Feeling good about and loving your body is, in no way, a prerequisite for accomplishment, happiness, or a full life. In fact, I’d wager that the vast majority of people out there doing great things, chasing joy, and filling the days with amazing activities struggle to feel strong and lovely. At least some of the time. You can achieve amazing things in life while still feeling uneasy or unhappy with your physical form.
The reason that I encourage women to work towards body love and acceptance is based on my own experiences. As I’ve said before, I used to truly, actively, and completely hate my body. HATE. It is not too strong a word, I assure you. I avoided mirrors, glass doors, all reflective surfaces because every glimpse I caught of my physical self filled me with loathing. So long as I could trundle through my days without looking at myself, I felt fine. But the moment I was confronted with my own image, the second I was reminded of my unacceptable chunk and frump and pasty-clumsy awfulness, I spiraled down into a dark, miserable place. The amount of energy I expended in self-loathing was mind-boggling. I wore myself out with it. Literally and physically. I was exhausted all the time by how unhappy I was with my body and my looks and my self.
And that didn’t stop because I changed my body or changed how I dressed or changed how I looked. Not exclusively. It stopped because I finally decided I just couldn’t live that way anymore. I couldn’t begin from a baseline of exhausted self-loathing and build my life from there. I needed acceptance, peace, and a little bit of loving forgiveness or I was going to burn myself right out, and quickly. And working toward those goals, striving to feel good about and even love my body, has helped me create a more stable, more sustainable baseline. I feel better working at life from this place, where I can look in the mirror and feel security, pride, and tenderness.
Humans are remarkably resilient creatures, and can achieve amazing feats utilizing scant resources. You do not need to love your body to lead a full and rewarding life. But it might help you to do so.
Image courtesy Nancy L. Stockdale