Continuing my “Positive” posts, today I’d like to focus today on our bodies.
I can remember being in middle school and other kids making fun of me for the size of my feet. At around age ten, my feet were the same size as my age. Size ten at age ten, size eleven by age eleven… all the way up to age thirteen. It was my first experience with body shaming. There was no denying, I had big feet. I was awkward, nerdy and I was going through a very difficult time in my life with my parents divorcing and a few close family members dying.
For many years I felt like I had a skinny, wimpy look and even after I started to work out in my late twenties, I continued to feel dismayed when I looked in the mirror. And then, one day – I didn’t feel dismayed. Several things dawned on me all at once about fifteen years back:
- This is my body, the only one I have. Why have I spent so many years being ashamed of it? When I look in the mirror, why do I choose to look at the bad points, instead of the good?
- What right does anyone have to criticize the way my body is shaped
I cannot change the body I was born into, any more than anyone can change the body they were born into. Sure, we can have plastic surgery or dye our hair. But that is not really us. It is not what your DNA was programmed to create, it’s a mask, a façade that one chooses to pull over themselves because a particular element doesn’t look right to them.
It all boils down to society’s constant need to find balance, symmetry, and beauty. It is in our nature to look for beauty in others (and often do not see it) because we often cannot find beauty in ourselves.
What do I mean by balance and symmetry? We are programmed (from birth) to look for symmetry. If you look at a face and one side does not look even with the other side, it feels off, like something needs to be corrected. Symmetry and beauty are so interlinked, we don’t even realize we are looking for it when we look for something we consider beautiful.
Balance in society simply means balance as a whole. If someone feels bad about the way they look or their appearance, they will most likely try to balance themselves by looking for flaws in others. The same applies on a much larger scale. The beauty industry rarely shows you photos or videos (male or female) of people that are overweight or have acne or have a misbalanced body in one way or another. They work hard to make sure that only the perfectly balanced are portrayed, but real life is anything but perfectly balanced. We cannot relate to that perfect model in the Victoria’s Secret ad or the dark and mysterious man with large arms and chest in the GQ magazine, but we want to be like them. We want to have that physique, that look. When we look in the mirror, we look for what we would want to change in ourselves to look like that. The reality is that model that you see in the magazine or online looks way different without their makeup or touchups and in another twenty years, they will not look like that. I am not body shaming the model in the magazine, I can guarantee you that they get body shamed all the time (believe me, I know what that industry is like). What I am trying to point out is that they are as human as you and I. They are just wearing their own mask for you.
Do not get me wrong, I am not saying that we should not try to take the best care of our bodies we can. As I said earlier, it is the only body we get, so it is critical that we take care of it. What I am saying is, internal image and external appearance are almost always two different things.
From a beauty perspective, it does not matter if you are skinny or fat, old or young, unsymmetrical or misproportioned. You are you, and that is the single greatest thing you have to offer this world. From a physical perspective, I encourage you to work out, even if it is only going for a walk each day. Your body (regardless of its size or shape) is the greatest instrument you have and at the end of the day. It is the only thing you have to live with forever until the day you die so take care of it as best you can. But never equate your physical self with your beautiful self, because you already are beautiful, you just need to see it.
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