Chances are, if you’re a woman between the ages of 11 and, oh, say…105, the words “I need to lose weight” have probably come out of your mouth at some point. For long as there have been clothing sizes, women have been trying to manipulate their bodies to shimmy their backsides into the smallest one possible. Multi-million dollar empires have been built on the notion that our worth is inversely proportional to the number on the scale.
I get it. I’m right there with you, analyzing every inch of myself in the mirror, squeezing the “excess” and envisioning a body where it doesn’t exist- the body; the one worth swearing off carbs for or the one we think about when we’re pushing through that final mile on the treadmill. The girls with that body are always happy. Their carefree smiles grace the covers of magazines and their long, lean legs carry them effortlessly down the runway or across the big screen. If only we could achieve that body, the rest would just be details. With each pound we shed, so, too, might our anxieties and disquietudes slip away.
In a society that’s constantly pushing the limits of size- with our homes, our vehicles, our morning coffee- women are encouraged to become the smallest version of themselves, to take up as little space as possible in the world. I’m not advocating for an unhealthy, eat-what-you-want lifestyle, rather, cautioning against the poisonous praise we offer those whose lives are consumed by the idea that what you are is more important than who you are.
Our bodies are these amazing machines designed for so much more than to just be looked at. Too many women have taken to wearing their size around like a badge of shame they feel they need to make excuses for. What if, instead of chastising and resenting our bodies, we tried loving them? What if we broke up with all our food neuroses and focused more on actually nourishing ourselves? What if we let the sun shine on all the parts of of us we’re ashamed of- every lump and bump and dimple?
Tomorrow is Monday and maybe, like so many others, it’s the day you promised yourself you’d finally start that diet. Girl, I’ve been there. But by Wednesday I’d be feeling guilty about the cookie I had after lunch and flipping through albums of my 17-year-old self in a cheerleading uniform. Too much of my life has been wasted on this obsession with the physical self- time I could have spent reading or dancing or building my career or helping others or discovering all the incredible things this body of mine is capable of.
Self-love is a marathon and I can’t think of a better time to get started.