The marriage counselor broke the tension in the air by sharing a personal story of one of the most confident women he had ever known. “She was Hawaiian, with gorgeous skin,” he smiled. “She exuded sexual confidence. And she was about 400 pounds.” The conversation was in effort to address my lack of sexual drive in the relationship; and the men in the room where speculating it had to do with my body image issues.
As the counselor continued on about his favorite 400 pound woman, I replied that I understood the concept of self-acceptance and that women, at any size, shape or form, could still love and respect themselves, celebrate themselves even. My girlfriends and I had often talked about “owning it” regardless of our lists of body image gripes. We agreed that, in the now, we would pull ourselves together and “get out there and live.”
That confidence can become some distant romantic fantasy though, as media feeds our eyes “flawless” human images, and we begin to feel “less.” Less than anything and everything. And although most of us have watched the videos exposing the extensivity of photo altering which occurs to already gorgeous people, we can be hard on ourselves as we inspect our reflection in the mirror and see all the ways it doesn’t align with what is etched in our minds as perfect or even good enough.
And there isn’t a time like a new season to make us take a good, hard look at our reflection. “Losing weight” and “getting fit” leads the list of constant resolutions, across genders. And it probably should top the list as obesity rates—and the diseases that follow—hit all time highs. Anytime you feel motivated to care for yourself and focus on self-improvement goals is a good time. But there can be a cruel side to it all; and the most damaging cruelty comes from our own self-dialogue.
We’ve heard a little self-criticism can be a good thing, serving as a reality check that helps us become better people. But we must take note that saying, “I’m a fat cow” or “I’m such an idiot for letting it get this bad” just isn’t acceptable, it’s cruel and it hurts. We can be kind to ourselves, even amidst feelings of disappointment, and we can make changes and choices that continue us on the journey of becoming all we know we can be … inside and out.