Say it with me, “My body is beautiful. My body is enough.”
I have been struggling with this body image thing again. Surprise, surprise. In recovery we call this a “relapse”. It’s hard to distinguish my relapses because it’s not a drink, a joint, a hit, etc. It’s a pattern of thinking. All it took was one thought and before I knew it I had jumped on the train of stinkin’ thinkin’. So I am writing as a way to re-center my thoughts, and you, lovely reader, are invited into those depths. (Lucky you…sort of…ok actually, beware!)
This is where it all started:
There is something so beautiful about yoga photos. The lines the human body can create, the balance, the strength, the flexibility. I love to look at yoga photos and be amazed by others. But it’s never just about success, it’s about their failures too. There is something about yoga that is so open to failing and imperfection. Failing isn’t failing in yoga- it’s discovery, it’s learning. I love that so many Instagram yogis post their falls, their mishaps, their insecurities, their imperfections. It reminds me to enjoy the journey This sounds like great thinking doesn’t it? I know, I was doing well there (ick there is my ego…). But here is where I get messed up…
I saw a picture on Instagram. I had just posted the same pose and… “mine doesn’t look like that”. BAM! That’s all it took. As I scrolled through Instagram, all I saw in the pictures were, “I don’t look like that.” I should have realized then what had happened, but I didn’t. This went on for weeks. And in those weeks I had reverted back to analyzing the crap out of myself in the mirror.
“Too much chub.”
“Uggg…where did this back fat come from?”
“At least you can wear halters, I have man shoulders…”
And to top it off, I do have really bad breath in the morning!
It wasn’t until my sponsor said “You are relapsing, look at the relapse chapter” that the scales fell from my eyes. (If you are interested, here is a helpful blog on the relapse lesson https://oneandonlyhigherpower.wordpress.com/lessons/lesson-20-relapse/)
What was I doing to myself? Why was I beating myself up? In the span of 4 weeks I felt like my body went from fab to FLAB. But recognition of my relapse didn’t make it go away. When I saw myself I kept returning to “you don’t look like her, your poses don’t like that, etc.” And it wasn’t just with yoga, but with our adoption book: “no one is going to choose you when your hair looks like that”
and “you’re too goofy, is it so hard to take a serious photo?”
Looking back, these phrases are just silly! I am goofy, my hair looks like that, and I am a ragamuffin- is that such a bad thing? No, it’s not. Will it keep me from being a mom? No, it will not! Will it deter some birthparents from choosing me and Dean, maybe, but that’s ok. God has our little fawn all planned out for us and all I have to do is follow Him.
So what about my yoga? A lot of times I think, “I could never do that pose, because I have fat rolls in the way.” Or “my expression of that pose doesn’t look right because my flabby arms make curvy lines instead of straight lines.” But the facts are these: this is my body, these are my poses, the expression is beautiful.
I thought that when I started yoga I would slim down as I progressed. I thought that you had to be slim to express back bends, because then you wouldn’t have a giant roll above your butt to get in the way. That’s false. Somehow I manage to bend over the roll. I am bigger than I ever was, and I am better at yoga than I ever was.
Then my thoughts moved to “why aren’t there more bodies like mine on Instagram?”, “why are all the yogis slim and trim?” That’s not true of course. Not all yogis look the same, and there is nothing wrong with being slim and trim. Yoga is a journey, and maybe a natural progression of yoga is finding health in all areas and thus a slim physique. Or maybe, the only Instagram yogis that post are the ones that are confident in their value and beauty and because they are confident in their value then I am confident in their value too and it’s just a coincidence that they are slim and trim. Or maybe there are tons of full figured yogis out there that I haven’t found yet. But regardless of why, the fact of the matter is: I want to see beauty in the poses of the full figured. I want to be mesmerized by the lines a curvy girl creates just as I am with the slim and trim. I see the beauty in the slim and trim, but I want to expand my thoughts of beauty to the full and curvy.
And it suddenly hit me, maybe others can see beauty in my poses. Maybe, I can be a representative of the full and curvy (or at least half full and curvy…does that make me an optimist?). Maybe, I can help others see that that roll of back fat doesn’t have to get in the way. That they don’t have to make excuses for their practice based on their body shape. That you don’t have to be slim and trim to start yoga, continue yoga, or progress in your practice. Maybe I can help expand the stereotype of slim and trim yogis to just yogis. Because yoga isn’t about feeding the ego and fitting into a mold. Yoga is about discovering who you are whether slim or curvy, tall or short, full figured or trim, long-limbed or compact, boy or girl, tatted or not, long hair or short hair, whatever!
But here is the kicker, if I don’t see my value and beauty just as I am, what type of message am I sending to the world and to my own brain? If I am ashamed of my figure (whatever size or shape) am I unknowingly spreading the message that people with a similar figure should be ashamed of themselves? I don’t want that! If I send a message I want it to be:
“You are beautiful! You are enough!”
In order for me to send that message, I have to truly believe that message. That’s what I am going to be working on. I’ll keep you updated.