I don’t know many people who aren’t concerned that something about their body or facial features or hair or skin color or anything having to do with appearance isn’t good enough. The negative self-talk about appearance is rampant, particularly for women. Often a very successful woman judges herself and is judged by others by her appearance, even if she has accomplished a great deal in her life and work.
And the myths abound about what your body type says about who you are. They are endless and absolutely ridiculous: if you are too heavy you are lazy, if you are too thin you are cold, if you are too short you are inadequate, if you are too tall you are lonely…to name a few. The unfortunate consequences of hearing these things throughout our lives is that we internalize them and think less of ourselves—in fact sometimes hating ourselves—because of our body shape or size or color.
There is research that shows that you can be healthy—or not—at any height or weight. And there is living proof everywhere that you can be successful—or not—at any height or weight. You can be a kind person—or not—whatever you look like. In other words, your body does not determine who you are and what your life is. What you do with your life and how you experience your life is determined by the choices you make, regardless of your body and appearance.
I am reading a wonderful book on sexuality called Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex by Emily Nagoski Ph.D. Besides offering lots of helpful information about the psychology and biology of women’s sexual system, the book does an excellent job of exclaiming that whatever you look like, from head to toe—sex organs included—you are perfect and beautiful. There is an infinite range of variation in physical appearance and all is beautiful and normal.
Yet it is very difficult to think of yourself as beautiful and normal when you differ from the societal images that make up the standard norms. Tall but not too tall, thin but not too thin, boobs on the bigger size, white skin and white teeth, long flowing hair, athletic but not too athletic and I’m sure I’ve left out some others is the predominant image of the “to be attained look” we see in the media for women. Tall but not too tall, athletic but not too muscular, white skin and white teeth, hair that’s tended to but not too coiffed and certainly not bald unless its intentional and on and on for men. So it is not surprising that we are so hard on ourselves when we don’t fit that unrealistic model. Sure what is considered ideal changes a bit from time to time—like right now the bearded man is all the rage—but in general if you are anything but that societal fantasy of what perfect is, you feel less than.
And feeling less than is a showstopper. Whether you berate yourself and find fault with your body or behavior, you are doing a disservice to yourself and limiting your experience of joy in life. When you spend much of your time worrying about how you look, you not only waste precious time, but you also hold yourself back emotionally from doing things that require internal fierceness and strength and resolve. To get into your personal place of power, which is a must to create the life you love, you have to learn how to support and use your body (see also Finding and Feeling Into Your Personal Power).
When you think about it, your body is an awesome thing. Your body enables you to walk, run, think, eat, have sex, climb mountains or hills, sleep, work and play. You would not be you and all the amazing things you do and experience in your life without your magnificent body. Even with any physical aches and pains and illnesses you might have, regardless of your size or shape or color, your body runs for decades and keeps on going well beyond the age of most other living things and man-made machines like automobiles. Although you may not have thought about it that way, your body is to be cherished and loved with all your might for all it gives to you. Your body is perfect and beautiful and lovable, because it is you.