Learning to Love My Body

This month, The Mighty’s self-care challenge is all about gaining self-confidence. I encourage women everywhere to start a love affair with themselves. In the spirit of Lady Gaga and Beyonce, I believe we should all be proud of our bodies and have no doubt that we are “beautiful, intelligent and capable.” Love your body. Set it free.

My reflection is confrontational. She greets me daily with a myriad of flaws in a hall full of unforgiving mirrors. She stares blankly at me… constantly watching. Expectant. Waiting for me to morph into something alluring.

woman looking in the mirror

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer. She is my closest enemy; she is my dearest friend. My entire self-image balances precariously upon her opinion. Some days she smiles at my transformation. Her eyes light up, and she offers me a nod of approval before walking out of the room with her head held high. Most days she stares at me with her resting bitch face. Judging eyes. Judgy, judgy bitch face.

But lately… lately I am better suited for this battle. Her emotions aren’t mirroring back at me. I’m seeing myself with a clearer perspective – one of self-acceptance – and I challenge her. Every time she breaks me down I find something beautiful to reflect back at her.

woman looking in the mirror

I’m slowly reclaiming control of my self-image, slowly liberating myself from her discrimination. I’m on a quest to set my body free. I implore you to do the same.

You who do not love your body… set it free. Set. It. Free.

Unleash your body from the confines of your own mirrored distaste, from the scrutiny of your self-concept. Set. It. Free.

Look into the mirror with an open heart. Notice the person gazing back at you. Really notice. Move closer. Stare deep into her eyes and smile.

woman looking over her shoulder

Count the lines that spread from the corners of your eyes. Trace the lines that spread across your forehead. Now set them free. These lines add character to your face. They are delicate reminders of a life filled with emotion, a life well lived. Retrace them lovingly and set your negative thoughts free.

Forgive your brows and lashes for acting so unkempt, for being so damned needy. Raised brows, furrowed brows, eyes wide open. Lashes that sweep away tears, safeguard your dreams and let in the light. They have served your expression well a million times or more. Forgive them and set them free.

Turn your head, and see yourself in silhouette. Go easy on your misshapen nose, your too-small chin, the faint acne scars beneath your cheekbones that you attempt to hide beneath a veil of hair. You’ve never liked your profile. Still. Set it free. Let it be the reminder of your multi-faceted, beautifully-layered individuality. Treasure your profile as a memento of your family genes, of your ancestors who walked this Earth before you. Set it free.

woman's face

Glance down at your arms. Notice the freckles and the moles – small keepsakes of happy days spent soaking up the sun’s rays. Gloss over the sagging skin and recall the many, many times you have held friends and loved ones in your strong embrace. Set your strong, kind, empathetic, loving arms free. Set. Them. Free.

Your hands are wrinkled, your knuckles enlarged. Your rings no longer fit onto your ring finger. Still… that love exists within your heart. Each line is a reminder of the ways in which your hands have served you and others. Your beautiful hands never rest. Admire their character and set them free.

Your breasts wax and wane with the phases of your body. Over time they have relented to gravity’s embrace. No matter how you try to hold them captive, they are fiercely independent. Just let them go. Set. Them. Free.

Look down a little further. Accept how the terrain of your midriff has changed. You have evolved from being barren and flat into a landscape of rolling hills. The marks that stretch across your stomach will fade a little but the life that grew inside you will forever shine. You are a beautiful, curvaceous woman. Be proud. Set your curves free.

woman's underwear

Your legs are scarred and marked. Lines that criss-cross your thighs remind you of how quickly you grew as a young girl. The scars on your knees are emblems of an adventure-filled childhood, the spider-like veins fair trade for hours spent soaking in a hot, hot bath. Your legs have stood strong in the face of adversity. Set. Them. Free.

Your ankles swell at the end of a busy day. Your feet scream for a pedicure. You have so little time for rest, let alone self-care rituals. Consider this a blessing of a full life. Your footprints symbolize the remarkable impression you are leaving on this Earth and on the hearts of your loved ones. Put your feet up and set them free.

Yes, I implore you to approach the mirror with an open heart and accept the love reflecting back at you. Unleash your body from the confines of your own mirrored distaste, from the scrutiny of your self-concept. Love your body. Set. It. Free.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

This post originally appeared on La Legsie.

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