Last night, I received a disturbing series of texts from a dear friend who was experiencing an emotional meltdown because she thought she may have found a new stretch mark on her stomach. In the texts that followed, she told me that she wanted to die and that she did not feel worthy of life or love because she felt unattractive. This message is for her, but I decided to turn it into a blog because maybe someone else out there needs to hear it, too.
I’m sure if we were to cram a bunch of people (especially women) into a room and do a show of hands for everyone who has ever lost their shit because they looked in the mirror and were displeased, there’d be some strange comfort in knowing this feeling is pretty common… in this society, anyways. I cannot tell you how many times I literally wanted to die because I was so sickened by my reflection, particularly my weight or how much fat I perceived to have on my body. Times when I felt unworthy of anything because I perceived my body to be less than perfect. I’ll spare you the details of all the twisted tactics I have employed to lose weight or stay lean throughout my life, beginning around age 14. If I could take back all the time I wasted obsessing over how many calories I’d eaten, how many I’d burned, how much I weighed, when my next cardio session would be – I could probably put a decade back onto my life. I know that this stuff has all kinds of labels – body dysmorphia, body image issues, low self-esteem, anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, etc., but the real crux of the problem, I’ve found had nothing to do with my body. Or my mind, for that matter. We tend to think of body dysmorphia, self-esteem issues, and eating problems as disorders of the mind, but for me, it was more about my failure to identify that I am more than my body.
When all of my personal stock was hung up on the appearance of my body, I failed to see it for what it really is – a tool. I am more than my body, and so are you. We all have a higher self and a purpose. It is our jobs to keep our bodies strong and healthy so we’re able to navigate this life in the most enjoyable way possible! Climb mountains, run races, test our strength – to do things that we love, that move us, and that make us feel alive. If your body isn’t as strong or as fit as you’d like it to be, recognize that you have the power to change that – you quite literally have the power to change anything in your life. But if you’re beating yourself up because you can’t fit into your skinny jeans or your face looked puffy this morning, cut that shit out. It’s a wasteful and selfish way to spend the precious moments you’re given here – and no amount of self-flagellation has ever proven to melt fat, clear acne, eliminate cellulite, or correct any other self-perceived imperfections. In fact, the more you dwell on what you don’t like, the more power you give it over your happiness and peace.
You’re more than your body. We all are. You have beauty and talents, gifts and strengths that nobody else does. And losing sight of that, or failing to recognize it in the first place, because you do not like some aspect of your outward appearance, is one of the biggest disservices you can do to yourself.
Treat your body right, nourish it, love it, exercise it – it’s your most prized possession. You’ve only got one. Celebrate your health and vitality, see your body for the gift it is. Do not fall victim to the media messages you’re systematically bombarded with to make you feel ugly or worthless – those messages are designed to tear you down and destroy your self-esteem so you’ll buy the latest diet book, exercise contraption, fat melting stick, or any other false promises bullshit someone wants to sell you. You’re better than that.