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Body Acceptance: Loving My Body, Old and New

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
3/10/2011 4:59 AM   :  210 comments   :  36,304 Views

By Beth Donovan aka ~Indygirl

I canít remember ever liking my body as a child or a teen. In my 20s, if I did like it, even for a second, it was only because I had ďstarved wellĒ that day. In my 30s I definitely hated my body and in my 40s I was bigger than ever, weighing in at 460 at my highest. Oddly enough, itís in my 40s that Iíve started accepting my body more.

I donít know exactly what has changed, but my body is no longer subject to my rules of perfectionism. I have, in fact, granted myself permission to have a bad hair day, an ďI feel bloated dayĒ or a day when Iím just off my game. I used to stand in front of the mirror for an hour primping and preening, having to look just perfect before I would leave the house. If I couldnít achieve what I thought was needed, I was bad enough off about my self image that I would call off school and even work. I would cry and starve myself the whole day in an attempt to make up for my failure.

What did I see in the mirror that was so wrong? I was fat. I hated my hair. I had a zit. My mascara was odd. You see, nothing else could be wrong if I was fat. I had to make up for it in every other way. I had to be perfect to overcompensate for being fat. I needed perfect grades, perfect makeup, perfect clothes, and never to make mistakes. Letís face it: I set myself up for the failure and depression I suffered with expectations like that.

Where did those expectations come from? From a very young age, my mother and her family rode me about my weight. My mother said she didnít want me to suffer by being overweight as she did, but her tactics were very cruel. Name calling, pointing at parts of my body and asking ďWhat is that?Ē and commenting about whether I was or was not eating were prime examples. No matter what I did, she was not pleased. The rest of the family just kept lecturing, taking their diet pills and starving, setting a great example for my bulimic teens and 20s. Iíll save that story for another blog.

How did I go from the 200ís and hating my body to the 300ís and accepting my body more? Therapy helped, so did losing the toxic people who made me hate my body in the first place. I really believe we donít loathe our bodies naturally. Children donít hate their bodies until somebody points out that theirs are different. I think itís a learned behavior. If it is learned, it can be relearned a different way, a healthier way.

First I lost a relationship that was fairly toxic to me. At the time, however, I would have done anything for this person, who reminded me constantly of my weight problem. One time he even point blank asked me ďSo when are you going to look like a cheerleader?Ē Still, thinking I was in the wrong, I began a bulimic cycle that took years of therapy to undo.

I also lost my grandmother, who was diet pill happy and could not resist telling me about how I would be so much prettier if I were slender. My mother also passed away, and I no longer had anyone telling me how I should feel about my body, except strangers who take it upon themselves to belittle others. I miss my mother and grandmother greatly, but I donít miss the pressure they put on me to be thin. That pressure made it virtually impossible to love my body.

Tips to love your body now:

  1. Donít let others be your mirror unless they are a positive one.
  2. Find what you like about your body and play it up.
  3. Spend time admiring things about yourself in the mirror and in pictures.
  4. Do things that make you feel beautiful.
  5. Protect yourself from toxic people who belittle your beauty.
  6. Avoid comparing bodies.
  7. Relearn to love yourself.
  8. Participate in things that make you feel good about your body.
  9. Discover your style and appreciate it.
  10. If you canít find yourself, reinvent yourself.


Just like you learned to hate your body, you can learn to love it again. Personally, I got a tattoo on my right shoulder of some Victorian flowers that signify that I will no longer wait to live--life is happening now, not 10 pounds from now. It reminds me to love what I have and move on in freedom, stopping to smell the flowers along the way.

Have you learned to love your body, or are you still struggling to accept yourself for who you are now? Do you have any advice for others who might be struggling?


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Comments

  • 210
    Aaaaaaaaaaah Beth! I just found this blog, more than a year after it was written. God must have known I wasn't ready for it before now! I have saved your blog to read again and think about. I have a very private blog forming in my mind .... THANK YOU! - 5/12/2012   4:33:11 PM
  • 209
    Excellent blog. We have to love ourselves first, find ourselves worthy of love. Then we can give love and we will receive love.

