Dear Rose People,
Yesterday, I was standing in the outdoor shower in the sunlight, giving my well-worn body a good scrub and cold rinse, and really enjoying every inch of the experience. I remembered being 18 and hiding my body for fear of being less than perfect- a vague feeling of body shame persisted well into my 30s. I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self to “just stop it.” That all those thoughts were coming from flawed social conditioning, and weren’t true. That this kind of poor body image limits participation in life’s joys (eg: enthusiastic daytime sex, wearing expressive clothes, jumping unabashed into a summer lake, dancing with abandon… what else?)
I know from my personal experience and from a decade of leading these conversations on overcoming sexual and body shame that it’s possible to shift into a place of celebration and full expression of the bodies we have right now (not the ones we used to have, or the ones we might have in some imaginary future!). My first published work on this was called Love Your Body Now, and was featured in the best selling bookTao of Dating in 2004- and this work continues with Rosebud Woman and the Rose Woman podcast.
We know that our feelings about our bodies are often influenced by upbringing, social standards and media representations. Despite 30 years of the body positivity movement, societal standards still often emphasize a thin and fit ideal for women. Some women might not see people like themselves (age, race, ability, ethnicity, sexual orientation come to mind) depicted in the media as beautiful or desirable. Research shows that poor body image can lead to mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. It’s also a big energy leak. There’s a significant association between body image and sexual satisfaction: women who are more comfortable with their bodies tend to enjoy sex more.
Some simple suggestions for loving the body:
- Shift your focus to the things you like about your body and what it allows you to do.
- Take care of your body- exercise and eat right for health rather than to change appearance. Instead of focusing on how your body looks, try to focus on what it can do and how it feels.
- Surround yourself with people who have a healthy relationship with their own bodies and who help you feel good about yourself.
- Limit your exposure to idealized media images and when you do encounter them, remind yourself that these images often don’t reflect reality.
- Practice gratitude for your body and its functions.
- Treat yourself with kindness and understanding. Speak to yourself as you would to a friend.
Maybe most importantly, take the time to examine the thoughts, feelings and programming that live inside of you and invite the unhelpful thoughts to leave. To help with this, I have put together an all new Body Love Journal, with a daily self care checklist and nine weeks of self-paced guided prompts for inquiry. If you are already free of this old programming, I hope that you will become a champion of body love in the culture, encouraging the people you know into more freedom and joy. It’s such a gift to all of us when women feel free and happy in their bodies and skin. Happy midsummer, beauties.
Founder, Rosebud Woman