Body image

Jun 12, 2013
I talk a good talk when it comes to body image and confidence. I know the 'right' things to say - Don't compare yourself to other women, curves are beautiful, cultural beauty standards for women are ridiculous and unrealistic, yadda yadda. And intellectually, I believe all of that that. 

So it puzzles and frustrates me that I have such a hard time walking the walk and PRACTICING this self-love and body confidence. I flip-flop all the time between being really proud of my body, and hating it. I'll see my back muscles popping out and be like Hell Yeah, look at that, I am HULK, RAWR! And then I'll see my belly popping out over my jeans and be like... Well shit, that looks awful. 

I wish the body I see in the mirror when I get out of the shower is the one I see all the time. I look at myself in that mirror in my undies and I don't see myself as fat at all, pleasantly curvy but not ugly-fat, and then I see photos of myself or catch my reflection fully clothed and am like UGH who is that?? Where did all of that come from?

I was tagged in some photos recently on Facebook that made me cringe. Some were from my brother's graduation, where the shirt I was wearing clung to the muffin-top created by my skinny jeans and the back-fat pinched by my bra. Some were from my friend's birthday celebration, where the dress I was wearing looked fine in a low-lit bar but a photo with flash showed every ripple and bulge I was trying to hide with the tummy-tucker I wore under it. Some were from a work event, where I was photographed from the side in a t-shirt and capri pants, and I swore to never pose for photos from that angle again because it just illuminates how disproportionately huge my boobs are. 

I go to pole class and practice in front of mirrors, which let me see not only myself, but all other girls around me, and I feel like a chubby cow among fit, slender deer. I know *they* don't see me like that, and I certainly am not critical of the few women I occasionally see who are my size or bigger. I can do a dance and feel great, then see footage of said dance and feel like crap. 

It's like wearing headphones where, in one ear, I hear messages of love and acceptance, and in the other ear, the voice of my inner monster saying "Yeah, you think you're hot shit but look at THIS, you've clearly got a long way to go." 

And then I get angry at myself for feeling ashamed. It's a vicious cycle of self-loathing, embodied by a person who believes wholeheartedly in self-loving. 

I notice the same thing in my other life as a writing instructor. I'm constantly and consciously trying to build up my students' confidence in their writing ability, and then I go home to write my own stuff and am held back by my battle with the same inner critic that I was just coaching them to ignore. 

And then I observe too, that among women especially, self-deprecation is almost a bonding thing. We compare notes on what we don't like about ourselves, going out of our way to praise and compliment each other while tearing ourselves down - or maybe even intentionally putting ourselves down to fish for compliments. We speak to ourselves in ways we'd never speak to others. We can accept love from others but can't accept it from ourselves. 

There's a cynical side to me that thinks the fluffy self-love/acceptance talk is all bullshit, nice thoughts that I WANT to believe but that have no bearing on reality. ‚ÄčIn fact, the more I want to believe it, the more I struggle to take any of it seriously. It just sounds so disingenuine and fake sometimes. Like those participation trophies and gold stars my generation got as kids just for showing up. The intention is good, but, well, come onnnnn. Really? 

