How much do we really value our bodies? We may say we don’t, but when taking a closer look at our actions we may find differently. We may even claim we “hate” our bodies, yet we still obsess over them. We spend countless hours of our lives thinking about how our butt looks, checking our hair in the mirror, running our hands over our stomach, or trying to find the best tool out there to help us look good.
Taking care of ourselves and wanting to present ourselves in a suitable manner does not act as the root of the problem. Placing more emphasis on our looks over our character opens up many avenues for self-doubt and lack of caring for our inner selves. In life, we should not have idols. I use the word “idol” to describe something we focus on more than necessary and that inhibits us from experiencing the things in life meant to fulfill us.
Our bodies become idols when we can’t enjoy a night out with friends because we feel too concerned with the fit of our jeans. Our bodies serve as idols when we spend time in the gym to look better instead of feel healthier. Our bodies act as idols when we can’t comfortably allow a loved one to touch us without negative thoughts playing in our minds. Our bodies turn into idols when we have difficulty focusing on our work, surroundings, conversations, etc because we wonder if we’ll ever lose that last 5 pounds or look as good as (insert celebrity persona here). Our bodies are idols whenever we allow them to become the defining factor of our lives, instead of our relationships, passions, hobbies, and values.
We lose the chance to enjoy life when we refuse to look past our bodies. I loved this quote that sparked discussion on my favorite radio show awhile ago – “Don’t look for yourself in the mirror. Look at yourself”. Your body does not determine you. It’s simply what you look like. What matters is what’s on the inside. So when you look in the mirror, or think about your physical appearance, don’t dwell on it. Simply look at it and move on (without forgetting the gifts of the body though). When looking for yourself and your worth…look to the more defining qualities you possess. Your intrinsic beauty, what others see in you, what you give to the world, and more. Don’t let your body play the leading part.. It’s simply the costume for the star of the show. The real YOU!
What ways have you put too much emphasis on your body? How can you change that?
I have long felt unworthy because I have been overweight. I let my own negative feelings about my weight and my body undermine my confidence in all aspects of my life. I feel ashamed of myself and judged by others. A long time ago I really suffered a crisis of confidence at work – solely because I felt unattractive, out of place and unworthy. My boss at the time commented on my lack of confidence and when I thought about it I realised that how I was feeling about my body was seriously impacting on how I acted. At the time I was working in a place in which everyone was very suit-y. I’d just come back from almost 3 years of working in developing countries and didn’t have the presence of mind to actually ‘be myself’. Instead I went out and attempted to buy some suits (SO not me) so I could fit in with everyone else. But sadly I couldn’t buy cute little designer outfits. I’d been volunteering overseas so wasn’t flushed with funds. AND I didn’t fit into the designer suits my colleagues wore, instead feeling embarrassed in loose-fitting linen shirts hanging out over my large body and covering my stomach and thighs.
Fortunately my overall self-confidence is no longer so directly linked to how I feel about my looks and my body. It’s true – because of my size and my weight I can’t wear what I’d like to wear, but I TRY not to buy daggy loose clothes because that’s all that fits me. I TRY to buy clothes that show my personality and use jewellery to help tell the story.
But over the years, I have indeed missed out because I’ve given my body (rather than my health) more import than it deserved. There were endless nights (in the days I used to go to pubs and nightclubs) that I felt uncomfortable and ashamed next to my thinner and more glamorous friends. They would be wearing summery strappy dresses at the races and I would be wearing pants and shirts with enough material to cover my offending trunk and limbs. Men would talk to them. And not me. I suspect I would still feel like that if I still went ‘out’ with friends. My friends are all paired up now so we don’t really hit the local pub scene any more, so I don’t have cause to stress about my wardrobe.
If I’m honest, I would still love to be slim so I can wear what I want and feel more confident when out and about. However, (dare I say) I’m more ‘evolved’ than I once was and less prone to judge myself solely based on my body, so I no longer dwell on it quite so much. I know my compassion and consideration (I talked about in an earlier blog post) are just as important to those I meet and those who care about me. The only reason the physical aspect remains important to me is that I still hope to meet Prince Charming one day. But it seems I just need to meet a man who can look past the exterior and see what’s underneath.