On Throwing Out the Rules and Feeling Like the Heroine You Are


On the Beach in Positano

Ahh, summer has finally arrived and, along with sundresses and sandals, brought with it an ever-lingering dilemma.

This blog post, by Beth Berry at Revolution from Home, which I love to follow, stirred my thoughts on this subject anew.  Of course, as a woman in America, this struggle is already taking up way too much valuable retail space in my head.

My struggle usually goes something like this:  Love yourself as you are!  No, wait, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to change yourself through better diet and activity!  But what if it’s for pure vanity vs. increased health?  Can you say, “First world problems?”  And how do I get past just “acceptance” to love and embrace the image in the mirror?

Sometimes it’s easier to just grab an ice cream cone and tune it all out.

Eating Ice Cream

Photo courtesy hortongrou, sxc.hu

The woman behind the original Facebook post which inspired Beth’s blog said her issue was control.  She hated that she couldn’t control her body’s appearance the way she wanted to, even though she was doing everything “right.”  I can totally relate to that, as that feeling of frustration has echoed for me, “What more can I do?!?  Nothing is changing!”

But even though I was nodding my head in understanding as I read her online revelation, I knew that control – or lack of it – wasn’t entirely my issue.

It seems my issue is “the rules.”

Just recently, I’ve been doing The Desire Map (which I’ve posted about briefly before), so I’m trying to be more mindful of doing activities and taking on projects not because I should, but because of how they’ll make me feel.

To that end, I’ve made a conscious decision to continue attending Bodyflow, because when I’m in the class, I feel elegant and strong and feminine.  Not because I think my thighs are too soft and Warrior pose might tighten them up.  (But hey, if so, I’ll take that bonus.)

Warrior Pose

Even this guy can do it.

As I’m in class the other day, rocking the Pigeon pose and feeling like a rock star, I find myself checking out my own Spandex’d rear in the mirror.

“Why do you even need to look?” I thought to myself.  And I realized:   I was only going to allow myself to feel sexy if I thought my body’s outward appearance was currently conforming to society’s definition of what looks like sexy.

That is SO. MESSED. UP.

Here I was, doing something exceedingly good for my body and soul, feeling confident and beautiful, made in the Divine Image, and I want to go ruining that because there is a little cellulite on my backside?

All of a sudden I don’t deserve to enjoy this because the ballerina next to me can pull off a better five-pointed star than I can?  Talk about crap.

Star Pose

Guaranteed this girl is feeling like the show-stopper she is.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all about being healthy.  I love to eat delicious fresh foods, take care of my body, and advocate for the importance of a healthy weight and lifestyle.  But just because we all any of us don’t look like airbrushed Cosmo covers doesn’t mean we don’t deserve to feel feminine and secure in our own skin.

This is absolutely a work in progress for me.  I am hoping that, the next time I, or a friend, make a negative body image comment, I will be able to respond with, “Okay, but how do you FEEL?”

If the answer is “tired, unattractive, unlovable, in pain,” then let’s look at the source of those feelings and do something proactive to fix them.  But if the honest answer is “energetic, breezy, in love with life, but-I-just-wish-my-girls-would-stay-perky,” then let go of the nit-picking.

If wearing a skirt makes you feel like a goddess and puts an extra spring in your step, but you haven’t gone knee-length since your third baby 15 years ago because you’re anxious people might notice your cankles, I say – throw on your favorite frock and rock it.  Allow it to make you feel good.  Give yourself permission to break the “rules” and feel as confident as you want.

If you only feel comfortable when your arms are covered, then pull your most beautiful shrug out of the closet and get comfy.  But don’t do it because you’re worried “oh no, people don’t want to see {my strong shoulders} {my softening skin} {the scars that tell a story}.”

Do it because it’s a mindful decision that you know will make you feel great, and then move on.  Feel those great feelings.

Women Walking from the Beach

Enjoying all of life’s stages.

Here’s to a summer of stretch marks, wrinkles, cellulite, natural bodies, mojo, energy, and the feminine confidence to revel in what makes you unique.