Yesterday, October 19th, was Love Your Body Day, sponsored by the NOW (National Organization for Women) Foundation. What a novel concept – love your body. Love your skin, hair, eyes, fingers, shoulders, nose, toes, stomach, ears, knees, and even your elbows. (Yeah, you heard me. No matter how knobby they are, love those elbows!)
Until recently – until I came to college – I did not love my body. I liked it maybe fifty percent of the time, when there were no bags under my eyes and my hair cooperated and I wasn’t feeling fat. I loved my body on the very rare occasion that I dressed up to go out and actually thought I looked good (i.e. almost never). But now, I wake up every morning and smile when I look in the mirror. I am grateful for my ability to run from student center to dorm so I can catch my favorite TV show. I delight in taking the stairs to my fifth-floor room because it makes me feel strong. I am proud of my body, not just because of what it looks like but because of what it (and I) can do.
So how did such a transformation occur? When I came to college this August, I decided that it was my chance to recreate my life the way I wanted to be. It was my opportunity to be the best woman I can be. I started exercising regularly, which was difficult (because I’d never really stuck to an exercise regime before, even just taking a daily walk), but even after the first week, I started to feel better. I was more awake, stronger, and generally in a better mood. I felt healthy, which gave me pride in myself.
More importantly, though, I took a new look at everything that I can do, much of which I had taken for granted before. I can hula-hoop and hug friends and sing (albeit often badly) and walk and run and jump for joy. I can rejoice in life.
Loving your body should be natural. It should be something that happens without question, that grows as you grow from child to woman. But in today’s society, it is not so easy. We are constantly being told by advertisements and articles in beauty magazines and television shows and commercials that we aren’t good enough. They never say it outright, but every time you read an article called “10 Tricks for a Toned Tummy” or “Makeup to Cover Up (Your Flaws),” you’re reinforcing the idea that you aren’t quite pretty enough, aren’t skinny enough, aren’t good enough. But if only you ate a little less or put on the right shade of eye shadow or did 100,000 crunches every morning before breakfast, maybe you’d be beautiful.
Stop. Don’t listen to them. You are beautiful, right here and now. I’m not saying you can’t wear makeup because sometimes it’s fun to dress up. I’m not saying you can’t start exercising and eating better because you should try to be healthy – but don’t let weight loss be your focus. (This was one of the hardest things for me to realize.) But look at yourself and think of all you can do. And love yourself for that.
If you are a mother or a grandmother or an aunt (or a father, grandfather, or uncle) – that is, if you are involved in the life of a young girl – please don’t ever make her feel like she’s not pretty enough. Don’t tell her she has to wear makeup or put on certain clothes or weigh a certain amount to be beautiful. Remind her that she is beautiful just as she is.
Because we all are.
Peace and love,
NB: This post is part of the 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival.
Whenever I used to think of you,
I always remembered the picture you drew on my hand –
you know, the one of the astronaut playing
a ukelele – and how we played mermaids
in the ocean in June,
but now thoughts of you (or, rather,
of us) stray from our shenanigans
and turn instead to the dark days when
we fell into uniformity,
and nothing we did could distinguish us
from every other name listed alongside
us in the phone book.
I miss the days when mistakes were easy
but unique, when the sea’s rolling waves
were just from mermaids dancing, when
the song of a ukelele was all
we’d ever need.
Yours with song,
I was feeling a little apathetic today, and I wanted to post, but as soon as I logged on, I couldn’t think of a thing to write about. So I did a quick Google search for “blog topics,” and I found a list of 55 More Blog Posts I Hope You Write. One of them, #37, was “I Have the Craziest Uncle Ever.” Which made me laugh because, in fact, I do.
But instead I think I’ll post a poem I wrote with the help of CreativeWritingPrompts.com. It’s a wonderful site; there are over 300 writing suggestions, one of which I followed here to create this: (It’s not entirely original because the prompt gave me 3 phrases and instructed me to use them in a poem.)
I tie the ribbon in a foolish way,
smiling at the frivolous bows
and unnecessary curls upon the gift
that was never meant to be given.