    Barb - 3/29/2012   10:14:33 AM
  • 208
    Love it....... I have always struggled with accepting me for me......thin,fat,long hair, short hair, straight hair,kinky hair..... I have never been comfortable in my own skin...now in my 40's I am definitely trying a lot harder to get there.....Thanks for the blog - 12/29/2011   10:28:13 PM
  • 207
    I am learning to love me...which is better than loving my body or a body part.
    The thing about getting older....hopefully you gain wisdom and focus on what is important. Being healthy is beautiful! - 12/4/2011   10:34:04 PM
  • 206
    Sounds very familiar! Thanx for this blog! - 11/30/2011   4:57:36 AM
  • 205
    I love my body more now than I did in high school, which was 24 lbs. ago! I've been trying to accept my body for over a year, and I'm getting a lot better at it! - 8/3/2011   10:37:41 AM
  • 204
    Thanks so much for your advice in this blog. It helped me a lot. It is just what I needed to hear. - 7/20/2011   1:36:27 PM
  • 203
    Great Blog. Reading what you have written made me acknowledge a self-deprecating habit I need to overcome. I get so angry with myself if my reflection in the mirror isn't up to whatever standard I've arbitrarily set for myself. If my hair isn't quite right, I fuss and frown and tell myself I look awful. I'll angrily change from one blouse to another and then another searching for one that, in my mind, makes me look thinner. I'll convince myself I don't want to go out... even for something I've been looking forward to and will enjoy.

    This crap has to stop. Right now.

    THANKS FOR HELPING ME SEE A BEHAVIOR THAT IS HARMFUL AND POINTLESS, AND THAT I HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE RIGHT NOW. - 7/4/2011   9:50:52 AM
  • 202
    Terrific blog! you hit it right on the mark! I saved this to my favorites both to inspire myself and to show to my 17 yr. old who hates herself no matter what I say. She is beautiful but convinced she is ugly, yeah she could lose some weight but who cares? I just want her to be healthy and happy with herself. Thank you for sharing your story you inspire us all. - 5/30/2011   9:13:05 AM
  • 201
    Good tips although I'm still struggling to accept the wrinkles and sagging skin that comes with old age. :-( - 5/21/2011   9:22:05 AM
  • 200
    I try to look at myself naked every day and at least accept my body without judgement and if possible, admire my body, just as it is. - 5/20/2011   11:34:26 AM
  • 199
    Re: "I will no longer wait to live--life is happening now, not 10 pounds from now." I absolutely LOVE this! Thank you for sharing your insight and thoughts. You are truly and inspiration. - 5/4/2011   6:07:09 AM
  • SEWINGLADY145
    198
    Very interesting comments. It is nice to hear another point of view. I agree with what the blogger is say. I myself sometimes tend to be one of the people who harp on weight, myself and others. - 5/2/2011   2:33:30 PM
  • DANI_HOLT
    197
    Thanks for sharing your story. You bring up valid points about loving oneself and getting rid of those that are only supplying negativity to your life. I will definelty use your tips inorder to learn to love myself! - 5/2/2011   2:12:34 PM
  • 196
    awesome blog. you are so right about ditching those that make you feel bad. We are on the same road, except I am just getting on at 32.

    Cheers to loving yourself the way you are. It makes life so much better. - 5/2/2011   8:45:57 AM
  • 195
    Wonderful blog! Good for you for accepting yourself for who you are - that's something that many of us struggle with. ((hugs)) - 5/1/2011   5:25:28 PM
  • MR21965
    194
    Great blog! - 5/1/2011   10:54:49 AM
  • RUNESHADOW
    193
    Terrific blog from a terrific blogger. You rock! - 4/30/2011   10:06:50 PM
  • 192
    Fantastic article. I will remind myself of these things daily. Thank-you. - 4/30/2011   10:50:51 AM
  • REBECKY44
    191
    I love your blogs but it is so hard for me to relate. Maybe that's why I love reading them. I sit with my mouth wide opened, wondering... how could that be? I was always thin, being fat is a new experience for me that seemed to come on suddenly, or so it seemed. It was like the Fat Fierry struck me with her wond in the middle of the night... and Poof! I know when we grow older there are changes, but I never expected this. I know that when I look in the mirror I don't like my body, but it's still MY body and loving it is what will make the difference. Thank you for making me see this more clearly.
    Hugs! Becky - 4/26/2011   10:25:01 AM
  • 190
    I love your blogs so much, PLEASE keep writing them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I think we need a Coach Beth Fanclub. - 4/25/2011   2:33:21 PM
  • 189
    Thank you for a touching, empowering, awesome blog. I'm happy you are growing along the journey of life and appreciating all the moments along the way. I wish you continued blessings and new discoveries about yourself along the way. - 4/17/2011   8:54:50 PM
  • 188
    Learning to love my loose flabby skin. Guess it comes with the weight lose. - 4/17/2011   8:39:07 PM
  • 187
    Reading this today has inspired me to WRITE a blog I've been thinking about - "Who is that thin girl in the mirror"? The fascinating thing is that I weight 20 to 30 pounds more now than I weighed in my twenties when I saw a fat girl in the mirror. I don't know if its age, self acceptance, or what, but I LOVE who I see in the mirror now!! I'll take being older any old day - because now I can love myself just as I am!! - 4/17/2011   1:36:29 PM
  • 186
    VERY GOOD TIPS! THANX SO MUCH! - 4/7/2011   1:02:53 PM
  • 185
    Thank you Beth for a wonderful blog!

