Below is a guest post (our first!) by fellow feminist Stephanie Harig.
Good question. Admittedly, I cringed when I first read the email from my dear friend Lisa requesting this blog post. I mean: I’m having a nice vacation and you want me to go there?!
Luckily, I’ve been taking a lot of yoga classes while home for Winter Break, so my next step was to take some breaths, close my eyes, and clear my head. I then got to thinking about the question itself and trying to get past my (negative) knee-jerk reactions about my body and my whole self.
The truth is, I’ve come a long way in the last few years in terms of my body image. And I’m now in a place where I can answer this question. Sort of anyway (notice how it has taken me 140ish words to even get there?).
OK fine. The problem, of course, is that answering this question requires a tacit assumption that I DO indeed like the way I am. Which is the difficult part.
But honestly: I do. Or I am really, really trying to, anyways. It is hard though – women in particularly are taught to dislike their bodies and their whole self. And we make it hardest on ourselves and on other women. Well here is what I say: no more of this self hatred.
Here is why I like the way I am:
- The way I am is the way my mom, aunts, and grandmothers are. Yep. I get my body and part of my identity from the women in my family. Dishonoring my body ultimately dishonors them. And women have been dishonored enough. So I love that my maternal grandmother and I share the same chin, cheeks, and smile. And I love – yes LOVE – that both my grandmothers, my aunts, and my mother all have the same hips and butt that I will surely continue to develop.
- There are a ton of people who love me just the way I am. To have a partner who refuses to engage in negative body image talk with me is a powerful, incredible, wonderful thing. To have a family that rarely commented on my body – other than when I was too thin – is a gift. I wish everyone could be so lucky. And to those women who do not have such support networks: You Are Beautiful Just As You Are. Accept it, breathe into it, and run with it.
- My brain. Let’s face it: We women are smart, dedicated people. And negative body image only takes away from that – it only drains our energy and negates our strengths and capabilities. Why on earth should we do that to ourselves?
- For the women who come after me: I am thinking specifically of my partner’s nieces. They have no clue that they are supposed to be self conscious, self-hating creatures. Tonight we danced and jumped and played without worrying about our size, shape, number on the scale, reflection in the mirror. And they deserve an entire life free from such worries. And the ONLY way I can teach them to live such a life is to demonstrate it for them, is to be one woman in their lives who does not worry about such stuff. But kids are smart – they can tell when adults say one thing and do another, so it would not be enough for me to talk about it. I must honestly, truly, fully, love the way that I am.
- And now: my hair, my laugh, my blue eyes, my height, my tiny hands and feet, my nose, my shoulders, my stomach, my thighs, my calves are parts of me I like, and are reasons I like the way I am. These body parts – and the rest – do not define me or dictate my mood, day, life, BUT they do make me, well, me. And they are each and all beautiful and wonderful and part of why I like the way I am.
My journey to like the way I am has been long and painful, tumultuous and joyful. And it is by no means over. But my journey is eased by talking about my struggle and by surrounding myself with people who are positive about their own selves, bodies, and struggles. We do each other a huge disservice with our negative body talk and we’ve got to stop.
I like the way I am. I hope you like the way you are. You deserve it.