I just wanted to say a big thank you to Jenny for asking me to write this blog. Finn Furious and I met in that space called virtual reality on a radio discussion [BBC Radio Nottingham – you can find the audio of the interview here on YouTube] about Body Confidence. And although we have never met in person, our stories and shared body confidence experiences brought us together on that day.
As I read through what Finn had to say about her own body journey I am reminded of my own. At the age of three I loved to dance! I bopped, hopped and pirouetted my way through my early years of life until one day I realized that in order to dance you had to be slim…skinny even! All of a sudden there was a condition placed upon my love of movement. A well-meaning aunt once whispered to me that I was too fat to dance. She looked disapprovingly at my rounded tummy and plump little legs, which were squeezed into my pink ballet tights. Frowning at me and quite unaware of what she was saying, she asked, “Don’t dancers have to be thin? You’ve got a pretty face, Astrid – it’s such a shame about your body!”
I loved my aunt and tried desperately to reconcile these ugly words with the woman I adored and looked up to. I said nothing. I smiled. I must have been around seven at the time and I remember this as if it were yesterday! I believed she must be right. Why on earth would she say such hurtful things if they were not the truth? And so I swallowed her opinions and beliefs along with as many biscuits as I could sneak from the kitchen.
What I didn’t know then was that my aunt (along with many other members of my family) had her own issues with weight and body confidence. (Body image issues are often learned behaviour and passed down through the family). She was always immaculately slim and elegant. At eight stone 2 for most of her life she kept her body in line with the restrictive prison of her thoughts, which allowed for no leeway. She only wore beige, shopped only on Fridays, bought food for the calorie content and not the pleasure it brought and was in bed by nine every night.
I loved my aunt – I wanted to BE my aunt! I thought she must have all of the answers. I believed she was right and that my body was wrong!
I am not blaming my aunt for her comments… I mention them here only to map out part of my own body story that was fed to me by others. So many other factors also shaped my body story: my fathers death, my mothers reclusiveness, the fear of being different, the times I grew up in, my family preoccupation with weight, the bullying at school and the dreams of wanting to dance more than anything in the world!
IS IT TRUE?
Undoing the “stories” of the past takes time and commitment. It takes willingness to lovingly and firmly stop feeding yourself the old body fables about you and embrace every inch of your glorious body, hug by hug – loving touch by loving touch.
Whilst we may have internalized beliefs about our selves and our bodies by our family, teachers, media and society, we get the final say if we will continue to act out that old body story. Every day brings us the opportunity to write a new page, a brand new paragraph in our body and life journey.
One of the most helpful things you can do in the rewriting of your own body story is to become aware of where you continually tell yourself the same old negative, unkind or self-limiting thoughts. Don’t struggle with them, don’t try and stop them. Instead, imagine your thoughts as rather lost, grumpy friends and welcome them to the table and sit them down in front of you. Ask them what they have to say and write down all of your most negative beliefs. Then gently and compassionately, ask yourself if what you have written is really true?
For instance, is it really true that you’re not good enough? Really? Who are you not good enough for? Are you good enough for you? Allow your answers to flow out from the depth of your heart.
Is it really true that you are too big? Really? Who are you too big for? This is YOUR size and shape! Right now your body is expressing itself exactly as it needs to be – as it IS!
Ask this question with every negative body belief you have ever had and then ask yourself “Who would you be without that negative or self-limiting thought? How would you FEEL without that thought and what would you allow yourself to do, to have, to experience, to feel and to be?
COME “HOME” TO YOU!
Allow yourself to be loved and nurtured by your OWN answers – find the truth about who you really are. The voice of the heart is always loving, accepting and nurturing. Anything else is simply a lie. Body Confidence is a FEELING! It is also a CHOICE! Make that choice in everything you read, eat, say, wear, think, believe and do!
Fall in love with YOU, one loving word at a time, take yourself out dancing, or go and watch the fabulous roller derby team in action and be awed by their skill, joy and love of their sport. Throw caution to the wind as you proclaim your hips are magnificent and tune in to the timeless wisdom of your belly.
Our bodies are where we LIVE – when you make your body the most beautiful, peaceful and happiest place to be – you are always safe, you are always loved and you are always“home!”