Your body is amazing as it is right now and you don’t have to hide it anymore.

I see you. I see who you are inside. I don’t think she is someone worth hiding and I hope that after reading this you agree.