Who Are We? My Personal Journey with Body Image

*I wrote this blog some time ago, believing there is always a time and place for what’s in our heart. It dawned on me that the time is now. This election has taken a toll on me. I have watched and listened as people I genuinely care about are casting their vote for Trump. Why do I care so much? I think this blog post, a deeply personal account of my life and my struggle to love my physical form, tells a part of that story and why I believe a vote for Trump is a slap in the face of all women. Disagree if you must, yet I am entitled to this, at the very least. 

Just google the words “Body Image” and you won’t find a shortage of interesting articles ranging from eating disorders to images of women in various shapes and sizes. As a woman I find it interesting that so much time has been spent trying to understand this very dynamic topic. For myself, I think I have figured out that the mental image I hold of myself is often, though reluctantly, tied to my physical self. This is a very personal journey every person wanders through, sometimes focused and other times, as I do, quite by accident. I share a part of this journey with you now….

I stood in front of my friends camera, somewhat shy and unsure of what to do with myself. I had a cascade of thoughts running through my mind, “What does my hair look like”, “Am I shiny? Do I need powder?”, “Is this shirt flattering?”…..then I pause. I take in the moment and breath in my surroundings. I am acutely aware of the slippery self deprecating path I am wandering down. I must get off. On this beautiful sunny morning with intention I change my focus. I change my train of thoughts and turn to the beauty surrounding me and this lovely woman holding her camera. I find it interesting that as a woman who loves her body and all that it affords me that I still struggle with how others will and do see my body? My body, the mere shell that houses the real “me”. How did I get here? How does anyone get “here”?

It has taken me a very long time to understand how I got “here” though how I view “myself and my body” has evolved over time. And as I learn, have more experiences in this world, I image it will continually evolve until the moment I am no longer in this form.

The image I hold of my body ebbs and flows much like the currents of the ocean. I equate this ebb and flow with my experience on a surf board. As you stand up on that board, you feel muscles you rarely connect with, you feel each moment of air and water in a way one can not experience on land, and you forget all except that moment, your immediate surroundings and how amazing it is that this form can get up and ride that wave. You don’t even think about how others may be seeing you. You just are, perfectly present in the moment. True you feel exhilaration, then you may feel fear as you struggle to find balance, and in the end you may end up face first in the ocean. Not a failure, yet just a part of the experience. Learning to surf, learning to love your self physical and otherwise, is just part of this journey we call life.

As a woman who lived through 8 years of sexual abuse and a relationship filled with emotional abuse, I have carried with me the messages of those two very painful relationships. Messages that my body is not mine. That I am only as worthy as the people in my life say I am. I have spent years coming to terms with the dynamics of these relationships. I have come to understand the messages both boys and girls receive about their bodies. For the most part I know who I am, I am not my body, my body is a vessel, a vessel that carries me from one place to the next, that can jump, skip, dance in the kitchen and carry and birth two amazing human beings. I remind myself daily that my body is vital, it is strong and will be with me until I draw my last breath. And I will treat it as such. I will nourish it with healthy food, strengthen it and treat it as the amazing gift that it is. I will continually come back to all I have learned about who I really am: a soul, a spirit, both housed in a vessel we call the body. The vessel very much an extension of me, though not the defining part of me. How I view and treat others. How I choose to live my life. How I will live my life and give back to others. These are the real aspects of me that I will connect with, return to and at the same time I will treat my vessel with kindness and respect and will expect nothing less from those in my life.

And in the end, what we all want is for others, anyone, to see us as we truly are. And in my case, how I feel inside: funny, strong, compassionate, smart, silly, kind, tender, serious, creative, energetic, and on most days fearless. I feel all of these things, though it may not always show. Especially in those moments when I let “old” and “new” messages about “me” creep in. Yet, I am so grateful that my voice is strong and almost always wins in the end.

So in the end it is all about knowing who you are and being true to it. Find clothes that represent who you are. For me it is about wearing stylish shoes that allow me to walk for hours, pants that allow me free mobility, and sometimes, reconnecting to that little girl who likes to dress up and where those uncomfortable but fun high heels. Know who you are and let it shine through. And when we momentarily forget who we truly are, because we all do, we can close our eyes, breath and just “feel”, for in that “feeling” we will find our true selves. Remember life is a marathon not a sprint, take it easy on yourself, stay hydrated and….

 

Your DelightfullyUrban Blogger~

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