Health & Well-Being
i am you...and you are me.
What's up everyone? It's been a while, but I'm coming at you with a much needed post for myself and SO many people I've talked to during this time of isolation. Today we're going to talk about just how much pretty really does hurt. And it's okay if you don't identify as "woman". To all my beautiful, hannnnnndsome and wealthy....and fluffy bruthas, this post is for you, too. That's right...this post is all about our bodies. Big bodies, to be exact. And if you're small, come on into our world. Let us enter into yours. Because we're inclusive here...and we all have our bouts with our skin, our curves (or lack of), our rolls...So tell me, friend...you're at home...and maybe you're isolated with family...maybe you're isolated with an S.O....maybe you're with a roommate...or maybe you're alone. Tell me...how do you feel in your body?
So, before we get into this...I feel it's only right to give fair and transparent background information about MY body. I grew up in, what I now know to be, a "fat-phobic" home. I was always a hefty child, and my family always had a way of reminding me of the fact- by either enabling me (practically stuffing our good down South food down my throat) or criticizing me by way of unwanted "fitness" tips, hurtful comments, or questions alluding to "Should you really be eating that?" or "Why are you going back for a second plate?" The combination of the aforementioned laid a foundation of a rather...difficult...relationship with my body. Never quite feeling beautiful at home...I definitely didn't feel beautiful outside of home either when all I saw growing up was thin, pretty girls...and Beyonce..and Kim Kardashian...and Hayden Panettiere...and Miley Cyrus...and so many other smaller bodies on TV. So, to be "small", essentially, was what I thought I had to be...in order to be pretty. When I lost almost 60 pounds in college (drastically), I thought I had finally done it. I was gonna go back my junior year and be on top of the world. All the boys were going to like me. My problems would be solved, right? Wrong. I was still looking in the mirror and all I saw was a big body, even at a size 14 and under 190 lbs (which in hindsight, is quite small for me). I was kicking my workouts into overkill, trying to build what I thought was the perfect body. I looked great, I did...but it still...was never enough for me. Let's fast forward a few years, and here I am now...I float between a size 14/16 dress size now, and 16/18 in pants/jeans. And my bigger body now? She has her days, but for the most part....her self-worth (emphasis on self-worth, NOT self-esteem) is consistent now.
Most of us have features of ourselves we'd like to change. Maybe it's crooked teeth, lighter skin, smaller arms, wider hips, hyper-pigmentation, a slimmer waistline, or if you're like me...slimmer hips. And though some of these can be adjusted and "fixed", I'm led to believe *inserts Maybelline*..."Maybe you're born with it". We can fret over our imperfections, but our imperfections do not and should not decrease our sense of worth in ourselves...and definitely should not interfere with our daily lives....like it did with mine then. Like it does with mine now...when sometimes thoughts float in the back of my head like "Should I be eating this?"....or "I'm never going to lose weight" or the famous one-"Are they looking at/judging my body?"
I used to think about my body flaws each and every day I'd look in the mirror. I'd cry some nights in bed (or on the floor), because I hated ME (can you believe this?). I thought in order to be beautiful...in order to be validated...that the quote "Beauty is only skin deep" was bullshit...and dammit I needed to be light skin...I needed to be skinny...and THEN...I'd be pretty. And furthermore...my perception of my body was larger than was shown to be on camera, in pictures,;etc.
Clearly, I know now...I was wrong.
The difference between then and now, though is...we're inside. And inside...is much different, right? I mean before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was able to get up, go to the gym, workout, dance in the mirror after working out, and put on just about anything and feel pretty good about myself...But then...BUT THEN...we got confined to our homes. And it was great at first...I was working out, being gentle, and making more room for self-care. But, then days went by. And months later, I'm waking up in pajamas, working from home in my pajamas, not taking my bonnet off, and looking in the mirror...and who is this looking back at me?
"When did these rolls and hips come back?"
So, I ask again...how do you feel in your body? Because if isolation is allowing you to CRUSH your workout goals, GREAT. I am so happy for you (okay, maybe I'm a little jealous too). But, if you've fell OFF your fitness plan and you're looking like this to YOU...
TRUST ME. Sis or bro...I see you.
And if you have a big body, these type of feelings can be hard...especially when you're looking at dozens of people post meme's about NOT wanting to come out of quarantine 600-lbs and you're like- Well damn bitch, what does that mean for me?
Being "hyper-aware" of our big bodies is nerve-wracking. But, can I challenge you to do something?
