I recently saw an article whose headline offered tips for women to help them love their bodies. They proclaimed that it was “time to rebuild your love for your amazing body and what it could do,” and to “believe in your beauty no matter what your size or shape.”
Naturally, I’m open to any advice on how to be more self-confident in a society that worships youth and toned thighs, so I got all giddy and sat down to learn how to love myself– no matter what.
Half an hour later, it was obvious that after 58 years of beating myself up for not being taller, leggier, prettier, more perfect (and now, younger), those “18 EZ Steps to Body Love” weren’t as easy as the writer suggested…
1. “Stop avoiding your body. Try to spend more time naked. Learn to belly dance. Wear a bikini.” First of all, naked is not my best presentation. Push-up bras get the girls back up there. Spanx compress jiggly behinds into butt cheeks you could bounce a quarter from. Sleeves cover underarms that resemble flying squirrels whenever you lift your arms. A bikini?? Dear Lord, I may as well just start going braless and living in a t-shirt that says “I’m old, droopy, and flabby, and I don’t give a crap who knows it.”
2. “Stop checking your body for flaws.” I’m usually pretty good at ignoring things I don’t like. But some things you just need to know. And since checking for lumps and bumps on the backs of my thighs requires reaching down towards the floor and sticking my upside down head between my legs, and I’m not a Romanian gymnast, I simply hike my skirt up and yell for Hubs to come deliver the bad news. He still thinks I’m hot. Really, he does.
3. “Stop comparing yourself to others.” I don’t. Only to women who are thinner, younger, prettier, and better dressed.
4. “Stop dieting or restricting food intake.” I’ve been doing this one for 50 years. Give me a spoon and a jar of Nutella, and watch the blur. Hasn’t really worked out so far.
5. “Throw away your scales. Stop obsessing about the numbers.” Then how will I know if I’m fat?
6. “Lose the ‘Shoulds.’” I should work out every day (Not gonna happen in this lifetime). I should have taken better care of myself (A little late to worry about that now.) I should stop drinking wine (Have we met??)
7. “Don’t confuse having a bad day with being fat.” “The cat puked on the carpet. And I’m fat”.”Hubs just hired a new assistant named Trixie. And I’m fat.” “The dishwasher blew up and flooded the kitchen. And I’m fat.” I’m not confused. I’m fat.
8. “Turn off the TV.” But I love shows about rich, skinny, stunning women who repeatedly screw up their glamorous, entitled lives. If I can’t be richer, thinner, or more gorgeous than they are, at least I don’troll for a soul mate on national TV, wear nipple pasties so “guys will look at my face instead of my boobs and take me more seriously,” or get a DUI on my way home from my 7th $10,000/month stint at rehab. It’s just so much fun.
9. “Put down the magazines.” Where else can I find photos of fabulously beautiful women, to show to my hairdresser so she knows how to make me look? Yes, the last eight stylists have quit on me, but number 9 is looking good.
10. “Practice body acceptance. Replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations.” Instead of “I hate my back fat,” we should say, “I look radiant.” Tried that one in the bathroom that night. I was laughing so hard, I tripped over my scales and toppled out the door, landing in a Downward Dog position, butt in the air and face on the floor. I looked over in the wall mirror and said, “Yeah, I still got it.” Positive affirmation. Boom.
11. “Talk about it.” Welcome to my blog.
12. “List your achievements.” I don’t need to remind myself that I’m a good person, who loves her Hubs, her kids, and her Chihuahuas. I also play the piano and quilt like a rock star. What the hell does that have to do with a butt that does the Jello Jiggle when I’m standing still??
13. “Treat yourself to things that make you feel good.” What makes me feel good is wine, chocolate, and long naps. How do you think I got here in the first place?
14. “Wear comfortable, flattering clothes.” If I could find any, I would. Skinny jeans and stilettos are flattering. Yoga pants and flats are comfortable. And life’s not fair.
15. “Don’t criticize anyone else’s body either.” I stopped judging female body shapes and sizes decades ago. Ever since I realized I’ve been working on those last 10 pounds since 1974.
16. “Learn to accept compliments.” Seriously?? I love compliments. Bring them on. But they still won’t change the numbers on my scale at tomorrow morning’s weigh-in or the fact that I can’t get into last year’s jeans without a shoe horn.
17. “List the things you like about your appearance.” I couldn’t help but visualize the moment, after my unexpected demise, when Hubs finds a written list in my office that reads, “I have a pretty smile,” “I like my small feet” and “I have great clavicles.” I can hear him now, “That’s what you were writing all those times you were locked in your office??”
18. “Stop striving for perfection. It doesn’t exist.” I can’t help it. I’m a striver. The difference between good and good enough is always just one more step away.
Maybe confidence can come from knowing I’m trying.