For the past five or so years I have been loosely and casually studying fear in the Bible. The idea of being fearless has become a sort of goal of mine. I have also, I suppose all of my life, been an advocate for body positivity. Somehow I have made it to twenty eight years old, being overweight since puberty, and without ever hating my body. Unfortunately I don’t think many women can say that and I think it gives me a unique position from which to affirm others.
This week my fascination with fearlessness and my celebration of all body types become clearly united during a practice that I have made routine.
We’re the unknown Americans, the ones no one even wants to know, because they’ve been told they’re supposed to be scared of us and because maybe if they did take the time to get to know us, they might realize that we’re not that bad, maybe even that we’re a lot like them. And who would they hate then? – The Book of Unknown Americans, Cristina Henriquez
When I sat down to write this blog post that I have been intending to write since my 28th birthday almost two weeks ago this quote from Cristina Henriquez’s The Book of Unknown Americans came to mind. It’s so easy to fear what we don’t know. It’s so easy to hate what we don’t know. But when we sit down with people (including ourselves) and open ourselves up to getting to know someone (including ourselves) it’s much harder to fear and to hate.
For a long time I avoided my own body. I would get undressed and jump right in the shower and as soon as I got out of the shower I would get dressed again. Friends of mine would talk about sleeping naked and I would cringe inside, thinking about how weird it would feel. Part of that avoidance is because of the sexualization of nudity in the United States, but part of that is probably also because while I didn’t hate my body, I didn’t really love it either.
A couple of years ago I started making it a practice to stand in front of the mirror naked before getting in the shower.
I’ve mentioned here before (and in other places) that I am a “fake it till you make it” gal. So I would look at myself in the mirror and say (mostly in my head but sometimes out loud), “I am beautiful. I love my body.” I would squish my belly and poke my back fat and jiggle my thighs tell my body that I loved it. Every day.
And something really cool happened. I faked it till I made it! Last night I stood in front of the mirror and looked at my belly and genuinely LOVED it. I thought, without any prompting needed, “My belly is beautiful! It’s a great size! I like it!”
I recently watched a talk Tracee Ellis Ross gave at Glamour’s 2017 Women of the Year Summit. Do you follow Tracee Ellis Ross on social media? You totally should. She’s beautiful and brazen and funny and great. The talk was amazing (you can watch it and read the transcript here), but one line in particular really resonated with me.
I want to do it. I want to be the Brave Me,
the real me… fully in bloom.
– Tracee Ellis Ross
The real and brave me, the fully in bloom me, the me that I was created to be isn’t afraid. The real me sits with herself, actively loves herself (and others!) and fakes it till she makes it. The brave me sits with others and listens, learning more about God and self by learning more about others.
A friend of mine, after reading the above blog post, messaged me to say that she doesn’t really hate her body, but definitely doesn’t love it. Her bravery and vulnerability and the truth of what she shared literally made me cry. Not just tear up but cry. I hate that she feels that way and that she is not alone in feeling that way. For some reason those kind of negative-against-self thoughts and feelings get ingrained in us and it doesn’t seem like a problem to constantly tear ourselves apart. It doesn’t seem like a problem that we spend so much time fussing and worrying and complaining about our physical bodies when how we look DOESN’T ACTUALLY MATTER. It only matters because society decided it mattered. You know?
And satan uses those lies to distract us. Because how much time do we spend – maybe not you and me specifically but as women and as humans – focused on what we look like? Way too much time. And for what? Some imaginary standard that someone made up?
I know that I have definitely been guilty of thinking, “Oh, she’s skinny, so she doesn’t get it,” but we ALL struggle with this, I think. And we just have to make it a priority to love ourselves and to believe that we are worthy of love because God says we are.
I used to think that someone would love me in spite of my body. (I have mentioned this before). Tragic. One day a man is going to fall madly in love with every part of me and he is going to want to see me naked a lot. One day a man is going to fall madly in love with YOU – every part of you – and be so pumped to finally get to see you naked.
We can be where this train stops. We can love our bodies and refuse to waste time on satan’s lies that we’re not curvy enough or skinny enough or clear-skinned enough or whatever enough because God formed us in our mother’s womb and GOD DON’T MAKE JUNK.
A flower doesn’t worry about the flower next to it. It just blooms. A flower and a sunset are both beautiful but look vastly different. We can be flowers! Focused on how we can bloom – loving and listening and learning and growing and that all in and of itself is beautiful. ❤