As women, we are handed so many messages about our bodies, every day.
Advertising, images on TV, mannequins in store windows, even our loved ones transmit images to us about how our bodies are supposed to look. We live in a culture where ageism is the norm, so these images tend to look one specific way: thin, young and hourglass-shaped.
Nevermind that most women’s bodies don’t fit that norm. And nevermind that it’s actually physically impossible for our bodies to continue to look like we did at 22-years-old, once we have aged (and evolved) beyond that.
Our bodies change throughout our lives. It’s the nature of being alive. Life is change, nature is change. We’re part of nature, we’re living beings. We’re not made out of plastic, and we can’t freeze ourselves in time. And we wouldn’t want to!
So how do we reconcile the changing, evolving nature of our bodies with society’s messaging that we’re supposed to look like slender 22-year-olds forever? How do we keep feeling beautiful through all the evolutions and transformations our bodies will go through over the course of a fully lived life?
Here are a few things I’ve found that have kept me feeling good in my body throughout all its transformations…
Focus on what your body does.
Every time I find myself hung up in society’s messages about how my body is supposed to look, I take a moment to be mindfully aware of all the things my body does for me.
My body enables me to dance, to move through the world, to eat amazing food, to work, to pick up my child, to create, to garden, to cook. That’s what a body is for. Bodies are here to carry us through the world, not to fit some randomly imposed ideal of so-called “beauty.”
If we’ve been physically able all our lives, we tend to take that ability for granted.
But actually—whatever degree of ability our bodies have is an enormous gift.
When I get hung up on how my body looks, a few minutes remembering how lucky I am to have my basic physical abilities tends to clear that right up.
Remember your body is a miracle.
It’s not just our physical abilities (whatever they are) that are an enormous gift—it’s the basic structure of our bodies themselves.
We are all complexes of billions of cells, working in concert with each other in gorgeous, elegantly designed interconnected systems to keep our blood flowing, our limbs moving, our brains working, our digestive systems converting food into fuel.
One look at our basic biology reminds us that we are walking miracles. When you touch into that reality—even a little—it’s a lot easier to love our bodies.
Reconnect with physical pleasures.
There are a million ways to reconnect with your body’s physical pleasures. Eat a beautiful meal. Take a bath. Get a massage. Have great sex. Stretch. Take a hot bath. Dance (or workout in another way that brings you pleasure).
When we connect with how our bodies feel—and remember that most of the time, it’s within our power to do things that make our bodies feel great—it automatically increases our appreciation for our bodies.
When we appreciate our bodies from the inside, those externally imposed ideals of what we’re “supposed to” look like on the outside start to melt away. Plus, when we feel good, it radiates outward, and makes us look good too.
What do you do to love your body throughout all its changes? Let us know in the comments below!