Today I will love my body

I had originally planned to write this post sometime in February, inspired by listening to a lot of Margaret Cho. Obviously that did not happen, but I guess there was a reason for the delay. A few days ago Cheeseslave posted in praise of curves on women. I’m all sorts of for that, but her post also triggered some backlash from women who do not fit that body shape and felt slighted by her wording. Joy from the Liberated Kitchen weighed in with her own words as a woman with a body shape on the other side of the spectrum.

Kudos to both of them for speaking up. It’s HARD being a woman in Western culture. The body type considered ideal changes periodically and no matter what it is, there is always a group of women who do not fit into that mold and feel like they have been somehow rejected by the culture. Whether they’re super thin, or curvy, or just large, it does not matter. Somehow, by not conforming to that type, they are not women. They do not garner the same type of respect, or admiration, or ability to find clothes which look good on them because the designers of the season don’t make shapes to flatter their figures.

See this? It’s me, taken today, April 29, just a few short hours before I wrote up this post. I don’t know where my body type fits in regarding whatever is currently trendy. And frankly, I don’t much care either.

It does not matter to me what the shape of the moment is. No matter what the overculture says, I love my body.

The ability to say such a phrase, especially for women, is a political act. It’s taking power for ourselves and not letting outside forces determine how we feel about ourselves. It’s also about not beating ourselves up because we perhaps can’t fit into whatever the current fashion trends dictate. I’ve rarely been able to fit them anyway.

About ten years ago, I weighed nearly 100 pounds more than I do now. Yes you read that right. The way I lost that weight is meant for another post, but the short answer is that it took seven years and progressive diet changes (all paving the way towards a traditional foods diet incidentally) to take off that weight. Through it all, with the ups and downs and short-term frustrations, I was determined to keep loving my body even while I actively worked to reshape it.

How did I do this? It’s a simple task, and also so hard for anyone to do who is not used to it. I looked in the mirror, took in my full shape (incidentally, flabby arms, bad knees, and protruding belly included in that), and declared my love for my body.

In fact, I encourage all of you, no matter your sex, gender identity, sexuality, religion, what have you, to go find a mirror now (or as soon as possible), take in your whole form, and love everything you see. Don’t worry, I will be here when you get back. I know it’s not easy to think or to say. It gets easier as you do it more often.

I wish someone could have explained this to me when I was a teenager, though I didn’t let being a little overweight keep me from doing the things I loved. I was a synchronized swimmer for seven years, and I was not half bad at it either. Did it without being skinny, and while being asthmatic and having chronic knee issues. Maybe that helped me over the long term, since I was able to do something beautiful while being part of a society determined to tell me that I needed to be skinny in order to matter.

In fact, how many of you are letting something about your physical form keep you from doing what you love or wearing what you love? I’m not talking about extremes where it might be a big risk to your physical health. I mean not dressing nicely because you think your shape means you can’t look good. I mean not doing any physical activity because you can’t do it perfectly. Like if I let the fact that I have a slightly bigger belly than I like keep me from taking belly dance lessons. I would have missed out the last three years of study I’ve done. I’d not have one of my friends, because my teacher Lydia and I have morphed into friends as well. And I’d not be an intermediate level belly dancer now, still working on layering individual moves and moving less stiffly but I can do the foundation moves well. And I can practice dancing for an hour without feeling too winded. Even if my knees might complain about the work the next day.

We live in a world fueled by supposed quick fix diets and overly processed foods which now have us convinced that food can’t taste great without somehow being sinful. And a lot of people have made themselves sick (me included) either for starving themselves, or eating junk, or feeling so down about ourselves that we chow down on too much of whatever in an effort to feel better or perhaps make up for starving ourselves.

Does that all really matter when we’re carrying around this idea in our heads that we’re somehow less worthwhile as people because we don’t fit an ideal someone else set? Are you going to stop living your life just because some part of society wants your money because you don’t think your body is good enough?

Today I love my body.
Will you join me?

Come join the fun on Facebook and follow me on Twitter!

I’m sharing this post at Monday Mania, Traditional Tuesday, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Fight Back Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Seasonal Celebration Sunday, and Freaky Friday.