I don't really have a conclusion to this post in mind, these were just thoughts floating around my head this morning that I could not shake, so I'm dumping them all here. And no, not fishing for compliments - if anyone comments on this, I'd like to talk about the larger issues of body image and this double-voice thing rather than read a list of "you're so great, don't hate yourself" kinds of stuff. Thanks for reading! 
Lara von MondbergWell, I can sadly relate to this issue. I alwyas dreamt of a well trained body and now I have one. But I still have doubts about myself, I am very critical to myself and have exactly those good and bad images of me, changing like a wheel in a wind.
I guess I grew up with an imige in my head what is pretty and what I should look like. I learned how to be happy with my body and face and everything, but there are still those days when I think: oh my, my belly, my thighs, my lipps, the whatever..buggs me today and I wished I could look different and feel bad about myself.
The double voice is also in my case there and honetsly, I have no clue how to stop it. People tell me that I am beautiful and well trained, but somehow the days with being selfconsious are coming and leaving as they please. I wonder if that has to do anything with the pictures that media is feeding us, those perfectly photoshopped images of unrealisticly built people, maybe even the pressure in my familly and pressure from my ex-boyfriends...
I can remember kids at school telling me that my hair is too long ( it was waistlong back then), because they were jealous. I did not uderstand that back then and at some point I cut my hair. And then I felt bad, becasue the one thing that I considered beautiful and made me different was gone and I felt so random, so "normal" and I did not like that.
I guess in my case it is the urge that I want to be (or rather just feel) somehow special, somehow better, prettier and whatever more than the others, because that makes me feel great. I can't tell why is that, it just is. I never wanted to be just the average and I guess that is maybe both the result of- and the cause for this double-voice in my head.
But don't get me wrong, I am not arrogant and I do not think that I am better than anyone else, I just want to feel that I am better in something like e.g. cooking, dancing or stuff like that. I want to be better in things I achieved, I learned.
I am also just following my random thoughts on that subject :) I am curious what others feel..
Jun 12, 2013
HyperHorsegirlYou could be writing this for me right now. I know I SHOULD love my body, but should and DOING are different things. Everything you're feeling is 100% what I'm feeling too.
Jun 12, 2013
Krissykiki Paid MemberI understand what you are saying. I push hard with others the importance of loving yourself and self acceptance. But that doesn't mean it comes easy. I struggle with this all the time myself but one thing I have found that works for me to counteract the negative self talk or negative voices is to counter act with honest valid positive self talk. (I know it sounds lame but it does work)

1. Stop yourself. When you catch yourself thinking negative things about yourself just stop mid-mind sentence. You don't need to hear that. If some asshole were saying all this to you, you'd shut them up with a backhand or walk away.
2. Look at yourself in a mirror or look at a photo of yourself.
3.Think of something you like about yourself physically. Pick a physical feature you like, your hair, eyes, boobs, legs, biceps whatever.
4.Say what you like about yourself out loud. We believe things better when we say them. Example: "I have an awesome ass that just wont quit and I love that about myself." And mean what you say.
5. Think of something that your body can do that you are proud of. Whether it it be strength, endurance, flexibility or the progress you have made.
6. Compliment yourself on that out loud. Example "I can beat my friends in a push up contest and I love that I am that strong" And mean what you say.

I find when I redirect my thoughts like this it does help with my attitude which in turns keeps me motivated in my get fit be healthy journey. I do think this type of approach works for any self negative talk though. I often get very critical of my own art and negative self talk myself into bad moods over it.

And I know you said you didn't want compliments but I'm gonna go ahead and break that rule ;) cause your body is awesome! You are crazy strong and I always impressed with your videos and moves. <3
Jun 12, 2013
aliceBheartlessYour description of your experiences is basically exactly what I am dealing, and have been, since, well... it seems forever. I definitely fall into that silly cycle of getting upset about it, and then getting more upset because I got upset in the first place. If that isn't the perfect example of spinning wheels, I don't know what is.

Another thing I constantly do is look back at prior me. A few years back, I broke up with a long-time boyfriend and moved to Hawaii. It was life-changing for many reasons. I wasn't happy in my first job there, so I started running again, to blow off steam. It became an obsession, fueled by the fact that I hated my job and felt really bad at it. I ate pretty healthy and ran 4-6 days a week, 4-12 miles a day depending on my working, just chasing my sanity. On my off days, I did aerial. I dropped a ton of weight, actually I hit my lowest body weight in my adult life, which was almost 20 pounds less than I currently am. It was funny because when I was running, I still didn't think I was small enough. Everyone around me noticed the drop in weight, and I got a lot of comments, some of which were worried about me. However, a death in the family, traveling, a new boyfriend, etc shook up my routine after about 6-8 months of crazy running, and I basically stopped. I checked in with myself between then and now multiple times, bemoaning my weight gain. Every few months I would feel fat, and then a few months later, that "fat" me from a few months ago was definitely a better option than my current "fat" one. Mentally, I browbeat myself about it. A lot. I still do, even though I don't like it.