Dress it up, make it real for me,...and take a selfie. I want you to see just how BEAUTIFUL your quarantine body is, was, and will be whenever we get to our sense of new normalcy.
If you need help seeing your body in more positive light each day, I want you to ask yourself the following question:
How am I going to show up for myself today?
This will vary for each person. But, when you ask yourself this question, you're essentially asking- What is going to make me feel beautiful today? How can I feel good about myself? What can I do to be more gentle? For me, I just (literally, "just" as in like this past weekend) realized I need to start actually getting dressed again. I need to get dressed and devote the same level of attention to my skin/beauty routine as I was doing pre-pandemic. So, I'm going to do my makeup and get my nails done. Because nothing feels more ICY to me *insert Sasweetie* than looking good with a beat face AND some fly ass nails.
Men, maybe showing up for yourself is also getting dressed (and not wearing sweats/baller shorts)....maybe it's rocking those new sneakers around the house, that you were planning to wear outside...maybe it's applying for a new job....reading new books....maybe it's mapping out your new fitness plan....or meal plan.... or drinking more water....or actually starting a skincare routine... or brushing your teeth twice a day with charcoal paste...or being more intentional about flossing....or sliding in my DM's....Any of these work ;)
The point is...we're more than our bodies. And that can be easier said when alllllll you see is the opposite...when everyone seems so snatched...when everyone is on social media doing "fitness check-ins" or on the bandwagon with the next fad-diet or fitness plan...when Lizzo is shaking her ass online AGAIN...and that damn Kehlani is posting another fire picture?!
Give yourself a break. If you're not feeling so hot today, it's okay...don't spiral into any negative thoughts about your stomach, thighs, bum (or lack of). It's okay to not be happy or positive ALL the time about your body, BUT....it's never okay to put yourself down. Chin up, you're amazing JUST. THE. WAY. YOU. ARE.
Walks do matter. I think sometimes we think that "fitness" is all about crazy cardio, HIIT, Cross-fit,;etc. But just because walking is "low-impact", does not mean it is NO impact. In fact, believe it or not, I know plenty of people who have lost weight (if that is your goal) by JUST walking (and eating healthy of course). Much like any other exercise, walking also has added benefits. So, just make sure you dress your body in clothes to breathe, perhaps get up early, and hit the pavement....even if you can only start with 10 to 15 minutes.
Ask your body what it needs. Some people asked me what this means, but it means how it is read. Sit down, in a quiet space,...and ask your body what it needs. It goes without saying that some of us treat self-care as a luxury, when it should not be. It's essential. So 5min each day...ask yourself- "What do I need?" Maybe it's just those five minutes away from your kids, your S.O, your family, your parents, your siblings,;etc...to just breathe. Maybe it's that 15min walk from above. Maybe it's to fight that sugar craving. Maybe it's a bath. And hey, maybe you're full..and it's nothing. But, check in with yourself and your body each day. Who's going to take care of YOU if you don't?
DON'T COMPARE. And I mean it...don't. Because if I'm being quite honest, comparison is more than likely the root of what is distorting our body image. No bodies are meant and will ever look the same. And some bodies are BOUGHT (but that's a different post), so baby let's just say you have a blueprint. Kill this...and the scale in your bathroom. I mean it...throw it out (and whatever BMI ideals society has instilled in you).
Get pretty. Is it new glam looks you want to try? New hair styles? New nail designs? New face masks? Well what other time to do it, than now...inside? Whatever makes you FEEL beautiful....do it. Do it now. Do it everyday. Because just because no one is "physically" seeing us....doesn't mean you stop showing up to the party (life) as the best possible version of you. Everyday. ALL DAY.
And most importantly....
Reach out and have fun. If you need help getting back to feeling good about your body, don't be afraid to reach out to safe people who support you. If you need help trying to jumpstart your "fit" plans, grab your friends...hit the workouts together. Hit the workouts virtually. But have fun. If the pandemic isn't showing us anything else...life's too short not to.
If none of the above works for you and your body image is interfering with your daily life, many therapists or offering "teletherapy" options during the pandemic. Find a therapist near you on Psychology Today.
Big body. Small body. Short body. Tall body. I hope you read this and begin or continue to take steps in accepting yourself as you are. We aren't perfect, no....but we're WORTH it.
Hold yourself to reasonable standards, set realistic expectations, and never....ever stop showing up for YOU.
From my heart to yours, a proud big body...with 32 FLAVORS OF THAT BOOTYLICIOUS BUBBLE GUM.