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27 responses to “Today I will love my body

  1. Joy at The Liberated Kitchen

    Wonderful post! I love Margaret Cho, too. Now we just need a video of your belly dancing. 🙂 I have a lot of friends who belly dance and that community in general seems so welcoming to women of all sizes.

    Your post is right on, imo. It’s all about doing what makes us *feel* good in our bodies, not about restrictive diets or exercise regimens. It’s definitely not about trying to live up to some ideal. No matter where we’re at, size or health wise, the time is right to love and accept our bodies.

    • It’s going to be a while before there is a video of me dancing, unless Lydia decides to film me practicing. And thank you!

  2. I love this! I read Ann Marie’s and Joy’s posts, and I was really put out, which is unusual for me. Usually I take blogs with a grain of salt, if you know what I mean. But AM’s post just really hit a sour spot because I had already been thinking about body issues. My response was really my issue and not her’s. Either way, what you wrote is really the crux of the issue…it’s about loving oursleves and not looking up to an ideal. It’s not really about what other women look like or think they should look like; it’s about loving myself. Good job!

    • I can appreciate people praising body shapes which aren’t currently THE ideal, but it can also quickly turn into a case of putting down people who don’t look that way. We have enough of that already in this culture. And it sells a LOT of products and services.

  3. I’m with you all the way, Soli. I’ve only just after years of hating my looks come to love my body. I’m with you all the way, and have just liked your Facebook page. You can be sure I’ll be following you on FB. And you look lovely, by the way. Thankyou for your post, you’ve re-assured me.

  4. Thanks so much for this post, and congratulations on your journey! You are a new inspiration for me (and I need a lot of it these days!). I also was a bit offended by Cheeseslave’s post (actually I rarely look at her blog anymore as I’m often put off for various reasons). I for one admit to wishing a could have the hourglass figure, but instead, while I am large busted, I’ve always had very narrow hips and not much of a waist. Then with menopause I gained about 40 lbs (and I’m only 5’2″), and now have a large midsection, the “dreaded” apple shape. Besides all the statistics showing that fat in the midsection is the worst kind, for me the hardest thing is finding pants that fit! I’ve totally given up on jeans, and often end up with pants that either are very uncomfortable when I sit because they have a high rise, or ones that slip off my hips because they have a low rise. It’s very frustrating!
    I’m going to try the mirror exercise, which I know will be really hard as I struggle so much with accepting my body.

    • May the mirror exercise work well for you.
      Gotta also share something with clothing: during the nicer times of the year I just about live in dresses and skirts. It can be a lot easier to find flattering shapes for more body types with them. I also have a friend who sews custom shifts for people, if you’re interested.

  5. akismet-db6ee115d36a6f9f943722e11fa36e6b

    Great post, as usual, Soli! Very heartfelt and real, and you have hit the nail on the head. We must all love our bodies, no matter where we are in life. I personally think that if we love our bodies and regularly show it and tell it that love, then we will start finding harmony. Body issues them from a psychological place. If we can soothe the mind, it in turn soothes the body.

    I’m going to share on my FB page!

    Hugs!!!

    • I was trying to figure out why your “name” came up that way too, so I am glad that mystery is solved! And thank you for the praise. It always feels good to hear.

  6. I love my body, too!

    I have moments of feeling like I should feel guilty for not wanting to diet and try to lose weight. I’m five foot two and possibly over 200lbs at this point (last time I weighed myself it was 194, but that was years ago. No, we don’t own a scale.) (well, we’ve got a scale to weigh fiber). The truth? I could stand to eat better . . . but I also eat tons better than I used to. Indulging means something different than it used to. I’ve gotten a handle on my emotional eating, and I do not want my obsession in life to be about food — at least, I don’t want it to be about a negative relationship with food. Or exercise for that matter. Look, I’m on my feet 8-10 hours a day. We don’t own a car, and yes I take the bus more than I did this time two years ago, but I still walk a *ton*. Despite the abuse my body has been subjected to (I’m a major klutz, and yet I’ve only broken less than a handful of times) and despite the extra weight, my body rocks. It carries me around. No, it didn’t like the sprain last April, and it *really* didn’t like my not giving it time enough to heal (and thus, parked on my butt for two months, thanks, because ultimately the body wins those contests), but it’s been pretty great to me.

