Today is Love Your Body Day. I’m not usually big on “National Fill-In-The-Blank Days”, but I think this is a pretty important issue, and I’m definitely on board to recognize it. As best as I can tell, this day is sponsored by the National Organization for Women (NOW), and I’ll let their website do the talking for why this day is important:
Every day, in so many ways, the beauty industry (and the media in general) tell women and girls that being admired, envied and desired based on their looks is a primary function of true womanhood. The beauty template women are expected to follow is extremely narrow, unrealistic and frequently hazardous to their health. The Love Your Body campaign challenges the message that a woman’s value is best measured through her willingness and ability to embody current beauty standards.
This is actually a pretty big problem for me. Logically, I know that A) I have reason to believe I’m not completely hideous, and B) even if I were, I have a lot of other wonderful qualities that would balance out my looks. This does not stop me from looking in the mirror some mornings and wanting to do nothing but crawl back in bed. This doesn’t stop me from watching my diet by the calorie, or denying myself a meal that I’m craving because I didn’t starve myself the rest of the day.
I also understand that this is a much more serious problem for many people, and “can lead to eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression — three of the most common mental health disorders in girls and women, according to the American Psychological Association (APA)” (NOW website). Plus, the fact is that body image issues for women are very closely tied to the way women are sexually objectified in our culture, which opens up a whole new can of worms. Not only does objectification lower girls’ ability to perform well in school, but it also definitely contributes to the rape culture that is so prevalent in America. Bottom line? Girls (and boys) are so much more than our bodies, and even though I’ve known that for forever now, it’s time I start practicing what I preach.
So what did I do today to love my body?
- I did exercises that I wanted to do, when I wanted to do them. Not because I want to look like a supermodel, but because I want to treat my body well, and help keep it running as smoothly as possible. I pushed myself physically today for my own sake, not for anyone else’s.
- I ate as frequently as I wanted to, but, for the most part, I did my best to put healthy food into my body instead of junk food. This followed the same logic as the exercise, although I am currently cooking a pizza for dinner :). For me, food is an interesting concept, one that I haven’t quite figured out how to best approach. On the one hand, I get that there are genuine health benefits to choosing a salad over a hamburger for lunch. On the other hand, the fact that girls are socially expected to choose the salad, rice cake, and diet bars makes me want to eat pizza and chocolate just on principle. I think the conclusion I’m coming to is that it’s really all about your mindset. Eat healthy for the sake of your own wellbeing, not because you need to look like an airbrushed supermodel (which I don’t think involves a healthy diet anyway). But if you want a cookie, or a slice of pizza, or ravioli now and then, don’t deny yourself! Again, easier said than done, but I think today is a perfect day to start.
- Last, and hardest of all- I forced myself to not criticize what I see in the mirror. That is so hard for me, especially when I’m getting dressed. I see curves that weren’t there a few years ago, jeans that fit a little tighter than they did when I bought them, and “problems” that just don’t seem to go away. Today, though, I refused to give into those thoughts. Instead, I saw a girl who is beautiful, and who has no reason to change at all. I know everyone says it, but it really is true how much your mindset can affect your confidence!
I know it’s just one day, but I’m hoping that Love Your Body Day will inspire me to make serious changes to how I view myself and my life. There is no reason that anyone should suffer from low self-esteem, or worse, because of the body God gave them. Of course, I can’t exactly tell someone else that if I don’t believe it myself, so here’s to a new start on loving myself the way everyone should!
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Taking joy in living is a woman’s best cosmetic. ~Rosalind Russell
“You are not a mistake. You are not a problem to be solved. But you won’t discover this until you are willing to stop banging your head against the wall of shaming and caging and fearing yourself. ~Geneen Roth
“Let me ask you something, in all the years that you have…undressed in front of a gentleman has he ever asked you to leave? Has he ever walked out and left? No? It’s because he doesn’t care! He’s in a room with a naked girl, he just won the lottery. I am so tired of saying no, waking up in the morning and recalling every single thing I ate the day before, counting every calorie I consumed so I know just how much self loathing to take into the shower. I’m going for it. I have no interest in being obese, I’m just through with the guilt. So this is what I’m going to do, I’m going to finish this pizza, and then we are going to go watch the soccer game, and tomorrow we are going to go on a little date and buy ourselves some bigger jeans.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4