One of the most painful messages women receive (and they receive this message a lot) is that they have to be some shape, size, or weight other than they are to deserve to feel luscious, peaceful, and beautiful in their bodies and to be worthy of love.
This message is pervasive in our culture, and it is also often wildly contradictory. For example, depending on the person, the magazine, or the media source one is paying attention to, women are told that they must be extremely thin to be worthy of love, or they must be extremely voluptuous and curvaceous to be worthy of love, or they must be extremely muscular and athletic to be worthy of love.
These messages are everywhere, and the result is that many (if not most) women spend a large part of their life feeling alienated from their body and believing they must be bigger, smaller, or somehow other than themselves to be worthy of love and admiration. Many women feel like they do not have the right to feel delicious, peaceful, and beautiful in their bodies until they meet some arbitrary, external standard that someone else has set for them. Most of the time, this arbitrary, external standard is impossible for the majority of women to achieve.
The result of this is that women feel plagued by anxiety about their bodies. They hate their bodies. They think about their supposed bodily imperfections all the time. They worry constantly about food and exercise, believing that they must be stringent about both of these to whip their body into shape and be worthy of love. They worry constantly that other people are judging their appearance. They feel like they don’t have the right to wear certain clothes they love or to engage in certain activities they long to try out because they worry they are the wrong size or shape or whatever.
These societal messages are deeply oppressive and dehumanizing to women, and they must stop. I think we are getting better about these things, but we still have a long way to go. I have taught middle, high school, and college students my whole life, and I see the way these issues plague young women. I am also only too well aware of the stress these issues have caused me and my female friends in the past and the way I continue to see them plague women around me.
To all the Girls and Women in the world, here are a few things to think about today if you feel gross about yourself and your body and feel like you are undeserving of love:
1. You are one-of-a-kind and beautifully unique, and you do not need to be anything other than who you are. The world is beautiful because of its diversity. For example, things like diversity in landscapes, diversity in food, and diversity in art forms and expressions bring beauty and wonder to our lives. You are a part of this diversity. You have a one of a kind body, mind, and spirit. When you love and accept yourself, you create the ideal space to allow your unique beauty to flourish. You bring more beauty to the world.
2. You deserve to feel luscious, peaceful, and beautiful in your body right now. Our natural state is to regularly feel joyful and at home in our bodies. Our feelings of hate towards (and alienation from) our bodies is a result of living in a society that sends us toxic messages about our bodies on a regular basis. You have the right to stand up to these messages and ignore them. You have the right to trust yourself and find your own unique expression of beauty. As you do this, you will feel luscious, peaceful, and beautiful in your body, and that is your birthright.
3. When people body-shame you, that is because of their darkness. It is not because of you. True love supports kindly and compassionately so that people can become who they are and bring their unique diversity into the world. When people imply or explicitly tell you that you have to lose weight or gain weight for them to love you or be pleased with you, they are not expressing true love. These people have control issues and need to dominate other people to feel good. You have the right to tell these people “no” and to walk away from them. Trust yourself and your body.
4. You are Never Required to Look Perfect. We all have good and bad days. Sometimes we feel really good in our bodies, and sometimes we feel like things are off. Sometimes we feel a little or a lot gross. This is completely normal, just as it is normal to have happier and sadder moods. Your job is never to look perfect. Your job is to be you and live your life lovingly. The more you do this, the more you gain wisdom, peace, and contentment. This allows you to love yourself on both your good and bad days.
5. Your Looks and Your Body are Primarily for You, Not Others. Your body is your beautiful vessel that allows you to navigate life, to have adventures, to learn important lessons, and to express your unique creativity. So while it is always wonderful when other people find us beautiful, the main purpose of our body is not to please other people with our appearance. It is to be our companion through life. Your body longs to be kind to you. Be kind to it.
6. Beauty and Health are Your Natural State. Beauty and health do not come from being a particular size or weight. They come from loving yourself and others and adopting an adventurous spirit towards the world. They come from eating food that nourishes you and moving your body in a way that feels joyful and good. You don’t have to make a rigid “To-Do” list to accomplish these things. You just need to be open and willing to show love to yourself and your body, and to keep heading in that general direction. Everything that needs to happen will happen when it is the right time.
7. Don’t worry if Someone Isn’t Into Your Particular Kind of Beauty: Some people will really appreciate your unique beauty, and other people won’t get it. That’s okay. Just like not everyone likes the same movies or the same wines or the same music or the same flowers, not everyone appreciates the same kind of beauty. There are so many people out their who will appreciate the unique kind of beauty you have, and the more you accept your unique beauty and love yourself unconditionally, the more these people will see you and celebrate you, too.
Darling, you never have to be a different person than who you are. Whether you are very slender and have thigh gap or very voluptuous and have groovy thigh glam (or are somewhere in between), you deserve to feel delicious, peaceful, and beautiful in your body right now. You are totally deserving of love.