To say I struggle with body image is a massive understatement. Outwardly, I appear to be a secure, comfortable-in-my-own skin badass woman. Inwardly, I’m self-critical to the point of being destructive. When I’m in the privacy of my own home, I stand in front of my bathroom mirror in my underwear and scowl at my reflection, twisting and turning so I can see the soft, doughy skin of my hated midsection from all angles. Sometimes my husband walks in on me doing this. He will smile appreciatively or pat my behind affectionately.
He sees a woman that he finds desirable.
I do not see the same thing.
Most people would call me curvy or statuesque. I’m 5’11 and I wear a size 14. Most people probably wouldn’t refer to me as fat or plump but no one would call me skinny, either. The bra and panty clad reflection in the mirror bears a strong resemblance to the slim girl I was in my early twenties … that same girl who used to do the same thing to her reflection, criticizing dimples and rolls that probably weren’t even there.
My body is strong and healthy. I can run a 5K without stopping to walk or getting winded. I don’t have high cholesterol or high blood pressure and my doctor has never told me I needed to lose weight. I can thank genetics, aging, and the steady diet of antidepressants that keep me level for the paunchy midsection I obsess over.
Sometimes I catch myself thinking things like, I would give anything to be thin again — but I don’t really mean that. With the exception of some unhealthy and obsessive body anxiety, I have a pretty happy life and I wouldn’t trade my family, career, or my health to look better in my underwear. Despite what I say, I would not “give anything” to be thinner or less jiggly.
I think what I really mean is, I would give anything if I could accept myself and love myself as I am.
And then, I happened on the #MORETHANMYBODY movement and it’s starting to change my thought process.
In her video, White quotes Simone de Beauvoir: “To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.”
Have I done that? Is my unhealthy self-talk really doing that much damage? As much as I don’t like to think about the honest answer to that question, the question itself is important.
White’s video, entitled “More than My Body,” features the stories of women of various shapes and sizes with various feelings about the way they see themselves. They’ve stripped down to their underwear and revealed their most personal thoughts about their bodies.
Although someone’s physical shape might be the first thing you notice, it isn’t — or at least it shouldn’t be — what defines someone. As White says, “We are more than our bodies. We are all unique, our journey is our own and our bodies should not define us.”
And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing — defining my worth based on a few ounces of jiggle around my midsection. White’s post is generating an amazing online response since it was posted on January 22, which is an indicator of the strength of the message. We all see ourselves in the stories of the women who bravely bared their skin and their souls. You probably see a body in that line up that looks sort of like your body or hear words that echo your thoughts, feelings, and self-talk. The video is beautiful and emotional, and challenges us to love ourselves for who were are.
I can’t say all of my negative feelings about my body have melted away because I watched one video … although I wish it were that easy. But, watching this video gave me hope and it gave me new resolve to stop tearing myself down and to start being more accepting of who I am and how I am made.
And, if I can accept the way my body looks, maybe I can learn to love it.
White says, “Stop being your biggest critic and become your biggest fan. Remember that you are amazing, you are unique and your story matters.”
I am going to write down these words. I am going to read them to myself the next time I catch my reflection in the mirror and get the urge to tear myself down. I will keep telling myself I am amazing and unique because it’s the truth.
And so should you.