Hello from Aruba, Positively Positive tribe!!
So, I see this hashtag everywhere: #Thestruggleisreal.
Body-image. Body love. Self-love. All of it. The struggle is real. In this case it is.
But it doesn’t have to be.
What if we embraced our bodies? What if we loved our bodies, belly rolls and wrinkles and grey hairs and our butts and our teeth (even the one that’s missing because you never got an implant, Jennifer.) What if?
The struggle is real. Especially for me, having dealt with severe anorexia and exercise bulimia (I used to work out for four to five hours a day. Really.) But maybe it is for you too. I shared this video on my Facebook (the one below) and it got over 70 thousand hits in a few days. So I guess the struggle is real for more than a few of us. I’m not that special. (Isn’t that just a wondrous epiphany – when we realize that we aren’t that special? It’s so freeing! Weeeee! I am not alone in my f*cked-upedness.)
What if our bodies became our best friends? As my friend Wren Thompson-Wynn wrote here on my site The Manifest-Station, “My body. It’s the only one who has been with me and experienced everything with me through my entire life. No one knows me like my body does. She really should be my best friend. So why don’t I let her be?”
I realized that in writing Girl Power: You Are Enough, and in leading these workshops, that I have to be held accountable. I have to walk the talk, as they say. Whoever “they” are, the powers that be, the ones who watch over you and call you out for being full of shit. I can’t sit here feeling my stomach fall over my waistband and have it send me into a panic induced slump of feeling worthless. That rabbit hole is hard as hell to emerge from. I lived in it for years. I wore platform shoes and waited tables on concrete floors as I secretly grabbed my fat rolls and vowed, “Tomorrow I will not eat. Tomorrow I will be good.”
I saw a video last week that broke my heart. This thirty-seven year old woman, Rachel Farrokh, was begging people to help her raise money so she could get treatment for her anorexia. She weighs forty-five pounds, her husband has to carry her up and down the stairs because she is so weak. As I watched it, I said, “I was never that bad.” And I wasn’t. But it’s not hard to imagine. That rabbit hole. There it is again. Just a little more and I will be happy. Just a little more and I will be in control. Just a little more and I will be perfect. Just a little more and I will be enough. <<< BULLSHIT.
You never arrive at the destination of “Yes, I am finally here. I finally love myself,” by starving yourself. NEVER.
I hope she gets the help she needs, I really do.
So I made this video on set (aka my living room) and people went crazy for it. I wanted to barf a little as I was making it and immediately after, but I posted it anyway. You can watch below right here.
I didn’t post the video to get compliments or to have people justify my not-fatness. I posted it as an act of defiance. I posted it an an act of bravery, because despite what anyone thinks, and truly it does not matter anyway what “they” say, my body has often been a source of shame and pain. I have often hid the parts of me I don’t feel are beautiful (my stomach, grey hair, etc) and this video was just a way for me to say F*ck hiding. I embrace myself. Because really people, it’s all we got. Why is that so hard for us to comprehend? This body is the only one we get for this lifetime. So yea, I grabbed my belly and made my fat talk. Because you also have to have a sense of humor or you are truly f*cked.
I challenge you with this blog post to accept your body. No matter what.
Whether you have cellulite or stretch marks or a few extra pounds. Whether you have crows feet or grey hair or you spent too much time baking in the sun with Crisco when you were a teen. Whether you have long legs or short ones or you are an amputee. Whether you are androgynous, whether you have big boobs or small ones, or hell, any boobs at all. Whether you are twelve or sixteen or sixty-seven or ninety-eight. But my gosh, if you are ninety-eight and you read my blog, can we go get a drink together? A hot toddy? A brandy? Cause you are rad. You are ninety-eight!! And you are enough.
I challenge you to challenge what we have been taught, what has been embedded into our psyches on a deep cellular level, and that is that you must look a certain way to be beautiful. I call bullshit. The strive for perfection is a myth because there is no such thing, it’s simply a way to keep us all striving like rats on a wheel. More weight off. More this, less that. I will be better, I will look younger, I will fit in, I will be beautiful, one day, one day, one day, one day. One day is now.
One day is here. It’s a Monday. It’s June. It’s bathing suit season so put on your bloody bathing suit, no scratch that, put on your birthday suit, yea, that’s right, buck naked. Stand there in the buff and stand in awe at the godamned miracle that you are. Bear witness to your body and its strength and beauty and even if it makes you weep because my God, this is so hard, this feels so corny, I can’t stand here and look at my body and admire it, if only my butt was a little higher, if only I had two more inches on me, why is this Jennifer person asking us to do this, this is weird and awkward and I hate my body, even if that is you, do it anyway. Because no matter what you think, or what you have been made to think, or what you have bought into it – You Are Enough.
It has nothing to do with your jiggle or your nose or your skin.
I challenge you to share this blog and video. I challenge you to make your own. I challenge you to post it in the comments or on my Facebook or instagram or wherever the hell, who cares really, just do it, post what you love about your body, about yourself. Declare today, Monday June 8th, The I Love My Body Day. Is that too corny for you? You can call it The I Hate My Body Day. It’s on you, whatever you decide.
As for me, I prefer the first holiday. I am going to declare this a national holiday.
In fact, go home from work.
You can have the rest of the day off. It’s a holiday and all.
And if you are in the rabbit hole as you are reading this, well here – here is a rope. I am throwing it down for you. You have to do some of the work though. I refuse to crawl back down there. When you start to see light, you have emerged. I will be there waiting with a glass of wine or coffee or tea or whatever you drink. And a big body squashing hug. And together we will keep putting one foot in front of the other, we will keep declaring war on self-loathing, we will keep reminding each other what is apparently quite easy to forget.
And that is: That we are enough.
Love, Jen xox
I have one spot open for my Tuscany retreat at the end of the month June 27-July 4th and three for the fall retreat. Apply here or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I will see you in NYC July 25, Atlanta Aug 8 and Chicago Aug 22! Info here.
Jen leads retreats that are a combo of yoga/writing and for ALL levels. Read this post to understand. Check out manifestationyoga.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you (Dallas, Miami, South Vancouver, NYC & London are next). Jen is the guest speaker 3 times a year at Canyon Ranch and leads an annual retreat to Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health every February, as well as an annual invite only retreat to Tuscany. She is the founder of the popular The Manifest-Station website. Jen is leading Other Voices Querétaro in Mexico with authors Gina Frangello, Emily Rapp, Stacy Berlein, and Rob Roberge in May . Follow her on Instagram and Twitter. You can also find her at BeautyHunting.com.
Featured image courtesy of Joe Longo.