Owning Your Awesome: It's Not Conceited
By Bonnie Ratliff on August 24, 2011
BlogHer Original Post
When I was about nine –- the age my daughter is now –- I was told I was fat. Which was untrue, actually, but which quite literally scarred me for life. My own mother tried to teach me how to not hate myself, but she didn't walk the walk as they say, and I learned, through her actions, how not to love Me.
And then when I was about 20, I joined an Internet forum focused on weight loss, but this wasn't your typical weight-loss forum. These people were the first to teach me how to love myself. I learned to see my body as more than just a Thing to look at. I began to understand how much it does for me every day, much of it without me ever noticing it. My strong legs carry me up the hills I hike. My arms toss my children onto the bed, giggling. My lungs breathe, my heart beats, my digestive system does its stuff. My body is, literally, my life. My body is kind of awesome.
And so when I had my babies and my body was so changed, I struggled with the conflicting emotions of being proud of how well it had carried and nourished them and being ashamed of how I looked. And, of course, The Shape of a Mother was born.
When my children grew old enough to hear and understand me, I made a commitment to not let them hear me badmouth myself. Funny thing (or, you know, not funny) is how much difference just that little thing made in how I felt about the way I looked. How can you possibly come to a place where you love yourself if you are abusing yourself daily? You can't.
Over the last few years, with a lot of spiritual and personal work, I think I've come to the conclusion that love of your physical self is only a part of the picture. It represents your deeper love of your inner self. True self-love is not possible without digging deep and acknowledging and accepting and learning to love your whole You. In addition to my previous rule about quitting the self-abuse, I began talking to myself as though I were talking to a friend -- lovingly. Funny thing (or, you know, not funny) is that it worked. It's not just my body –- on the whole I am kind of awesome.
Which beings me to something I am struggling with now in this journey to Complete Self-Love: Owning my Awesome. I've been taught, as I imagine most women have, to not be conceited. It's not considered attractive to admit to loving yourself. The reason for this is that our culture works the way it does on certain unwritten rules and those rules are best enforced by keeping people feeling low enough that they comply. For every woman in the world to suddenly stand up and Own her Beauty –- and I mean truly and deeply OWN it –- would cause major shifting in society. And that's kind of really scary. I believe in something I like to call the collective subconscious. In other words, the subconscious of everyone in our culture working together for the good of the culture without even realizing it. Unfortunately what's best for society is not necessarily best for us as individuals. And to take a stand and do what's best for you -- in this case Owning your Awesome -- is really damn scary.
Luckily we have the Internet.
Own Your Beauty this year has been incredible. A formidable force of women bucking those bullshit rules and Owning their Awesome. Owning their Beauty. Their full, deep, powerful, awesome beauty.
Funny thing (or, you know, not funny) is that just by being here, just by reading and participating and thinking and doing the Work, I've come so much farther on my path to Full Self-Love than I have in years gone by. I think it's because of you. Because we reflected on our inner and outer selves together. Because we analyzed why we do and say things to ourselves together. Because we looked in the mirror and decided to stop hating ourselves together. Because we Owned our Beauty together. You were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And you know what? So was I.
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Own Your Beauty is a groundbreaking, year-long movement bringing women together to change the conversation about what beauty means. Our mission: to encourage and remind grown women that it is never too late to learn to love one's self and influence the lives of those around us - our mothers, friends, children, neighbors. We can shift our minds and hearts and change the path we follow in the pursuit of authentic beauty.
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