Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Loving Your Body Now: Overcoming Conditional Confidence

by Natalie Lynn Borton

This post is actually an article that I recently wrote for Darling Magazine, a soon-to-be-launched online magazine about the art of being a woman. For those of you who struggle with conditional body-confidence (like me), this article is for you:

I’ll love my body when I lose weight. When my skin clears up. When my thighs are slimmer. When my stomach is flat.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all had a conditional love for our bodies. Whether it was in middle school when we dreamed of having more curves, or 10 years later when we cursed every curve on our body. We want what we can’t have, and we refuse to love our bodies until they’re in whatever perfect state our twisted minds want them to be in.

It’s a messy situation. Is it wrong to want to look different? What does it mean to really love our bodies anyway? Is it possible to love a body that isn’t the way we want it to be? These are the questions I want us the dive into together.

First things first, what about wanting to look different? Truly, it’s a natural desire to want what we don’t have. The grass can always be greener, and we will always want something different. Whether we wish we were curvier or skinnier, taller or shorter, we each have a certain size and shape that we’ve been given and we can’t change that. However, I believe the desire for beauty is something everyone is born with, and there is no shame in desiring to be or making ourselves more attractive physically. The key to keeping these changes within healthy boundaries is to stay true to what makes us unique (i.e. wearing clothes that flatter our figure, rather than going on an extreme diet to lose weight). Remember: there’s nothing special about being a copy of someone else.

Secondly, what does loving our bodies even look like? The best way I’ve heard it said is, “Treat your body like you would treat a friend.” This could include some or all of the following:

  • Feed your body nourishing food and be true to your real hunger.
  • Buy and wear clothes that fit your body as it is today, not as it was five years ago or will be in a few months.
  • Use positive language when talking about your body--regardless of if it’s in your head or out loud.

Lastly, how can we love our body if we actually hate it? It’s a paradox, indeed, but if we ever want to have healthy body image, we have to learn to accept the way our bodies look as they are RIGHT NOW. If we can’t love our body today, we won’t love our body when it’s “perfect,” because that idea of perfect will always change.

Look in the mirror today and delight in what you see, even if it's not the reflection that you wish you had. Look at your eyes, your smile, your skin, your hair, your legs. Thank your body for what it does for you and spend this week delighting in the joy of your beauty. You are a woman, and you are beautiful.

What are your strategies for overcoming conditional body-confidence?

P.S. You can find the original article on the Darling Magazine website here.

4 comments:

  1. This is so good and so important. I really struggle with this because I have grown up thinking that if you are not trying to have a more perfect body you are not a good person, this has made me want to run away from this idea completely! I tend to want people to know I am overweight and unhappy about my bodies before they think I am delusional about my situation. I am trying to work through my unhealthy views of my self image.
    The thing is, I think we judge ourselves as "not good enough" no matter where we are. I look back on pictures and think..I looked fine..but during that time I thought I was so ugly and fat.
    Thank you for promoting this in a world that screams the opposite. I appreciate it, for one.

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  2. I love what you say here: "I think we judge ourselves as 'not good enough' no matter where we are.'"

    It's so true! That's why it's so important for us to learn to love ourselves as we are today. The lines between thin and not-thin-enough, beautiful and less-than-pretty, good enough and not-quite-there are always moving. We need to decide today that we won't compare anymore, and that we'll respect and honor our bodies no matter what.

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  3. I LOVE THIS.

    You once wrote about the seasons of grace and discipline. I'm in what I consider a season of "pseudo grace." Meaning, I realize I've allowed the lines to blur a bit and I haven't been living in the fullness of HIS Grace, the Grace that accepts the consequences of...well, too much of that other kind of "grace.*"

    This pseudo grace has indulged more than is loving toward real hunger and it has placed too much hope in the promises of tomorrow versus the life giving moments of today.

    I don't love what pseudo grace has done to my body these days, but I want to accept it -- because I think it's in the acceptance that I begin to move toward loving my body well again. Toward living in wholly, (and Holy) loving confidence.

    *Does that make any sense? Haha


    Thank you WM!

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  4. Yes, that does make sense! It's definitely through acceptance that we move forward into true confidence and healthy freedom. So glad you are heading in the right direction on this journey!

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