    My mother was living with my oldest Sister in PA due to Alzhimers. When it was decided to place her in an Alzhimers unit I went back to PA to help with the move. As soon as she saw me there was a big smile on her face and she said Susie it's so good to see you. When she called me Susie I knew she knew who I was. If she had called me Susan that was how I introduced myself to her when she asked me who I was. The next morning we packed the car and were heading back to WI. First we stopped off to have breakfast. While waiting for our food Mom looked at me and said Susie I am so happy to see you I just didn't think I would see so much of you. I couldn't get mad it was just so typical mother. - 4/4/2011   10:53:24 AM
  • 184
    My mother and your mother could have been sisters. Only my mother was not quite as bad as yours. When I got married I had to contend with a MIL who thought the same way as my mother. The thing of it is looking back I was not fat maybe according to their standards but looking at pictures from back then i looked pretty darn good. They are both gone now and so is the pressure. Myself I made darn sure that I never made my children feel the way I felt about myself after hearing their comments. Great blog Beth as always.! - 4/3/2011   12:53:58 PM
  • 183
    Wow - what a great blog. Thanks so much for the tips, I'm going to write them down. - 3/30/2011   12:12:16 AM
  • 182
    I loved my body until I was 40. At that point, I also disliked the men in my life. I didn't care about losing weight if it kept the men away. Then, at 55 I realized that I didn't have to carry around 200 pounds of fat to keep bad men away--I could simply reject that negative attention. Now I'm working on the new self image. - 3/28/2011   9:17:16 AM
  • 181
    Great blog!

    I also started loving my body more when I got a tattoo I had been wanting to get for so long. It's on my side and I had wanted to wait until I lost weight, looked trimmer, and was just skinnier overall because I thought it would look better. This was not enough of a motivator for me, though. I finally bit the bullet and got the tattoo. . .looking at it and wanting to show it to people (which makes me lift my shirt and expose one of my chubby areas) motivates me in my weight-loss journey because it's a part of my body that I always want to look at and I want it to look good. I take care of it the best and in turn I want to take care of the rest of my body.

    Tattoos aren't for everybody. . .but they do serve as permanent positive visual cues and allow us to love at least one part of our body. So if anyone's thinking of getting one but putting it off until they lose that next 20 or 30 lbs. . .why wait? It might just help motivate you to the end of your weight-loss journey and to maintaining your goal weight! - 3/26/2011   6:11:17 PM
  • MASHALAZ
    180
    Wow! Very insightful. Indygirl, you have a lot of soul. - 3/22/2011   2:07:30 PM
  • 179
    I think it's so terrible that anyone's family would treat them that way. They're the ones who are supposed to love and accept you unconditionally. My mom has struggled with her weight for many years, and I know she doesn't want to see me having the same problems. She's made little comments over the years, but nothing purposely hurtful. We've had a very rough relationship, but now she and I are in this together... she's doing it her way, and I mine, but for the first time we're both seeing success. - 3/22/2011   11:32:35 AM
  • DJSAWALL
    178
    Thank you for your great article. Once upon a time, my best friend was a bag of chips! Now, between TOPS and Sparks, I have worked on my weight loss, losing from my 224 lbs. to about 180 todate. Now, at the age of 75, if I had a magic iron, to get rid of all of these wrinkles...well, that would be another story...LOL - 3/21/2011   8:12:26 AM
  • AHEALTHIERME44
    177
    Thanks for sharing..you are an inspiration! - 3/20/2011   9:23:11 PM
  • 176
    My blog post today was inspired in part by a photo that is now my profile pic -- look who's in my mirror NOW! :)

    Thank you for reminding us that who we are is so much more than what the mirror or the toxic people in our lives might lead us to believe. - 3/19/2011   11:09:16 AM
  • 175
    I think sometimes those around us think they're saying those hurtful things believing they're doing it for our best/out of love. But often times, I think it actually comes out of their own hurt & own misplaced body image. I try to be compassionate about that, but it is hard when it hurts and compounds the hurts I inflict on myself by my self loathing.

