Friends, when did it happen? Can you think back in your life and remember the specific day it started for you? The day you looked in the mirror and hated the reflection staring back at you. Was it because a mean girl at school said your looked fat in your new jeans? Did a parent or family member tell you if you keep eating that way you will be huge? Did you hear someone say, no one wants to date a big girl?
We are not born despising our bodies or how we look. This is a learned and taught behavior. I want you to take a few moments and think about when it happened to you. When did you become aware of your body in a negative light? During a recent coaching session, my client had an AH-HA moment. For her, it happened when she was five years old. It was picture day at school and the teacher was lining the children up for the class photo. The teacher said to her, “Go stand on the top row, because you are big like the boys.” WHAT?!?!You have GOT to be kidding me! I would bet money the teacher did not mean for her comment to become seared in the heart and mind of the 5 year old little girl. But it did. And those words resonate today in the heart and mind of a 40 something year old woman. As innocent as this situation was, those words have had a lifelong impact.
For some, the moment comes in like a freight train or like a lightning bolt crashes to the earth. It’s fast and furious, leaving lasting scars like a forest fire. Did you know it can take decades for a forest to recover from a fire. Decades. Recovery can happen quicker, IF and I mean IF the conditions are right.
Many women become self-loathing because of something that happened to them as a child, molestation, rape, physical abuse, emotional abuse, addiction just to name a few reasons. No matter what your “why” is, the lasting effects are long, in many cases the lasting effects last a life-time, decades. Unfortunately, as Mothers, we hand this narrative down to our daughters. WE teach them to self-loath just as much as we do ourselves. Trust me when I say, this is never intentional, we would never intentionally do this to our daughters. But our “normal” is such that it becomes “normal” for our daughters.
My next statement, in my opinion, is the most power in this entire article; Self-loathing from a young age, WILL affect every decision and choice you make for entire your life. You will allow the wrong people in your life. You will allow people to treat you the way you see yourself. Let that sink in. You will settle for a job that mirrors how you see yourself. Let that sink in. You will surround yourself with a tribe of people that treat you the way you see yourself. Is it sinking in?SISTER, you are made for more! And if you see yourself in the truest of light, you will not allow the wrong people and the wrong things into your life. You will establish healthy boundaries and ultimately become the best version of you possible.
A couple of years ago, I read an article on social media. A Mother was on vacation with her family at the beach. Mother was lying on the beach, her son started taking pictures of her sleeping in the sun. When she woke up and saw the pictures she was mortified and furious. She barked at her son, “Why would you ever take such an awful picture of your Mother?”, as tears welled in his eyes, he said “Momma, I thought you looked beautiful taking a nap in the sun.” As you can imagine, this Mother felt like garbage, wow, her son saw her beauty as she napped in the sun, she saw cellulite and 40 extra pounds. The things we say and how we respond teaches our children how they will see themselves, how they will feel about themselves and in this case how girls are supposed to look to this Mother's son. WE ARE DOING THIS! We are feeding our children a negative lifelong narrative, it is time that we break this cycle!
Stop and think about how much time and energy you burn obsessed over your weight and how your body looks. What if you used all of that wasted negative energy and exerted the energy to something positive? What if you used the energy to further your career or improve your relationship’s? Work on your health or creating a positive mindset? The options really are endless, but my friend you MUST make a choice to see yourself as you are. You MUST make the choice to love yourself exactly the way you were created and intended to be. Our creator made you perfect in His image. PERFECT! You are exactly the way God intended you to be. Now can you be a healthier version of yourself, of course! We all have room to improve and grow in this area.
Alright sisters and friends, let’s start TODAY! Let’s vow to start today! To change the narrative, to break this dysfunctional cycle! Woman bond over insecurities, remember, bird of a feather flock together. Start with your tribe. Get your girlfriends together and start a conversation. Go around the room and have everyone in the room take a turn telling each other how they see you. I would bet how your tribe sees you is very different from how you see yourself. I challenge you, everyday compliment another woman, even if you don’t even know them, give them a compliment. The more you compliment other woman, the more comfortable you will become in your own skin. Most importantly, what you see in other women, is what you will begin to see in yourself.
Stop telling yourself that if you weighed a certain number, or wore a certain size you then will be happy. I am here to tell you that is a lie. Stop lying to yourself. Have you ever looked at a picture of yourself from high school and thought HOW did I ever think I was fat in high school? Sister you WERE your “ideal” weight and size at one time and you still were not happy. Stop trying to fool yourself and start loving yourself for the beautiful unique creature that you are! Happiness is an inside job, it starts with you!
So here is our plan; STOP comparing yourself to other woman. STOP IT already that behavior does not serve you well. I have been a photographer for 30 years, and have had many beautiful women in front of my camera, do you know how many love the skin they were in? Zero! The women you are comparing yourself too, do NOT see what you see. STOP looking at your stretch marks in a bad way, that tummy…carried a baby. Without the marks, you wouldn’t have your beautiful children. Those legs, have carried you to and from work providing for your family. Those arms, held your sick baby in the middle of the night. There are SO many beautiful things your body has done! Love and appreciate the scars, you are perfectly made, you are exactly they were you are supposed to be.
I challenge you to focus on health simply taking care of your health. It’s not about the number on the scale, it’s about putting good things into your body. When good things go in, good things come out and when bad things go in bad things come out. It’s not rocket science, it is a choice my friends. I challenge you to look at another women and give her a compliment. Take notice of how she receives your compliment. I would bet you will take her by surprise and a bit off guard. Your compliment is step one in breaking the self-loathing cycle for yourself AND for the women you complimented. The more you compliment another the better you will feel about yourself.
Get off the scale! Don’t get stuck on how much you weigh. Pay attention to what you are putting into your body. And don’t forget to exercise. Spring is here there is no excuses! Instead of an hour watching Netflix, spend an hour outside this evening on a walk.
Seriously Sisters, let’s stop this cycle. WE CAN DO THIS, One compliment at a time.