Learning To Love The Skin You're In
Oh, I guess I asked for it.
I wrote my post on accepting your beauty out of frustration with the constant negative self-talk I hear from other women. Why can't we just admit that we're beautiful? Why does it have to be so hard?
I had a difficult time writing that post because, as I said in the piece, admitting your strengths (especially if it involves healthy self-esteem) opens you up to criticism. Thankfully, you understood my intent. But I knew there was more to this topic than what I could tackle in one post. And, honestly, I wasn't surprised when Another Amber asked this question in the comments:
How do you develop a sense of self-love and appreciation for your body? I find myself really stuck here. I just can't get past all the feelings of inadequacy and -- frankly -- disgust.
Ah, yes...that's the real question, isn't it? How exactly does one develop self-love and appreciation for one's body? If it was possible for one answer to fit all (ah, the irony!) I would bottle it up and sell it. But of course it isn't and there isn't one answer but many.
I'm no expert, but what has worked for me boils down to one thing: being kind to myself. My research shows that the same idea has worked for many others. The particular advice may differ, but the central idea remains: treat yourself with the love you deserve, even if you don't believe that you do deserve it, and eventually it will come back to you. I know it's easier said than done, but ultimately it's easier to treat yourself right than to constantly put yourself down.
But why listen to me? I've compiled my favorite advice from women around the internet for you. Enjoy!
First, if you need some help looking at the positive side of life these Happy Habits from Operation Beautiful offer simple inspiration:
• Count your blessings. Even on your worse days, there are things to be thankful for. Got both legs? A family who loves you? A dog that licks your face when you come home? A job? A car? I used to get caught up in what I didn’t have, but now I focus on what I do have.
• Fake it until you make it. Even if you have to "pretend" to be positive, do it. Because eventually, it will become true.
• Re-assess your thinking from time to time. There’s a positive way to approach every situation. Life is hard enough without beating yourself down mentally.
• Ignore Negative Noise and Energy Vampires. Energy vampires suck away your positive energy and you feel exhausted after dealing with them.
Next, do things for yourself that make you feel gorgeous -- even if you don't think you deserve it. My new imaginary Internet BFF Sally (from Already Pretty) thinks that making an effort has has a positive impact on how you feel about yourself, and I couldn't agree more:
When you put effort into your appearance, you are less likely to hide from mirrors, eat nothing but crap, and withdraw from social situations. When you put effort into your appearance, you are more likely to receive compliments - important sources of external feedback that encourage you to CONTINUE putting effort into your appearance. When you put effort into your appearance, you don't wallow, you move.
Caring about how you present your physical self to the world makes you more present in your body. Presence in your body feeds itself, creating more care. The cycle of self-care feeding self-love creating more self-care allows you to broadcast a profile of self-respect and power. It reminds you that you can control how you feel about yourself. And that's powerful good stuff.
Just Linda left a few excellent comments on my previous post, but here is an excerpt of my favorite one, which she wrote in response to Another Amber's question:
...Feeling your physical form can help. I love when I take a bath and shave my legs at night and then climb in between the sheets. My body FEELS good. I love wearing a cute outfit and knowing that it complements my look - well fit clothing, etc. It FEELS good and when that happens, without even looking in a mirror, I can appreciate it.
But mostly, I don't want to squander NOW for the want of something else, something I just may never have. I want to appreciate NOW so that when its gone, I can say I gave it its due props while I had it.
Alyssa Rose left a comment on the Are You Beautiful? post where she linked to a fantastic post she wrote (which was inspired by Blogher CE Suzanne Reisman's Swimsuit Brigade). I love her post because she practically demands that we stop with the negativity:
It is IMPERATIVE that we:
1. Broaden our collective definition of “beauty” to encompass strength, health, personal power and sense of self.
2. Understand that one size does not fit all, and we all cannot fit into one size.
3. Understand that the media is a fantasy, not a mirror.
4. Understand that just because one person, or a whole group of people, don’t want to have sex with us doesn’t mean that we are not sexy. It means we’re not their “type.”
5. Fill the world with images of real strength and beauty to counterbalance the media sterotypes.
Accept your beauty and be kind to yourself. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "no one can make you feel inferior without your permission." I really believe it's the first step to happiness in your skin.
What are your strategies for feeling beautiful?