Although I spend an inordinate amount of time and energy thinking about my body, cultivating awareness of my body, and trying to love my body exactly as it is, I have a confession to make: If I’m in a good place, body image-wise, I DON’T think about my body. After I’ve been feeling good about myself for a decent chunk of time, my body becomes invisible to me. I get dressed effortlessly, see myself in the mirror and feel utterly neutral, give nary a thought to my physical self unless I stub my toe or get a paper cut.
And I suppose that’s acceptable. I’d certainly rather feel positive than neutral, but when I’m in this mode I’m comfortable with myself. I walk around the house naked a lot more. I don’t get hung up on cellulite or chin hairs. It’s quiet and relatively serene inside my head.
The unacceptable part comes when I shift out of invisibility mode. Because when that shift inevitably happens, it’s into nitpicking. I begin to see my body, but only as a collection of things that aren’t quite right. It’s typically during the colder months of the year. My hips get a little broader, my hair gets a little flatter, and my posture gets a little crappier. I start to eat heavier foods, feel lethargic and dull, put less energy into my personal style. The constant drone of self-critique begins to buzz in the background of all my thoughts, and passing the mirror becomes an exercise in disappointment.
And I want to change this cycle. I shouldn’t be invisible when I’m happy with my body, and visible when I’m not. I need to make more of a commitment to recognizing the beauty in my body at ALL times: Keep that positivity churning when I default to invisibility, and note the marvels of my figure even when I’m sliding into nitpick mode. And since I’m pretty sure the only way I can make that happen is to make it a daily ritual, I’m going to commit to that: Every day, right before I say goodbye to my cats, I will take 5 seconds to look in the mirror and express love and gratitude for the bounty of my body. No matter how good, neutral, or awful I feel, I will set aside one positive thought each morning for my physical form and see how it affects me.
Here’s hoping it brings my visibility extremes to level ground and reminds me that my body has beauty now and always.
Image courtesy Mike PD.