Thursday, March 6, 2014

On Self-love, Beauty, and Ideals

A recent post by fellow blogger and sister-in-law, Cori, got me thinking more.  I've already been riding on the self-love boat since discovering the Birth Without Fear Self-love project, this, and this project by the amazing Jade Beall, but I've never talked about it and my feelings about it in this space, So here we go.

Since having Dec, I've been hyper-conscious about how he sees me perceive myself.  I want him to learn how to appreciate all kinds of beauty, and love all kinds of beauty.  My attitude towards my own looks and how I beat myself up was not how I wanted him to appreciate women and their bodies.  If I ever have a daughter, I don't want her to learn that self loathing from me either.  I am God's creation and so blessed by all the gifts He has bestowed upon me; life, good health, an amazing body that has delivered a beautiful child, and an amazing gift of a singing voice.  I am not perfect, but I am blessed and God's creation and now it's my job to love that creation and pass on that tradition of self love to my children!

This, however, was not my mindset for much of my teenaged and adult life thus far.  I was always self-conscious of  how skinny I was (or not skinny), how big my nose was, how my smile was too big, how I looked too young, teeth too big, face too thin, my double chin (??? where did I get that from, btw?), whether my stomach was flat, my chest too small, my thighs and butt too big.  I became a workout junkie, not because I wanted to be healthy, but because I wanted to be skinny.  For a long time I was skinny- too skinny.  The biggest turn arounds in my mindset happened during grad school, while I was pregnant (body image), and when Declan was born (how I feel about my face).

This is not to say that I still don't have moments, of course, but that I am working on changing my own outlook so that I'm not teaching my children that thought process.

So what were the factors to changing my thought process?

In Grad school, I started having lots of health issues tied to stress.  Suddenly I realized that skinny didn't matter if you were sick all the time.  I started doing yoga more - a lot more -and included a home practice which changed my world.  In the process I found myself feeling stronger, healthier, and though I wasn't as skinny, I felt better about my body. I stopped worrying about weight or inches and started thinking about function, health, and strength.

A couple years later I got pregnant.  I thought I would be this perfect fit pregnant momma, but life (and my body) had other plans.  Pregnancy alone is rough on my metabolism and I was lucky to have enough energy at the end of the day to cook dinner, let alone get up early or workout before bed!  I took myself to prenatal yoga, which was about all I could handle, but also ended up being perfect for me.  Among other things, prenatal yoga taught me that yoga shouldn't be a competition of me against my body, but a melding of the two.  An acceptance of my body's abilities at the moment.  I grew to appreciate the day to day changes of my body and to respect it's limits.  During pregnancy I also changed my thoughts on  what beauty is.  It is so easy to start feeling huge, out of control, or just start resenting your body when you're pregnant, but I found the magic of the changes freeing and loved every moment of getting bigger and rounder.  I think I loved my body most when I was pregnant with Declan!

After Declan I discovered all of the projects I showed earlier.  I also developed my first distinct wrinkles (!!!) and started to fall back into that pattern of insulting myself.  It took me a year to start feeling 'normal' and to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight.  I was softer around the middle, I had wrinkles and stretch marks in places I had never had them before.  Sleeplessness gave me dark circles under my eyes, my hair fell out, then started growing back (and now, with this pregnancy, has gone thicker, wavier, and crazier).  Again I came to the realization that I was letting society's view of beauty dictate how I felt about myself.

I've been doing pretty good lately.  I generally feel really good about myself and almost never wear makeup  or do my hair (who has time?) and feel confident in how I look most of the time.  My exceptions are those days that I feel like I look really young and have a 'grown-up' job to do, the days I feel like my hair is OUTTA CONTROL, and the days when i'm busy thinking I'm too skinny, not fit enough, or ...


Not the point.  The point is that we are real women and that there is nothing more beautiful than a REAL woman and inner beauty is the really important part!

This all leads to me posting a self-love selfie on instagram (and facebook):

and I encourage you do the same!  This is a good morning, no makeup, not much sleep face and it's beautiful!

Some related things to look at:

- this video on selfies

-BWF Self Love Project 

-Jade Beall's A Beautiful Body Project

-Beauty Revealed Project

- Operation Beautiful

Do you self-love or self-hate?  Have you ever tried to change your mindset and what helps/motivates you to do it?


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