Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Loving the Body You're In...

To love yourself as you are is a miracle, and to seek yourself is to have found yourself, for now. And now is all we have and love is who we are.-Anne Lamott

Most of us struggle, to a greater or lesser extent, with body image. Body image isn’t really about what you look like, but your own perceptions and emotions. It may be weight, build, hair, or in what must be the most difficult of situations, a mismatch between mind and body in terms of gender.
Body image issues are, for many of us, at the root of obesity, eating disorders and even depression and anxiety. Changing your own perception of your body is not easy, whether you simply aren’t happy about your shape or are battling much more serious issues.
You may find that you feel driven to make physical changes to improve and change your own perception of your body, from exercise and undergarments to surgery. I don’t think a better body image is going to fix gender issues, or that it should. I do think that improving your body image will help you to feel better, enjoy life more, and appreciate what your body is, even if it’s not what you would like it to be.

There’s no quick-fix solution for body image issues, whether they’re fairly minor or much more severe. There are things you can do to improve your own body image and self-perception, from simple visualizations to lifestyle changes. Let’s start with a simple first step: stop the negative self-talk in front of a mirror. You’re no longer allowed to be mean to yourself about your body. Regardless of whether you like it or not, it’s the only one you’ve got and you’re going to be living in it until you’re not anymore. No more nastiness about your belly, the lack of curve in your waist or your receding hairline. That doesn’t mean you can’t take steps, where possible, to change these, but your body does not define you. If it helps you to write positive things on the bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker or your favorite lipstick, do it. If positive affirmations make you gag, that’s okay too. Just stop the negative conversations with yourself in front of the mirror.

Fake it till you make it. Okay, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but there’s a point to it. Pretending you feel better about yourself will, surprisingly, sometimes help you feel better about yourself. Smile. Put on your favorite heels and do your makeup. Ditch the old sweats for cute around-the-house loungewear. Even if you don’t feel like doing it, you’ll likely feel better once you’ve done it. If your lifestyle doesn’t offer you the opportunity to dress up and feel like yourself, look at ways to make time for yourself to dress privately or publicly. Decide whether you need to discuss gender or sexuality issues in therapy to find peace with whatever solution you choose, with regards to dressing up, hormones or even surgery. A skilled therapist can help you to work out what you need to be happy, whether that is choosing to remain in the closet, peek out one toe, or step all the way out.

I’ve given you the slapdash band-aid solutions. The real one takes a bit more effort. The best way to improve how you feel about yourself is to actually take care of yourself, as if you matter. While you may spend your time focusing on your family, your spouse, your job, and other responsibilities, like many of us, you probably overlook yourself. Some of us even neglect the most basic of self-care. Eat real food that makes your body feel good. Move your body in ways you enjoy, whether that’s a trip to the gym, a yoga class, a hike or dancing. Go to the doctor occasionally. If you’re not feeling comfortable with your current physician, call the local GLBTQ center and ask for a recommendation. Treat any ongoing medical or mental health conditions. Caring for your body will help you to appreciate it, even if it is not as you wish it would be. Do things that make your body feel good, whether it’s making time for yoga, taking long showers, napping or going for a massage. Indulging in sensual pleasures will almost always help you to feel better about your body.

Think about the things that bring you joy, even in simple ways. Integrate those into your life, taking special care to choose creative, giving and nurturing activities. Consider what you can give up that drags you down. Explore the things you’ve always wanted to do and see if you can make those things happen. These steps may not directly impact your body image, but they will impact your happiness. When you feel happier with your life, you may find that you can look at your body differently. It becomes only one part of a full and fulfilling life, rather than the center of an unhappy one.


"nancy" said...

Thank you for this post. This is a struggle for me. Each day when I shower, look in the mirror, get dressed, as well as when I look at women I encounter day-to-day, I wish that my body was more feminine and I do not like the obvious male-ness of my body. One suggestion for Suddenly Fem: Could you have some models that aren't so slim, some that have larger "male" builds. I often look at the clothing on your site, the blouses, the skirts, the dresses, and think that'd they'd "never look like that on me." I'm "big," over 6 feet and over 200 lbs, but I want to look feminine. Thank you, Nancy

Suddenly fem said...

Suddenly Fem does show many ideal models, however, Mercedes our newest TG girl. she is 5'10 and 170 - about a size 12 - so she is not overly thin. In time we may feature larger size models if we find a girl who is reliable, attractive and experienced at modeling

Anonymous said...

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