A few days ago, someone called me skinny. Me. Skinny. Suffice it to say, this took me by surprise.
I am not a size two. I am not even a size six. I have a pooch. I have bat wings. And I am always working to lose another 20 pounds.
So when this person called me skinny, an alarm went off in my head. Years of self-doubt and negative thinking compounded. You? Skinny? My brain questioned it. A red flag was raised.
But while I may not be Kate Moss-thin, the truth is I am not fat. I am not the 200-something-pound girl I was four years ago. I’ve lost a good 40+ pounds and am now what most people would probably say is average size.
I look good. Better than I have in my whole life. And while my eyes may not view my body as skinny, someone else did. Sometimes I still feel like that 200-pound girl. But that girl is gone. Someone needs to tell my brain.
I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. I think, in fact I know, that a lot of women, myself included, struggle with body image and self-esteem. And body image and self-esteem and weight loss are complicated. We’re hardwired to want that perfect, skinny body. We beat ourselves up for every “bad” morsel we put in our mouths. We focus so much on that unattainable ideal that we forget to appreciate the bodies we have.
I’m working on learning to appreciate my body — to see it through the eyes of someone else, someone who might call me “skinny.” These are the lessons I’m trying to teach myself — maybe you should learn them too.
Say thank you
My husband and I have been watching a lot of Marie Kondo on Netflix. And you know that part where Marie pays her respects to the house? That’s what we should be doing for our bodies. Every day.
Bodies work hard. They carry us from place to place, they fight off disease and they keep us alive day after day. And what do we do in return? Nothing but complain. We think our bodies are so far from perfect. We loath them We hate them.
But we need to appreciate our bodies for what they are today. Not what they could be if we only lost those extra five pounds.
There’s a lot of talk these days about “body positivity” and “self care” and while the concepts are great in theory, to me, they sometimes seem more like buzzwords than an actual movement.
Don’t get caught up in the Instagram filter-version of self-love. And don’t try to force it. Self-love isn’t a switch that can just be flipped on or off. It takes time and energy. So cut yourself some slack. Recognize that your attitude needs to change, but know that it won’t happen overnight. Accept where you are in the moment.
Look past your faults
None of us are perfect. No one has the perfect body. Let me repeat that for everyone in the back. None of us are perfect. No one has the perfect body. Say that out loud. Read it again and again — as many times as it takes to internalize it.
We all have faults, and we all mess up from time to time. But beating yourself up every time you eat too many chips or chocolates isn’t helping anyone. Every time we look down at our pooch, we can’t just feel disgust and hatred. We have to learn to see the good. And to see the “bad” as good.
Treat yourself as you would treat others
It’s the golden rule. Your mother taught you when you were little. But how about we turn it around? We deserve to be treated just as good as we treat others.
I don’t judge other people’s bodies half as much as I judge my own. I am constantly criticizing myself for my extra fat, my rolls, my curves. But I accept those same faults in others. I don’t hate another woman’s body because it has a bit too much fat. So why do I hate mine?
It’s time to tackle that voice in your head. The one that says you aren’t good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough. It’s time to show her love and acceptance. Time to skip the negative self-talk and embrace genuine self-love. I’m still learning how to do it, and every day is a journey. I don’t have all the answers. But I’m trying. And that’s all we can really do.