My feet clip-clop out the doorway
in search of the solid ground my mind
knows to be a lie, and the delicious
fragility of this travesty brings a smile
to my face.
She ought to know, to realize
the implications of my lies, but
it is not my fault that she does not. And
so I leave the package (that may as well
be empty) on her cold doorstep,
then run off through the wind and rain
to escape to the single place
where we still laugh and wish.
A friend of a friend (thus somebody I don’t know) is going to college in Sheridan, Wyoming right now, and she is majoring in Scandinavian studies. Minoring in Icelandic studies. In Wyoming. How about WHY-oming?! How on earth is there enough interest in Scandinavia and Iceland in Sheridan, Wyoming to warrant the creation of a major (and minor) based solely on those? What the heck is up with that? You’d think such interest would at least be prominent in coastal states or something. But Wyoming??!?
So in my psychology class the other day, we had some time at the end and so my friend S – a girl – decided to write me a poem. Well, 2 others (R – a boy – and L – a girl) joined in, and it became quite the masterpiece. They were passing it back and forth, mostly between S and R, and R wrote “So bacon is really tasty, orange.” As of course there is nothing to rhyme with orange (except door-hinge), she wrote as the next line “I hate you, R.” And then they went on with the poem as though nothing had happened. I read it aloud when she handed it to me, and I honestly did not know I was going to laugh that hard.
I was shelving in the library today and found a book entitled Rape: A Love Story by Joyce Carol Oates. My first thought: WTF? My second: Is this what the world has come to? My third (after reading the inside flap): Oh. The love is not with the rapist. That would make sense… At least a little bit more. Maybe? But it is officially the strangest and most disturbing title I’ve ever heard. Think about it. What about it makes sense? Nothing.
I was having a discussion with this friend of mine, J, and our conversation went all over the place, but one of my favorite parts was when she brought up Affairs of the Pants. I haven’t a clue why this came up, but she said that “Affairs of the Pants” sounded like a better title for the story I was telling than “Affairs of the Heart.” We got to talking about Star Wars because apparently it’s hilariously funny if you take SW quotes using the word “Force” and replace it with “Pants.” Some examples:
Darth Vader: A tremor in the Pants. The last time I felt it was in the presence of my old master… Don’t underestimate the power of the Pants.
Han Solo: May the Pants be with you.
Obi-Wan: The Pants can have a strong influence on the weak-minded.
::giggles:: I definitely thought this was one of the funniest things I’ve heard in awhile…
I am home sick today.
And it is miserable.
My face is burning, and now I’m thinking I may have a fever. This would be tragic. I HAVE to get back to school tomorrow. If I have a fever today, then what do I do? I’ll get so behind…
This is terrible.
I have a buttload of homework to do today anyway – history questions, physics bookwork, physics lab IA, major works data sheet for Their Eyes Were Watching God, photos to take of shadows and reflections, French grammar pages, and psychology questions. Gakkkkk.
Plus I want to get some research done for NaNoWriMo — which is starting in 5 days!! Hooray!!
But I know nothing – and I mean nothing – about the mid-1800s.
Television is losing its appeal after only 20 minutes…
Homework never had appeal…
And I’m tired of reading Lightning.
My throat is KILLING ME!!
I HATE this cough!!!!!!
10:30 and I just ate breakfast.
Blehhfhldfkj .dgja dlkfm dl, j,….
Going to go do homework now.
Or perhaps procrastinate on the NaNo forums. Yeah. That sounds like fun. There’s always something interesting to do there.
Au revoir, my patient friends.
“I don’t want another pretty face; I don’t want just anyone to hold. I don’t want my love to go to waste; I want you and your beautiful soul.” I was never a big Jesse McCartney fan even though he was big among my friends when I was younger (4th grade-ish?). But I was listening to a mix CD in my friend’s car this morning on the way to school, and his song “Beautiful Soul” came on. Now, I had no idea this was Jesse McCartney, but I immediately fell in love with the song. So many pop songs discuss beauty or some other superficial reason for choosing a girl; I was thrilled to hear such a song that clearly focused on the girl’s inside. Maybe that’s because that’s the only beauty I’ve ever really believed in.
Think on that awhile.
