Body image is such an interesting subject right? It is a topic that cannot necessarily be exhausted because there is always a need to be reminded of the importance of positive body image.
In the time we live in, positive reinforcement on what is actually valuable and important and worth the fuss is as necessary a daily practice as eating, sleeping, working and living in my opinion. It is so important because it exists in every one of those other areas.
Over the weekend, a few things happened that drove this point home for me. This concept of body image and how you can create two sides to the same story is intriguing. The way you view yourself can be empowering and beautiful or quickly become ugly and twisted if you look at the same picture using a different lens.
On Saturday, I joined hundreds of Chicagoans, suburbanites, tourists, lolla-goers and whomever else was in the crowd for a summer workout in Millennium Park.
I always go to the front so I can see what is going on and not have to rely on the people in front of me to know what the instructor might be doing. I typically break a sweat for 3 hours of yoga, pilates and Zumba #backtoback. For Zumba there was a professional guest photographer snapping up shots of the dynamic, gorgeous, fit dance teacher we had. Well seeing as I was in the front, I was in more shots than I imagined.
Afterwards the photographer came up to show me a few. “Well that one is great but that one…could be deleted. I look ridiculous,” I told him on a few. I gave him my email so he could send me them all to view up close. I was unfairly critical of myself like I often am in photographs then I was like, wait. My goal wasn’t to look great in a photoshoot. My goal was to work my butt off while working out and I did that. Some shots I may look ridiculous but I am proud of the way I look because I was out there working hard.
Saturday was gorgeous but also quite hot so after I worked out, I decided to head straight to the beach. If you want to give yourself a lesson on body image go to a beach. I mean honestly. I love to people-watch anyway. There were thin, big, curvy, old, young people everywhere with all different body types. I love the confidence of people to just be who they are. It can be tough to not compare myself but I remind myself how much better it is for me to love myself as I am, work on whatever I can instead of comparing myself to others. Of course once you get out of your own head, things are back in perspective. I enjoyed myself and stayed at the beach over 5 hours.
Recently UFC Champ, Ronda Rousey made some pretty intense statements about body image for body shamers going after her. I am all for women taking pride in their body back. My body is under my command and no one else’s so no use allowing someone else to dictate when it’s right, perfect, beautiful. It is best to focus energy on getting your mind right.
While on my trip to London in June, I became familiar with such a handy phrase. When that voice saying of doubt, over-analyzing, stress, negativity, self-criticism creeps in about anything. For example a voice inside that my body isn’t alright. It’s too much of this and not enough of that, that voice has to be cut off. Say, “You don’t serve me.” Refocus and keep it moving.
There is nothing wrong with beauty, feeling beautiful, being beautiful and being told you are. As long as it is not everything you live for. It has always been more important to be a genuine, real and fun person who is beautiful because you believe you are and you act accordingly (read humbly).
Another example of taking beauty to another level: I was running late for a show over the weekend so I had to hop in a cab. Towards the end of my ride, the driver says, ‘You’re not like Chicago girls. Pretty girls aren’t usually nice.’ It reminded me of a few years ago I took a trip to Miami and got the same comparison to Miami girls. That is really too bad. Of course, the blanket comparison is not totally accurate but I wish it did not even have to be a statement.
If throughout my life the best thing someone can say about me is I’m beautiful in the asthetic sense only, i think I’m missing the mark. Beautiful is a fantastic attribute but we can all stand to strive for more.
In Chicago, at the corner of Ashand and Foster, there are these huge ‘You are Beautiful’ signs. I am sure on a tough day those reminders mean the world to someone who just is not feeling it.
In the meantime, I am going to keep working on self-awareness, self-love, self-acceptance because one can never have too much of it. In aha moments like this weekend, I believe I’m winning.
Remind yourself of your greatness by reinforcing your positive body image. Be beautiful/handsome AND make it hold more weight than physical appearance.