I’m going to go right into this one, because there’s no dancing around what I have to say…
I love my legs.
Check it out.
They’re bruised. That’s from walking into things–coordinated isn’t the first word you’d use to describe me. Check out those tan lines. They’re from riding my bike all spring. That scrape on my calf came from my trail run today. Those bumps on my thighs are called heat rash and for those of you whose thighs don’t touch, the rest of us get them when we run in shorts. You can’t see it, but the backs of these babies are covered with cellulite and a few stretch marks. I also have a piece of graphite in my right calf that’s been there since I was 7. It gives me character, makes me special, and used to make me really self conscious. Ditto for my ankles, which I always thought were “cankles”. At some point, I realized I have “big legs” from being athletic, not from being fat. I realized my thighs are kind of huge, but there’s no “thunder” to worry about–just lots of strength to bike up hills or to kick you in the face if you try to tell me that my body’s not perfect.
Okay, okay, I’m being a bit dramatic here, but after my run today, I just had a moment of pure gratitude. Maybe because it was a sunny day, the trails were gorgeous, and my body just felt all around good.
Maybe because I’m sick of not liking my body and all that stuff I kept telling myself during recovery about faking it til you make it is coming together. I remember a while back reading that we can change our behaviour, we can consciously change our thoughts, etc. but that it will often take time for body image to catch up with things. I also have learned so much about what society wants to tell us about our bodies–that there’s something wrong with them, etc. And I’ve come to appreciate what they’re capable of! And I recognize these things that are really not serving me:
- That cover of Oxygen selling the best butt ever–tight glutes, lean legs, whatever it is that they think you want and that will sell their magazine and the products advertising in it.
- The voice in my head that says that I’ll be happier if my thighs don’t touch (FYI I’ve been there, and I was miserable.)
- That pair of pants that just does NOT fit my muscular thighs. – It’s not my fault I have bigger quads than most girls. It is my fault that I feel bad about this–and I intend to stop right now.
All of this has been a process. And it has taken a long time. But it’s happening!
So my tips to you, if you wanna love your legs/butt/abs/face/ears/toes/whatever you dislike include:
- fake it til you make it
- hang out with people who are willing to admit that there are more important things in life than how they look or what size they wear
- take care of yourself as if you already had the body of your dreams: how would you exercise/eat/carry yourself?
- buy clothes that fit, feel good, and are flattering, and get rid of the ones that you keep around that don’t make you feel like the superstar you are
- watch what magazines and books you buy, and remember that they’re all about selling things
- reflect on what your body can do for you – walk you to school, carry you up a hill, run, bike, swim, jump, play with your dog, flirt with boys, dance the night away, do a headstand in yoga, play the cello — your body is just a tool for you to experience this world
As an aside, something my therapist once said to me bears repeating. Think of your body as a vehicle. Think about your car. Think about the things you do to to keep your car running nicely. Then think about how you treat your body. You should care about them both. Put fuel in them, get them checked out regularly, fix things that don’t work, and invest time and energy in maintenance. You should keep them clean. You should take pride in them. You wouldn’t abuse your car–why do you abuse your body (overexercise, under eat, tell yourself you’re not good enough, etc.).
I know this is a bit random, but I had to share. If I–the girl who seriously hated her legs so much that I would always wear shorts even in the water at the beach and hardly wore dresses or skirts or shorts–can find love for her legs, you can too! And you should. This article by Jenni Schaefer about how she loves her body (and how you should too) was just too timely today. Please read it, and join me in saying: I love my body! And that goes along with this one: I love my life!
Should it take guts to say you love your body? NO! I think the fact that it’s a rarity in our society is a sad sad reflection of things. I think that the idea that saying that you love your body would be perceived as out of the ordinary is backwards. Wouldn’t things be awesome if we all loved ourselves and thought we were beautiful? The more I realize this, the more appreciation I have for having had my eating disorder–this lesson is one that I needed to learn and need to share with other people.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go put on my shortest shorts and head to yoga. No harm in showing off these legs, just a little!
Do you love your body? Could you try?