You know what’s weird/sad/funny? It’s so much easier to forgive another person for their transgressions and faults than it is to forgive ourselves. It’s widely reported that social media is contributing to our feeling “less than”. It’s not just one area that this applies to. We’re all feeling bad over our parenting skills, dietary choices, music likes or dislikes, bodies, sexuality and so on.
In an attempt to help myself feel better despite my chronic health conditions, I recently took up yoga. I was drawn to it not just for it’s physical benefits, but the emotional and mental benefits as well. But sadly, even in this community, which one would think would be hippie dippie zen, there is fat shaming, posture shaming and alignment shaming. It’s hard to go to classes as a disabled middle aged woman when I’m surrounded by thin, lithe 20 somethings clad in their spandex and little bra tops. So I usually just follow a yoga DVD I have here at home, where only my cat can see me.
I experienced similar issues when I was a runner. I constantly compared myself to the super speedy runners, those without health concerns. I wound up losing my passion for running because I was putting so much pressure on myself to measure up. I am a slow runner, I’ll never win any age group awards, never run a 20 minute 5k, so I gave up. And that makes me sad. Sad I let other people’s opinions of me cloud my own. Sad I didn’t realize everyone else was worried about that same thing, too caught up in their own worries to concern themselves with me.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m feeling bad about the weight I have gained due to my medicines and my decreased physical activity. I’m watching calories, choosing healthier foods and trying to move as much as the pain will allow. But when the scale isn’t moving, I get frustrated. I’ve always had “big” thighs- they’re muscular and got even bigger when I was running. But with all the hype around thigh gaps and size 00, I look down and feel miserable. I avoid wearing shorts, I’m self conscious about how pants fit so then I just put on sweatpants and feel bad.
I’m sure about 90% of you readers have felt the same at one point or another. I’m working hard to accept myself as I am. I may not be a size 00, but I’m certainly not obese. I understand the concept of a “healthy weight”, but I really think there’s too much pressure to lose weight everywhere you look. So I have decided that as far as my weight and my mental health goes, I’m going to start giving myself a break. Viewing myself as a valuable, attractive and awesome person isn’t easy, but I’m getting there. Rather than obsessing over how many calories I’m eating and burning, I’m going to eat foods that I enjoy that are good for me (or at least not complete junk). I’m going to stop viewing my body as flawed and ugly and appreciate all that it does for me. Instead of being ashamed that I have bipolar disorder, I am going to ramp up my activism for causes I believe in, especially mental health.
Feeling a bit more self love and self acceptance isn’t going to happen overnight, but it’s something I’ve committed to. Surrounding myself with those who build me up helps me immeasurably. I’m lucky to have a great guy friend who reminds me that while I may not completely love my curvier figure, he does. I have fantastic co-workers who let me know that my work matters and that they appreciate me listening to them. I am blessed with friends and family who never give up on me. I guess it’s all about perspective. You can dwell on the bad, or you can look for the good.
Additionally, I want to thank a beautiful young lady by the name of Britanie for showing me (and all her readers) the meaning of beauty, both within and on the surface. She’s come a long way in accepting herself and inspires me to do the same. You can read her blog (and gaze upon the most beautiful natural eyebrows ever) at beautybybritanie.com
Dear readers, if you have any thoughts or experiences you’d like to share regarding comparison, the shaming trends, or your own journey with self acceptance, please share them in the comments.