I adore this drawing, and I truly wish I knew who the artist was/is (thank you whoever you are and please identify yourself if you are the artist! I'd love to credit your work).
I am sharing this wonderful sketch with all of you lovelies who are blossoming into embracing your beautiful selves as well. And for those who beat up on yourself for every inch or pound, may you begin to heal.
I am reminded of a recent visit with a rail thin female friend who fed herself the following verbal poison no less than 9 times in 24 hours: "I hate my body, I need to lose weight", "Only 5 more pounds to go", "It's really unhealthy to be even 10 pounds over weight", "I was so fat a few months ago", "How are you doing on your diet?", "You know Mari, Americans are the fattest people", "Europeans know how to stay healthy and slim", and on and on and on. She cooks up a storm but can't enjoy a single bite without shaming herself. Truly so heartbreaking.
Sadly, I have heard this self hating mantra from her for years and years. My responses in the past have included things like, "No way, you are so slim!" "Gosh, I wish I was a thin as you", "You look wonderful", "You have never been fat!", "Ugh, I am so fat too", "You have a darling figure!", "Maybe I need to lose weight too?" and so forth.
For years I would collude with her body hatred and shame shopping and, after our visit, I would drive away feeling hopeless and unattractive as though I had offended her lean aesthetic sensibilities with my American curves. I would begin my own mantra of beating up on my wonderful body. And by the time I arrived home, I would be deep in the trenches and tears of self loathing.
As the years slipped by, I began to pull away, making excuses on why I was too busy to meet, mostly because I would stress about my appearance, and did not want to expose myself to the veiled digs waiting for me as she dug mercilessly into herself.
The good news (at least for me) is that I longer engage in that tired old dance with her these days. A dance that formerly left me feeling breathless with body anxiety. I now show up curves and all, and when she starts up, I give a gentle smile and say a small silent prayer that she might one day be able to love herself, just exactly as she is, which is beautiful. Then I simply redirect the conversation, or compliment her cooking, or discuss my latest exercise that I love.
I will no longer allow her own body shaming to be a contagion toward me loving my perfectly imperfect body. I find that I am allergic to these kinds of conversations which do not encourage connection, love, and healthy intimacy between girlfriends.
These days I prefer to embrace body strengthening vs body shaming.
Ladies, if you have experienced this, or if you do this, please think about how this impacts you on a cellular level. While it is important to take good care of ourselves, especially in our 40s and 50s and beyond, each of us is wonderfully and uniquely made. Comparing our figures and then feeling better or worst than is such a killer of intimacy between women.
I am currently embracing a season of healthier eating and fitness...with balance and encouragement from a girlfriend as we check in with each other on our goals. I want to drop a few pounds so that I feel healthier and more fit, however, I refuse to engage in one more conversation about "how fat" we all are.
If you agree that it really is time to allow women to be women, to encourage each other and accept each other, let me know in the comments below - let's start a revolution of self love!
Here is to a healthier mind, spirit and body. Here is to really, honestly and once and freaking for all loving our selves, every damn inch!
P.S. Here is an invitation to every bea-YOU-ti-ful woman reading this right now:
I invite you to join me this fall Sept 29-Oct 1, 2017 for the Shine Retreat For Women self care weekend.
All women, no matter your age, size, or ethnicity are warmly welcomed to join myself and other authentic, kind hearted and inclusive women for a weekend of self care, connection, restoration and fun!
Details and registration: http://shineretreatforwomen.com
Kindly and in support,
Mari A. Lee, LMFT, CSAT-S