body image journey
self portrait diptych, canon digital rebel xti
Since I was old enough to grow curves on my body, I have spent my life trying to embrace them and encouraging others with curves to do the same. In a world where the media has influenced us to believe that thin is beautiful...it leaves those of us that are curvy, even at our thinnest or fittest, to search within for our self esteem.
Growing up and into my adulthood, all of my sketches of women were very curvy and soft. I also found myself attracted to the most curvy of celebrities. If I was blessed enough to have a curvy friend, we would combine forces and empower one another to be confident and sexy in a crowd of thin people. Sometimes I wondered if I adopted this attitude because I simply had no choice but what it always came down to is I find curves beautiful. I especially find them beautiful when women embrace them and march on to their own womanly tune. Like this sexy goddess in the kitchen.
Throughout my life until now, I have heard from many people that they appreciate the way I embrace my body and curves, even when I am 10 or 20 or more pounds heavier than I am "supposed" to be. I loved the fact that this confidence inspired others to search within and feel the same. I have always responded to them admitting that I struggle with it at times but at the same time, I try to practice self love and look within rather than at others.
Although, lately I've noticed that now that my abundance of energy is resurfacing and I am able to incorporate exercise into each day the way I used to, I've managed to be really tough on my body image. When I became aware of how far I have to go to get back into shape, I quietly started tearing myself apart, betraying my body and heart with that critical inner voice. Not a way of being that I am comfortable with and something I have always tried to nurture so that it won't fall to a damaging place for my self esteem.
I became more aware that this was happening when I spent some time in Santa Monica with some of my girlies. We were walking downtown and I noticed all of the perfectly coiffed LA Ladies that appear as though they get facials, manicures, pedicures each day all the while fitting in time for their trainer at the gym for five hours (bless them). For a few minutes, I allowed my inner critic to convince me that I need all of these things to be beautiful too. Oy!!
I had gone to Santa Monica for a photo shoot and then was invited along to a few girly festivities, which I was ecstatic about. Although, when I realized that I only brought along with me photo shoot attire along with flip flops, I started feeling very self conscious. As we walked in a line of four down the street, I felt myself cringing about not having stilettos on and sexy duds like my girlfriends. I felt the ache of inadequacy hit my belly and my inner voice tell me I was not enough (not pretty enough, skinny enough or dolled up enough). It was sad for me to even entertain these thoughts when my priorities have been focused on deeper issues in my life lately. Issues that are more important to me than the right shoes to wear to a particular bar. It felt distracting and annoying because I rarely allow myself to go there long enough for it to penetrate my mood or being.
As we entered the bar, I took some deep breaths. I put my thoughts and energy towards feeling centered and bringing myself back to a place of gratefulness. Grateful that I was with some extraordinary women and while most everyone around us was talking about the latest styles over martini's, we were all discussing Buddhism and meditating. As time passed, those feelings of not being enough subsided but it made me realize that I haven't been nurturing that part of me where some deep rooted insecurities live and surface when I least suspect them.
Yesterday, I took a shower and then sat in front of my one and only long mirror in our home. Rather than look away from those parts that appear bulgy, rolled or dimply, I stared at them tenderly and gave them love. I said out loud that I love that part over and over again. Then I looked in my eyes, searching and waiting for that sincere moment when I believed it. Yes, some very cleansing tears were shed and I felt like I was breathing life into myself again. As much as it is wonderful to hear from my loved ones "But you ARE enough"... it reaches deeper when it is my voice I hear.
I left this exercise feeling lighter and more kind to myself. I'm just now starting a new journey of re-introducing regular activity into my life. That is one way to love myself but then the rest is up to my inner voice and what thoughts I choose to believe or let go of. It's a whole body and soul body thing, its a body image journey I am working on and I need to remember that gentle balance.
Every journey ebbs and flows and this one in particular is especially tender for all of us.