preaching vs. practicing body love

body

So i just realized something.

Although I may preach about body positivity and loving yourself for what you look like even if you don’t look a certain way, I certainly still don’t always practice that. And to be honest, that is making me incredibly nervous.

I’ve been experiencing a bout of negative thoughts about my body for the past 2 weeks, and I was telling a friend how its making me panic on the inside and I’m struggling to figure out why. And I’ll be honest: its because no matter how much I preach about acceptance of any size, deep deep down, I still wish I were thinner.

YES I SAID IT EVEN THOUGH I URGE GIRLS TO ACCEPT THEIR BODIES AT WHATEVER SIZE IT IS, DEEP DOWN I STILL WISH I WERE THINNER. 

Oh lordy lord what is happening. Yes I still wish I were a size 6. I still wish I were taller though tat’s impossible because I’ve lost my ability to stop growing vertically and not horizontally. But I’m guessing that this is a normal occurrence of anyone. I don’t believe that anyone hasn’t experienced a day in which they wish they were a size smaller. We’re all not perfect right?

I preach about body love and I engage in body love, but I have not accepted my body for what it is. Just the other night I was thinking about whether I should wear a cardigan over my sleeveless dress for a friend’s “last-day-at-work” dinner because I was so self-conscious of my arms. I dithered and dawdled for about 10 minutes, putting it on and off and assessing how I looked in the mirror and walking around my room like a headless chicken. Should I or should I not?! Then finally I said, “Oh screw it Serene just screw it. You can’t hide behind a cardigan for the rest of your life. You want to accept your body? Then stop hiding behind a cardigan. Who cares if your arms aren’t skinny? Life is too short to worry about what others say about you.”

And so I ditched the cardigan and left the room with my head held high.

A week ago a long-time friend invited me to her house to catch up on our lives over lunch. We’ve kept in touch ever since graduating from secondary school in 2008 but not met up because things have been so busy and we never found a proper time to do so. She recently got engaged and being the summer holidays for me, I was able to arrange a date to finally meet her and squeeze out her engagement details from her. So there being all self conscious about my calves in my room and going “Should I wear jeans or a dress? Will I look like a balloon in my dress?” And there the ritual went on for about 5 minutes, dawdling over what to wear and finally I just thought “Just the wear the damn dress Serene because you can’t hide behind jeans forever and if you want to start loving your calves, then stop hiding them and embrace them like frigging now.” 

And so I ditched the jeans, wore the dress and left the room with my head held high.

Here’s the thing. In both occasions, man (or woman) did I feel good. Like really good. I wasn’t worry about looking fat because I felt good in my outfits. I was walking with my head held high and not overly worrying about my calves or arms. I felt beautiful because I felt so confident on the inside. There I was, walking on the street and shamelessly (or not) thinking “Yeah people look at me uh huh that’s right.”

THEN that all came crashing down when my friend sent me pictures from the dinner the night before. And the first thing that came to my mind was “I look so fat maybe I should have worn that cardigan”. Yup. I said it. I thought just that. I forgot about what a happy occasion that dinner was and the jokes the group made over dinner. All I did was think of how my arms looked grossly wrong in that dress, how maybe it should be meant for someone with more slender arms and whether was it me or was there a blubber of fat over my face? Its like there were little devil minions running around in my mind waving banners with pictures of slim supermodels and chanting “LOL NOPE. NOT LOOKING LIKE THIS WOMAN HERE” Immediately I had already stated comparing myself to those standards and criticizing myself for it and thinking of all the “what ifs” and ” I shoulds”

So that’s when I realized this: I may engage in body-love practices, but I have not fully accepted my body for its size. I’ve got the behaviors going on, but cognitive restructuring still needs much more work.

Times like these make me wish that what my eyes see in mirrors are pictures I like what I see in the mirror but somehow they don’t translate all that nicely into pictures.

OH SHUT UP WHY WHY WHY ARE YOU OBSESSING ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK OF YOU, OR RATHER WHAT SIZE YOUR ARMS ARE WHEN THERE ARE MORE IMPORTANT AND SERIOUS ISSUES IN THE WORLD LIKE THE EBOLA CRISIS AND ISRAEL-PALESTINE CRISIS AND WATER SHORTAGE AND CHILD-BURNING AND RAPE?! PEOPLE ARE STRUGGLING AND DYING AND HERE YOU ARE COMPLAINING ABOUT YOUR BODY. STOP.

Such made me wonder: if I’m still struggling with positive thinking, how on Earth can I claim to want to help other girls love and accept their bodies? Does that make me a hypocrite?!

After much contemplation, I will say “no”. What will make me a hypocrite is preaching body positivity to others yet continuing to hate and starve and destroy my body just because I want to be thinner. I guess this is a much-needed trigger to start engaging in some change and working on the cognitive aspect of body love: perceiving my body in a more positive light and thinking more healthy thoughts instead of mentally shooting myself down for not having Jennifer Aniston’s arms. Maybe its because I’ve been avoiding mirrors, or that there hasn’t been an occasion when I need to take pictures of myself and then having to look at it to have truly experienced moments like this that require change.

Loving yourself is so damn hard I know it is, especially in a society like this where thin equates to beauty. Especially so for vulnerable girls, and even girls struggling with eating disorders and body hatred to begin with.

But like what my friend said when I told her how I compare myself to my friends who are thinner than me:

Think healthy. Not magazine

SO as per my goal of self-love and body acceptance, and also wanting to avoid to my ED days of self-hatred and body hate, instead of sitting back and moaning and whining about my body and engaging in unhealthy behaviors to drastically change my body, I pledge to practice more positive thinking and work on restructuring my thoughts about my body AND at the same time, continue engaging in body-love behaviors. I will not let those devil minions running in my head rule over me and I will respect my body to the best I can. I will lessen my comparisons to other people and when negative thoughts come up, I will suppress them and squash them like a troll stepping on dwarves in the Lord of the Rings. No matter how long it takes, I will continue embracing the power of positive thinking so that I will be strong enough to help other girls struggling with their own bodies. And to anyone reading this, whether or not you’re struggling with body hatred, I urge you to do the same. Embrace the power of positive thinking and affirmations and work towards finding peace within yourself.

Amen.

body3

body5

10 steps

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