    Typically I only get down on my body shape when I have to shop for clothing, but damn it all, that’s not my issue, that’s the clothing industries issue, and I refuse to take it upon myself.

    I love this post.

  7. easynaturalfood

    Good for you, Soli! The most important thing of all is to feel happy and healthy, and able to live life to the fullest. Body shape be damned!

  8. This was fabulous. I’m another who was put off by Cheeseslave’s post and comments because she kept contradicting herself. Not everything is “solved” by eating a certain way, or taking cod liver oil, especially when it doesn’t *need* to be, like if someone is genetically thin. That’s what should have come across, and it didn’t. At the same time, we just need to celebrate who we *are*!

    • Life would certainly be a lot easier if that were the case. For example, I would have already dropped the weight I gained from the fatigue issues I had.
      Still loving my body though!

  9. YES! I have not read the other blogs you mentioned, but I really appreciate this one! We are all different and beauty looks like many things! I blogged about body image last year:

    http://gombojavfamily.blogspot.com/2011/08/beauty-is-experience-nothing-else.html

    I like this quote: Beauty is an experience, nothing else. It is not a fixed pattern or an arrangement of features. It is something felt, a glow or a communicated sense of fineness.~ D. H. Lawrence

    We really need to transform our entire way of thinking when it comes to what is beautiful. A beautiful life is one that is really lived–with passion and conviction and love. And that can shine through all sorts of shapes and forms and features.

    Blesssings!

  10. Lovely post!

  11. Soli, this is just awesome. I am so glad you shared it with us on FF. Can I be honest? I didn’t even read the post by Cheeseslave. I chose not to read it because I read Joy’s post first and decided it would just agitate me to read it, so why bother. From what I gather the commenters were the worst. But that is exactly the problem with addressing this issue at all. People are all over the map with hurts that they have experienced. In order to make ourselves feel better we always seem to point to others perceived flaws. Women are masters at this. I am so glad that you took the high road. So glad that you are loving your body. Now I need to go tell myself the same thing. . . . yeah that’s hard to do!

    • I am sure you can do it!

      n order to make ourselves feel better we always seem to point to others perceived flaws. Women are masters at this.

      This is so very true. If you ever want to look into such topics further, I highly recommend a book called Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman.

  12. High five for this!
    To me the trouble is that we never learned to outgrow the belief that others give us value through their gaze. My body is not beautiful because someone else thinks so, it is because it is a miracle of the natural world that lets me live and move and experience LIFE! Yes, beauty is felt, embodied, not represented two-dimesionally for the evaluation of others – and who are those other to me anyhow? – just as sexiness is the inevitable consequence of that felt beauty. Trying to paint either on sells everyone short.
    “some part of society wants your money because you don’t think your body is good enough” – I’m going to take that one further and say (as others already have) that there is some pretty callous and overt consumerist attempts to MAKE us believe our body is somehow not good enough. Don’t even get me started on how that belief feeds the surgical birth industry!!
    I’m pleased to know that I’m not alone in having dropped Cheeseslave over her new directions and tone in the last couple of months. We all deserve time of rebalancing, but perhaps blogging – and putting yourself in the public eye for scrutiny – during that process is something she could reconsider. Again, whose gaze gives her her value right now?

    • Well, I will say I am still reading Cheeseslave, and I understand where she was coming from, but like I said here it’s not about a particular shape. It is really just about loving yourself and taking the best possible care of yourself.

  13. I’m all over this. What a great blog post. The shape of a woman’s body is no one’s business but her own, and whether she is curvy, or bony, apple or pear shaped, fat or slim she is still a ‘real woman’.

  14. rebeccawatkins

    Merrie above says it all really…Soli, you are beautiful- we’re all beautiful:-) Thank you very much for sharing this with us on Seasonal Celebration Sunday! Rebecca @ Natural Mothers Network x

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