Do you ever wonder if feeling bad about our bodies is a placeholder for all the ways we feel bad about life in general? Maybe you hate your job or had a terrible father or shrink from opportunities at work. It’s much easier to just say, “I hate my thighs,” than it is to dig into what’s really keeping your self-esteem in first gear. But there’s a silver lining to this predicament. What if tonight we threw our self-loathing to the floor along with our cardigan? If we’re using our bodies as shorthand for our life as a whole, then maybe they’re also the quickest way to feel pretty bad ass tonight. It’s worth a try, don’t you think?
Luxuriate some kind attention on your body.
Here’s a word we don’t use enough in modern life: toilette. It brings to mind an old-fashioned daily ablution with potions, fragrance, and creams. Not a mad dash five-minute teeth-brushing and hair-combing, but a slow, daily ritual that is about attention and care. And it doesn’t have to be time-consuming. It could be as simple as keeping massage oil on your bedside table that you rub into your tight shoulders at night, a lotion you gently rub onto your feet, or an aromatherapy treat that you dab onto your earlobes and temples for sweet dreams.
Lose yourself in physical fun.
One way to feel great about your body is to let it do what it was meant to do. Whether you dance around the living room to Aretha Franklin, play a game of tennis, or hop into a cool mountain lake, let your body move in a way that is pure pleasure. Here’s why: when you’re focused on an activity, it’s really hard to let your thoughts dwell on anything, the bills or your body. It gets you out of that constant stream of self-talk (which is very often self-criticism). But more importantly, it feels good to move freely, to be reminded of what you’re body can do. It’s not meant to be purely ornamental, after all, an object just to be looked upon, sized up, admired or judged. It was meant to move.
Shift your focus to your favorites.
When you stand in front of the mirror, your eyes go straight to that soft rise below your belly button, your thighs, the way your breasts hang, your [insert personal bugaboo here]. Just as an experiment, how about shifting your focus to an area you like, like your giant smile, gorgeous hair, strong calves, proud shoulders? You make a point of looking on the bright side when you’re stuck in a long line at the post office or run up against a challenge at work––why aren’t you applying the same look-on-the-bright-side optimism to your body?
Turn your bedroom into a boudoir, your bathroom into a ladies lounge.
You think Helen of Troy would have felt gorgeous if she looked at herself in the mirror, groggy-eyed, under the fluorescent light in her bathroom every morning? Make your home a lair that supports your beauty. That means softening the light to make you glow, and wrapping yourself in fabrics that make you feel sumptuous. We’re not talking Blanche DuBois delusions, but we are talking about making your home a place that supports feeling good, naked or otherwise.
Use your imagination.
What would it feel like to feel good about your body? Not to love it, maybe (that might be beyond what you can imagine), but just to feel pretty darn good about it. How would you stand? How would you dress? How would you behave? Channel that woman for a whole day. When you feel yourself crossing your arms across your belly or trying to disappear when you walk down the street, stop yourself. Hold your head high, stand up straight, and imagine that you’re inhabiting the form of a woman who feels really good about her body. All that pretending might just rub off for real.
What do you do to feel good naked? What would be your advice to a woman who just can’t stop hating on her bod?
The Editor’s Review:
I dunno. There should come a time in every woman’s (or man’s) life where self-loathing goes out of style. I’d say usually around 30. If that doesn’t happen for you naturally, then you should probably get some help to make that happen for you. I think it happens naturally for most people though. Personally, I just got tired of beating myself up over things I know I have no control over at this point in my life like the general shape of my body. I do what I can to improve what I’ve got, but I no longer sit around wishing I had what I just don’t have. Fruitless. And a waste of time. If you’re fat, you can exercise. But if your thighs aren’t as slim as you’d like, well there isn’t much you can do but to accept that fact of your life. It helps of course if you have someone who loves your body the way it is too, but honestly you have to really just love your own body before you’ll even allow anyone else to appreciate it.