Reclaiming My Body
The relationship I’ve lived with my body has been tumultuous to say the least. I was overweight since age 7 as well as into my teens and 20s and like so many others before me, I gave into the pressure to be thin that nearly destroyed me. Being thin was the only currency of life that I was interested in acquiring and I spent many years being at war with my body in every which way.
During the years where being thin was my “key to true happiness” I never felt pretty, never found clothes or a style of dressing myself that allowed me to fully express myself or reflected my personality. When I shopped with thin friends, I was secretly crushed that there were no clothes to make me feel good about myself at whatever size I was and I would often go home and try to ease the pain of feeling like I would never fit in.
I couldn’t “deal” with my body. Seeing myself in photos was torture. Looking in the mirror, with clothes or without was a feat. In my early 20s my chiropractor suggested I start putting lotion on my body because she noticed how disconnected I was from it. At the time, I could only start with my hands.
I spent most of those years in some form of depression and sadness and sadly hating my body all throughout. Hating my body took a lot of energy away from loving myself and it would be awhile before I could get there. Thinking about being weight, being thin and yo-yo dieting also took so much energy, it’s no wonder I lost all my creative juice during that period in my life.
After a long and arduous healing process, lots of soul-searching, self-improvement and soul-work, I finally came to peace with my body after releasing the pressure to be thin.
I discovered some of the reasons why I could not release weight was because I needed to feel protected from my feelings. I needed to feel protected from a world that did not embrace highly sensitive people like me. I also discovered I couldn’t let the feelings I’d had buried inside for so long, come up and leave my body.
Weight comes partially from unexpressed emotions. These emotions have weight to them, they have an emotional charge and density and they take up room in the body. As I began my internal healing process, I naturally began to lose density because I began purging my feelings, feeling them fully and letting them come through me until they were over. It was not easy or fun but it was worthwhile and navigating these energy flows is what saved me. As this happened, more and more, I naturally started tuning into my body, listening to it, giving it nourishment and caring for my body in loving ways. Little by little, the hatred I once felt, started to slowly melt away and I began to accept my beautiful curvaceous body with all it’s gifts and imperfections.
Internalizing Bullshit Societal Standards
In the midst of healing I also discovered how bombarded I had been with the societal standards for beauty via the media especially with magazines. I would buy and read fashion and women’s magazines for years, cut out pages (before Pinterest) and would plaster them on my walls for “thinspiration”. “I want to look like that” I’d say, “because I am ugly the way I am now”. “That girl must have it so much easier than I do. She can shop for clothes and walk out of the door feeling amazing.” When I realized these ridiculous unattainable ideals were doing nothing to help me, I did something so seemingly insignificant. I stopped buying and reading these magazines.
I stopped looking at the images of people that looked nothing like me. I stopped and I wasn’t aware of how much it had affected my idea of what was beautiful, confident and sexy. Back then, there were no blogs or body positive movements going on that would inspire me to love and accept my body the way it was. I stopped feeding my mind with this nonsense.
I also stopped watching TV shows that had anything to do with beauty or making people over.
I seeing myself naked.
After some time away from these images, I started to just notice my naked body instead of trying to change it. Simply noticing it without tearing it apart was a huge win for me. The mean thoughts shifted into observations and soon I was able to accept the way I looked without judgement. It was not easy but it was possible.
Drop the idea of becoming someone, because you are already a masterpiece. – Osho
Acceptance. The Truth About My Body
I was a thin child.
I started gaining weight when I was around 6/7.
My body is mostly proportionate.
I still have a curvy-ish shape even when I am thinner.
I’ve been on every diet you can think of. No carbs, no fat, no fruit, only soup, only meat, etc. etc. I know deprivation and I know nourishment.
I have stretch marks on my shoulders, arms, boobs, tummy and legs. I have loose skin in some of these areas as well. No doubt from gaining at a young age and losing and gaining so many times throughout my lifetime.
I have cellulite.
I have very “normal size” calves and thin ankles.
I have accepted these facts about my body.
I have accepted that I will never look like the women portrayed in the media even if I were to ever lose more weight. Nor do I want to. I love my body and I love the way I look.
I have accepted that I have to be careful with my weight because I have had lower back issues and for this reason, I must remain in movement, in alignment and be flexible with my body. Motivation for this has to do with my body’s well-being. It has nothing to do with how thin I am, how I look or what some guy is going to think of me naked if I am not a size 2. I am not a size 2 and that is perfectly ok with me.
Being thin is no longer a goal of mine. Embracing my health and taking exquisite care of my precious body, and loving it is.
and I said to my body. softly. ‘I want to be your friend.’ it took a long breath. and replied ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this. – Nayirah Waheed
From Body Shame to Body Love
I love my body. I really do. I love my body.
Unless it’s freezing cold outside, I sleep naked. When I wake up every morning, I see my cute, naked body in the mirror as I dash to the shower or to put some clothes on. I look at myself, and I take in my beauty. I observe, I notice, and I see. I do not shame it or pick it apart. There are some things I like more than others and what I like less fades into the background as I tune into to what I love most.
What I love about my body:
My eyes. My almond-shaped, brown eyes are definitely the window to my soul and I love them. Not only because they are kind but because they are intense and they do not lie.
A lover once told me in such detail how he loved my eyes. He would tell me how beautiful they were, that he would lose himself in them, that they looked exotic. Another lover told me some version of the same and that my eyebrows were “on fleek” (so cute :).
My smile. I love to smile and I love my smile and I see my kindness and my goodness in my eyes and face when I smile.