There is nothing magical about January 1st as a time to start over, to begin our lives anew, to make a resolution that we will change. So purely in defiance of this irrational tradition, I am using September 20th as my start-over day. Today. I will start over today. I will make a change today, and I will make it last. Over the last few days, I have been reading a book entitled This Year I Will… that outlines the best way to actually achieve these resolutions and goals that often go down the drain before the 1st of February. One of the things it makes clear is exactly what I said at the beginning here – that there is no best time to start. You just have to throw yourself in despite the other distractions in your life. (This does not, of course, apply to starting exercising when you have the flu or a broken leg.)
Certain goals are easier to achieve than others, regardless of personal fitness/motivation. And I see this distinction between those goals that you can take distinct, clear steps to reach and those that are much more vague. Even some very clearly defined goals have formless steps to reach them. This is where I reach my first obstacle. There are many, many things that I would like to accomplish, things that this book could probably help me to get through if I wanted. But I am not going to read through this book with eating more healthily or exercising or stopping procrastination in mind. For although these are important goals that, if completed, will greatly improve my quality of life, I have something much more crucial in mind. And this is learning to believe in myself and to trust that I can be loved.
Such a goal does not easily lend itself to a 12 (or 6 or 53) step process. Where exactly does one begin? And how do I know when I get there? Surely there will be marked differences in my general lifestyle and conversation; this is what I am expecting. But the specific steps to get there elude me. I have spent several hours thinking on this and trying to figure out just what I can do in my day-to-day life to work towards this goal. Certainly, there are books on improving self-esteem and such, but that isn’t exactly what I’m looking for.
I suppose I didn’t state my goal quite how it sounds in my head. To clarify, I have trouble believing that I can be loved as more than a relative or friend. I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as low self-esteem; I have great confidence in much that I do, particularly my moral views and beliefs. And I trust in my academics and my friendships; these I can believe in. These I do not doubt. But it is romantic love that seems impossible although I clutch it close to myself even at this moment, and I don’t dare let go. It is nearly impossible for me to look in the mirror and believe that I am loved.
So I am still trying to figure out where I ought to begin. One good idea would be not to laugh off, deny, or shift to someone else every compliment I receive. But can I do that while actually believing it? I have spent the last several years learning to disguise my true feelings and to constantly be covered with a mask (see post “Hidden”). With all this engrained in me, how do I say “thank you” and believe it when he says I’m beautiful? How do I trust that his “I love you” is as true as mine? I know it all in my head, but my heart is still partially barricaded.
Despite this, I know that I will not give up on this. Other goals have failed, other resolutions have been thrown away after a month or a week or a day. This one will be harder than the others, but this one will last. I have no doubt. And I will try to take you through this journey with me if you are interested, and perhaps you as well can teach yourself to believe in something so out of reach.
Hoping for the courage to succeed,
this stream of consciousness is killing me i don’t know how to survive in everything i do no matter how true and passionate and real i lose a part of myself i’m losing me my heart mind soul truth all that’s left is shell body if i’m not careful i’ll lose him lose love too then there will be nothing holding up the case that used to hold me so empty empty empty nothingness is my core and i feed off it and it spreads through me consuming everything all i have want need ever had might someday be gone
use what you know photograph it examine it tear it to pieces so you know what’s inside of it all i know is words and those the eye cannot capture cannot see i don’t see can’t see won’t see you’re not there even though you swore promised to be foreveralways here with me i am alone a lone lone lonely loneliness lifeless hopeless nothing
my heart escaped my chest when it still mattered before i fell apart it could sense what was coming like birds before a hurricane thunderstorm tornado disaster my mind is my soul is i am disaster in its purest form mundanity destroys me and i try try try so hard but sometimes i lose everything i worked for and more like the turtle who climbs eight feet each day and slides back six each night in those elementary school math problems except backwards because i fall farther than i climbed at the beginning
sometimes it’s even backwards again when i build myself up at night then the day comes the sun rises the stars fade and the light burns holes through my paperthin cover and what was inside splits and divides and turns to little threads of almost-me that wear away like an old map exposed to sunlight for the first time in a hundred years and i disintegrate and i am