Ahhh, Valentine’s Day. The day when single women put up extra selfies with hash tags #lovethesinglelife, when double as much douchebags go out to score (because some of the women in clubs are served up with an extra serving of desperation) and everyone in a relationship needs to be all cutesy and buy each other fluffy stuff.
…Can you tell how much I don’t give a shit?
What I want for Valentine’s Day is women having a healthy and happy relationship with themselves. So I’m writing this semi-Valentine’s Day post not so much because of the rose petals, moonlight and serenades, but because of self love.
Self love doesn’t mean you have to navigate through life in a pink bubble, that you have to buy yourself a million pair of shoes or that you can never allow anything negative to enter your mind. Although I’m not gonna stop you if those are the types of things YOU want to do in the name of self love.
Self love, real self love? Comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. And take it from me, you can be a snarky piece of shit and still love the absolute fuck out of yourself.
We all have insecurities and doubts. About ourselves, our lives, what we are or aren’t able to do. These things are often voiced by our inner critics: That nagging feeling that you aren’t good enough. The voices you hear when something goes wrong that go “You see? You suck!”
On our good days we hear our inner critics occasionally, but not overwhelmingly so. We can shake them off pretty easily. But on our more vulnerable days, these inner critics of ours seem to be on speed dial and speaker phone at the same time.
They are able to derail all of our hard work and our happiness with some inner snide commentary, parading our mistakes or flaws around.
I was in my own inner critics’ headlock for most of 2013. Weeks (months) on end where I literally thought of EVERYTHING I am not good at or failed at in the past. My inner critics kept calling me out and giving me a hard time, about everything. It was like having multiple Sue Sylvesters in my head, but with less peroxide and hilarious one-liners.
Eventually I found my way out of their grip. During that time I learnt a lot about myself AND my inner critics. Now we actually get along (most of the time anyway.)
And so can you. Here’s some tips on dealing with your inner critic.
One of my Facebook friends posted this picture of these two women.
I thought everything about this picture is interesting. Most importantly, the idea of fitness and discipline versus body acceptance. In this discussion they are made out to be two separate things, but as you (hopefully) understand, the two are not actually mutually exclusive and actually go great together.
But I have a few opinions about the general ideas behind the “what’s your excuse” discussion that this picture stirred up. More below.
I don’t have the best body in the world. Nor the most logically proportioned one. And yes, sometimes I think “ugh” and “can u not”. But I love it anyway.
I mean, why the fuck not.
I grew it myself
I’ve had it for years
And I’m going to be in it for as long as I’m alive.
Might as well make the best of it. And making the best of it includes not being a dick to myself just because I’m not perfect.
I’m aware of the weird things and imperfections that come with my body. My boobs are hardly even there and then there’s a curve to my tummy that basically says “ERROR ERROR 404 ABS NOT FOUND lolz thx 4 trying”.
I have a pretty big butt, especially if you compare it to the complete lack of curves on the boob-front. Now I know Sir Mix-A-Lot would totally be down with the butt, but there is a whole lot of hip and thigh that comes along with it.
I have been thinner and more toned than I am now. When I got my heart broken at 21 I couldn’t eat for six weeks and dropped two dress sizes. When I do a 30-day Bikram Yoga challenge I lose all my water weight and you see all the muscle tone from practicing every day. Which I think looks good. But I’ve always had sort of a ‘soft body’, and a total bottom-heavy curve.
Even now that I am not at my thinnest, with some extra butt dimples and tummy fat, I am kind to myself about my body. I no longer scream abuse in my head when I see something in the mirror I don’t like. I did that when I was young and it didn’t make me feel better or help me get any thinner – it just made me moody and in need of a comfort cupcake.
I try to be loving. I take care of myself. When I get out of the shower and I see something unflattering I just grin and move on. It’s not that important.
And I focus on the positive of this body. I’m healthy and I feel comfortable in this skin. I feel energetic and thanks to yoga I can fold myself around like a garden chair. Even with that big ass in the way.
And over time I decided that it’s ridiculous that I, or anyone else, would feel bad for not having a perfect body. Or walk around with looming, horrible insecurity complexes. They weigh you down, they serve no purpose: You can still strive for diet, fitness and weight goals fine without them too, all they do is get in the way. You should cut them loose.
1. I am 25 years old, moderately attractive and people don’t throw garbage at me when they see me in my bikini or underwear. In fact, I’ve never seen anyone throw garbage at anyone because they were walking around half naked and they had chunky legs or a droopy butt.
This leads me to the conclusion we’re all doing okay, because other people really don’t care as much. People don’t go to the beach or the swimming pool to judge other people’s bodies (Plus if they did who would care about the opinion of an obvious LOON).