My shoulders/collarbone. I love my collarbone area, even with the stretchmarks on my shoulders, I love how delicate this part of my body is and how it looks when I adorn myself with a beautiful necklace or when I wear something sleeveless.
My boobs. I have small boobs for someone who is voluptuous and yet, I love them as they are. I love their shape, their size and I love how they look in a bra or without one.
My hands. I have beautiful hands. They are elegant, delicate and strong and one of the things I most love about my body. I also love what my hands represent for me which is the giving and receiving of love, affection and healing.
My arms. This one’s a toughie. When I was young, classmate from 7th grade commented on how large my arms were and ever since then I hated them. I lived in the tropical/humid weather of Houston, Texas for over 30 years and for most summers until recently, I spent summers with my arms covered no matter how hot or humid it was. My arms were covered in 100+degree/100% humidity weather with a cardigan or a button down shirt because I was ashamed of my arms and how flabby they were.
In 2014 started to find this love for my body and never again did I cover my arms like that. I wore tank tops and strapless dresses and I said to hell with covering my arms during the hot summers. And for the last 3 years I have remained faithful to this practice. I don’t care anymore and I will not keep my body covered because my arms are not thin. This part of my body is still a hard one for me to like, but easy to love. In fact now, most of my summer wardrobe is sleeveless, because hello, it’s summer. And I love feeling the sun on my skin and whatever breeze exists because I don’t cover my arms anymore.
My tummy. Oh how many years did I hate my tummy? The former bane of my existence? Especially when everyone tells you to suck it in? I’m not gonna lie, there are times when it is easier to love the tummy than others but I love it regardless. It’s not flat by any means and yet it is soft, curvy, and lovely. My tummy is lovely and I love running my hand over it as if to tell it “I love you”.
My legs. Once a huge topic of bullying, my thighs were tough for me to embrace as well. They have cellulite and they are a bit pudgy and way larger than my calves are, but my goodness, they help me walk and move and do so many other activities I am grateful for! My calves are long and mostly lean and I love they way they look in skirts and dresses and leggings. I love my calves.
My Feet. I have really pretty feet. They are a bit wide and I wear a size 10 but I have really cute toes and my feet are just beautiful. Another lover once told me “even though feet weren’t his thing”, that I should never wear shoes because my feet were so pretty.
Body Love Practices
After I shower, I caress my body with oil and lotion. No, I don’t want my skin to be dry, however this practice has become one of the ways I can connect with my body in a way that is loving and highly nourishing. I get to feel my body, my skin, my shape, my aliveness. Each stroke, is an affirmation of love. To touch my body, to feel love for it and to want to baby it is a true joy.
I take long hot baths and let myself indulge in the exquisite pleasure of being in water with bubbles, candles, music and incense. I get to feel my entire self melt into the bath and I let myself luxuriate and relax.
I get massages as regularly as I can and it still not often enough. To let someone touch my body and not feel shame over it is such freedom!
I take selfies to remind myself of how beautiful I am and I tune into that beauty through my own eyes. I let myself see what’s going on in there. It’s very powerful and so healing.
I pleasure myself quite regularly whether I have a man in my life or not. This has been one of the most amazing ways to show my body love and nourishment. (more on this here.)
Body Freedom, Bold experiments and I don’t give a fuck…
In October of 2014, the weather in Houston was still very summer like and I remember one day going to the beach with my then dog and a dear friend. I thought I had brought my bathing suit in the beach bag and I didn’t. The old me would have not gone swimming and sat this one out. But I wasn’t going to let a wardrobe malfunction take away the pleasure of this beach day in fall. I ended up going swimming in my bra and undies which looked much like a bikini. There were not a lot of people there, but I did it anyway and the freedom I felt, being that free with my body and not giving a flying fuck what anyone thought, was A M A Z I N G.
The ultimate bold experiment was recent. I did a boudoir/nude photo shoot.
I did it in January 2017, with my extra pounds of winter weight on. I did it with no shame and no regret. I felt good, comfortable and so incredibly free. I delighted and luxuriated in my body. I felt good. I felt sexy. I felt powerful and I felt joy. All these feelings were such a contrast to all of the loathsome and hateful feelings I used to have about my body.
I had an interesting reaction once I received the photos back. I loved some photos and some I didn’t as much. Normal of course. It is one thing to see your body naked in front of a mirror. It is another to see it naked on camera, with your good angles and your not so good ones. And it is an empowering experience to love yourself in both those angles. The truth is, I didn’t like all the photos, but did I hate myself or my body? Absolutely not. It’s just another side of me and I accept both sides. The light and the dark, the lovable and the harder to love. True acceptance is love and love is freedom. And the fact remains that I feel free in my body and I love it. ALL OF IT.
Photography by Samantha Schaub
Goddess Love Her Body
I have accepted this body as it is. I have given it thanks for ALL that it allows me to experience on a daily basis. I delight in connecting with my body and being in partnership with my senses. I can see, I can walk, I can touch and feel, I can hear, I smell, I can kiss, I can hug, I can make love, I can swim, I can dance. I can live this life and I do all that because of this body.
I am grateful for this beautiful vessel.
Goddess loves her body, she delights in her body, she luxuriates in the senses that this vessel calls forth. She holds this carnal temple to be sacred.
This is where the wild feminine shows up. When she feels free and she can connect to this freedom by embracing her untamable nature.
She doesn’t need to fit it because she is perfect just as she is.
Imagine who you would be if you loved and reclaimed your body with this freedom, irrelevant of your size?