I don't know what is more upsetting to me, that I care so much about my weight (I am currently maybe not at my "ideal" weight, but definitely not technically overweight) that I want to run everyday, blow people off to exercise, be really limited in what I eat, so I don't get upset about looking at my ass in a mirror? Seriously? That is what I want?! I am a bit of masochist, but I know that kind of sustained running will probably never happen again. I have better things to do, and I don't want my knees to get wrecked. But really believing that has been really difficult for me. Especially as part of the aerial world. I am too big to be an aerialist, height and width-wise. I towered over everyone I performed with, and the only ones that I didn't tower over were at minimum 40 pounds lighter than me. Its just so easy to forget that of those 40 pounds, is some muscle that lets me do things they cannot. And that how my rear looks in a mirror is completely not indicative of me and my capabilities.
Jun 12, 2013
xxhayleyxxThis has been an issue I've struggled with for years and years. When I moved to a new school, I gained weight from stress, lack of friends etc. The weight did not help this situation and it was a viscous cycle of unhappy. When I hit high school, I decided enough was enough and worked my ass off the summer before 10th grade to lose 40lbs. Yay for me right? Well, I felt like the same person. It's a thing we always tell ourselves right? "I will be so happy if... if i lose that weight, if I had her body" if if if. Even if that "if" is attainable, it is not what will make you happy with yourself. If one isn't content with what they have in the present, they for damn sure won't be if they get what they think they want.
It's taken me a long time to feel *more* comfortable with my body. I can say some days I'm feeling damn fine and others dumpy as shit. Majority of the time though, I feel best with less on. I think it's the pinching and tightness that clothes create that makes me very aware of what body parts look like. I see myself in the mirror and think, ughh boobs are too small, though I know I'm wearing a 34D ughhh waist is too big, ass too small and wide, etc you get it.. I'm getting better at complimenting myself but I'm still learning
One thing to always remember is when we look at ourselves, we look at body parts and not the individual. We focus on that one roll sticking out or the exact thickness of one body part. Think of how often you do that with other girls you know? We always look at other's bodies as a whole and not separate pieces. How great they look practicing on that pole! If we could learn to do that with ourselves I think we'd learn to appreciate our bodies more.
Jun 12, 2013
Rue Mortwell said
Jul 30, 2013
JoleneBell I really feel you.

I believe that my mother contributed to my poor body image. She was always calling herself "fatso" and degrading herself terribly. She also dressed like a frumpy "mom" and rarely dressed up, which I believe was due to the doctrine she followed at the time that basically taught a fear of being attractive and beautiful. Plus, Victoria's Secret catalogs came to our house constantly and I loved looking at them because I could rifle through the pages and daydream about looking that good. That became my concept of beauty. If I could look like one of those women, then I could truly be happy with myself. No, it doesn't work that way. We -must- choose to be happy with ourselves -now-. To accept ourselves -now-.

When I pole, I feel fat sometimes. I don't have the long, lean body of these masterful polers that shimmy around like graceful snakes *coughVeenacough*. But I'm working on changing my mindset of comparison. Stretch marks or not, I'm hot.

I look back on my teen years and asking an aunt to give me her opinion of my body and if she thought I looked overweight (I didn't, by the way. I was a goddess. Just didn't know it then). She then assessed and told me what I should do in order to get a better body. My mother would do the same thing when I'd ask her. Sure, maybe I shouldn't have asked. But I was a child, looking to older women for what I needed from them: reassurance that I was gorgeous the way I was. I look back and I'm disgusted. I'm sure today, my mother would take it back if she could. The lesson I learned, though: I will not teach my daughter poor body image. I will never, ever criticize her appearance, even if she asks me to. I will encourage her to be fit and eat healthy foods.

I wrote a blog entry about my first pole class and feeling like a total cow. I couldn't believe how huge I felt next to all those firm and sleek girls. BUT, of course they hate their bodies, too. Most of them were wearing sweat pants, when the class guidelines clearly stated to wear shorts! It`s so ridiculous, isn't it?!

I heard someone say that looking in the mirror daily and making the statement, "I accept myself unconditionally, right now," helps you truly get it into your soul. I've been doing it daily for about two weeks now, and amazingly, I think it's helping.

We're all in this together. <3
Jan 29, 2014
This is the best side splits warm up I've ever done. Really helps warming up the hamstrings and hip flexors before going into splits. Wondering why my instructors never taught us this!
more testimonials