I have spent so long being ashamed of my cellulite, so long feeling like a mutant for getting five-o-clock shadow on my legs, so long convinced that my decidedly non-flat abs were an embarrassment. I have spent so much time and energy trying to measure up to the unattainable standard, tearing myself down for being different, consumed with the shame of being … well, a human woman.
And it dawned on me recently that a lot of the messages that cause women to internalize body hatred are shame-based. Shame is a slow-growing, timed-release kind of emotion that can linger in your system for ages. It’s a fantastic tool for lording undeserved power over people, or manipulating them into uncomfortable or unnatural action. Shame works on us like a virus, and can be just as hard to eradicate. Especially when it comes to messages about how bodies “should” be shaped, sized, and configured. Shame is what we feel about our bodies when someone else decides that they’re not good enough. And damn it, they’re ALWAYS good enough.
Bodies are natural, living, changing creatures and no two are alike. The differences in our bodies enable us to procreate and thrive as a species. The differences in our bodies define our life paths, our abilities, our choices and tastes. The differences in our bodies shape and mold us in infinite and untold ways. The differences in our bodies should never cause shame. They should be celebrated daily.
I can’t say I’m quite prepared to jiggle my cellulite in public or wear head-to-toe spandex, but I AM prepared to begin fighting my own feelings of shame. I’m a work in progress, and I’m working hard. When that sick feeling starts rising up, I remind myself that nothing my body does is shameful, nothing about how my body is formed is shameful, and nothing that my body will become will ever be shameful. And the more I pound out that message, the more I feel it, right down to my shame-free bones. So maybe someday, I will be prepared for a nice public cellulite jiggle …
Next time you feel that sick feeling rising up, fight it.
Never let anyone make you feel ashamed of your body for any reason.