Also, the person who sees you in your underwear probably hasn’t gotten you that naked because he or she wants to judge all your body parts, separately and vigorously. They probably want to do other things to you. If you catch my drift.
2. In fact, people hardly seem to care about how YOU look at all. Honestly, humans all too self obsessed to notice other people the way they notice themselves. Just last year, I walked around an entire day with a Helena “Batshit Crazy Hair” Bonham Carter hairdo. Nobody cared. Because I was friendly and I didn’t care either. I’m pretty sure the same applies when you might have cellulite or a pot belly.
3. “That’s all nice and dandy,” you might say, “BUT I CARE.”
Well, care all you want. Of course your opinion about your body is the most important one and other people shouldn’t even matter to begin with.
But considering yelling mean things to yourself about a body part is counter-effective and serves no purpose, try to replace that dysfunctional caring with either a functional or a friendly way of caring. Rub it, accept it, exercise it, tap it, change your perspective on it, LOVE IT. Care in a way that works and that makes you happy instead of miserable.
3. Speaking of caring, how important is it REALLY that you are not model-thin or have the perfect ass? In like, the global scheme of your life and ALL the things.
By all means, work for the body you want, I think this is good for you in terms of self-esteem, discipline and health.
But I personally think there are more important things in the world. Things like education, family, friendship, doing what you love, to name only a few. Excuse the cheesetastic statement, but I truly stand by it.
4. Just like there are FAR worse things than not being pretty and FAR better compliments than being called beautiful, if a layer of fat is the worst of your problems, you’re doing pretty good in life.
I’m not saying that to demean your insecurities or the (wonderful!) determination you might have to work it off, I’m just saying that maybe it’s not the most terrible problem you could have. And maybe you should keep that in mind a little when you’re beating yourself up over not looking perfect.
5. There are people who are aesthetically quite pleasing, yet their personality is like dumb, mean, hot garbage. Alternatively, I also know some people that might be on the plain (or even weird-looking) side of Beauty, but their personality is like a Theme Park of Amazing with Bumpercars of Kindness and Roller-coasters of Dazzling Intelligence.
And all of a sudden I look at them and I find them breath-takingly beautiful. And want to make out with their faces. I’ve been wildly attracted to people with very imperfect bodies because they were just epic. What I’m saying is, how we perceive beauty can be influenced by other factors. This applies to you too.
6. Look at the people around you that you think are beautiful (the ones in real life, let’s leave Victoria Secret Catalogues and Photoshop out of this). None of them are perfect.
I’m pretty sure you’ll tell me that they look wonderful, and that they’re fucking cute in their swimsuits or hot pants. EVEN though they have definite flaws or weird scars or whatever. Explain to me why that same principle wouldn’t apply to you. Why can’t YOU be cute even with your flaws? Are you the exception? Answer: No.
I wanted to share this with you, because I have learned that I don’t have to be at my thinnest to be okay with how I look. Even when I’m bloated or lazy or when I look in the mirror and I see fat, I accept what I see and move on.
And I think it’s that body love that’s healthy and that gets you towards a healthy fit body way easier than the conditional “I’ll be happy with my body WHEN…” or “I’ll be satisfied with my body IF…”
Because if I look at myself in the mirror and I see something I don’t like I just shrug it off and move on with a mental comment to myself. “You know what, Dimple Butt? You’re still alright in my book.”
And then I go to yoga wearing tiny shorts without giving a single further fuck. The end.
Today, I met this girl who has a real problem. One that affects her life greatly. One that can be a huge obstacle in so many areas. But luckily, also one that can be overcome with some effort, training and time.
I told her she should go get help. I told her about all the people who could help her, the directions she should go in, the things she could try. Her response to me was: “Why? I don’t need to change. I am fine the way I am.”
At first glance, you might think this is a healthy way to look at things: it seems like self acceptance. This girl has embraced who she is, flaws and all, problems included, right?
Don’t let it fool you. Sometimes “I’m fine the way I am” is just an excuse to keep yourself from changing into what you can be, a happier, better version of yourself. Sometimes “I’m fine the way I am” is a clever way of those people to stay where they are, however limited or unhappy.
Because while self acceptance absolutely allows you to work on yourself, it is the lack of self love and self acceptance that will keep you from doing that. A lack of self acceptance is the thing standing in the way of personal development and improving your life. It’s actually the ‘I’m not good enough the way I am’ that can keep you from changing, when you know that change could be good for you.
Thing is, you’re right. You’re absolutely fine the way you are. Fuck, you’re wonderful in all sorts of ways. But if you really felt that way, why not allow yourself to be better?
That’s what I told her. “You’re fine the way you are,” I said, “I would never dispute that. I am saying you think about how you could make your life easier, better for yourself, because of that.”
She laughed at me. So for today, my only hope is that you don’t.