    Something I've been reminding myself the past couple months is that my body is the temple of my soul, the where God lives in me. If I can't do it for myself yet, I'd sure love to make my "temple" as beautiful as possible for my God (although He probably already considers it beautiful, as is).

    Much as I hate still being so heavy in my 40's, I do really prefer my 40's to any other decade so far. It is a time when we learn to let go of what we no longer need to carry, relax, accept ourselves & hopefully learn self compassion & forgiveness.

    Thanks for a great, thought-provoking blog. - 3/19/2011   9:40:06 AM
  • HABSAH61
    174
    Nice Blogs....well, I really agree to the tips:-) - 3/19/2011   3:39:15 AM
  • 173
    beautiful article! thanks. perceiving one's body in a positive way has such a wonderful effect on many other aspects of life..... from the dressing room at Macy's to being alone naked with a partner. It's a challenge to look in the mirror and not see an aging frump emerging.... despite a rather busy and food-deprived existence. however, other better friends, both bigger and smaller can reassure with some convincing arguments that where I am is just fine... and it's me who is the worst judge of myself. - 3/19/2011   1:19:31 AM
  • 172
    You are an inspiration to us all!!
    You have given us all a big "Spark"
    - 3/18/2011   11:24:50 PM
  • LILSNOWPEA
    171
    Thank you for being so open and honest with your story. I struggle with this everyday, even without the toxic people you encountered in your life. Your bravery speaks volumes! - 3/18/2011   3:09:54 PM
  • THEESLADY
    170
    Thanks for sharing...good info!!! - 3/18/2011   12:32:06 PM
  • 169
    so true. no matter what we look like, we can't be happy unless we accept what we are. Thank you so much for your story and the inspiration - 3/18/2011   12:02:03 AM
  • 168
    I have always struggled with this! - 3/17/2011   11:12:38 PM
  • 167
    "This is a really good Blog"
    I'm learning to love my body again I have come so far on losing weight and learning to exercise and like it but I always focus on the things that I hate about my body instead of the good things my husband says I need to look at the good and stop focusing on the things I dont like because I look and feel tones better then I did when I started..Thanks so much for this Blog!And for being here Sparks! - 3/16/2011   7:22:57 PM
  • 166
    Great Blog! It reaffirms that we are not alone when dealing with toxic people. I have toxic family members who belittle my efforts. When this happens I go to my husband for support or post on SparkPeople.
    We are all beautiful. It doesn't matter what size or color or ethnic background we are. It is what is in each of us that shines forth. - 3/16/2011   1:42:53 PM
  • SHARON03GRIZ
    165
    I love it! Thank you for sharing. - 3/16/2011   1:24:30 PM
  • 164
    I like how you say "oddy enough, it's in my 40's that I've started accepting my body". I think a large part of that is the learning that comes along with living. Let's face it, things that threw us in a tizz at 20 wouldn't even make us blink today. We know today's crisis is just part of life and will pass. There's some comfort in knowing you've survived before. That knowledge and comfort help us "ease up" throughout the years- Not give up!
    thanks for sharing!
    - 3/16/2011   12:39:21 PM
  • 163
    You have to be little to belittle. ~ John Murphy

    I just read this quote right before I read this blog. So fitting. Thanks for the words! - 3/16/2011   12:30:01 PM
  • 162
    Thank you for sharing this. I've been trying to deal with the issue of my husband telling me that he is no longer attractive to me because of my weight. Each day I wonder when I will be attractive enough. I shouldn't have to. Although, frankly I agreed with him at the time, I am on my way to becoming much healthier and have since lost 13 pounds (so far) out of the 50 total that I'd like to shed. Even still, his words have weighed heavily on my self-esteem. He was my best friend before we were married - how could he do this? He apologized for being so hurtful but he "was just being honest". I wanted to let you know that reading entries like this one has been very helpful, inspiring and motivating for me in trying to piece myself back together again. Thank you. - 3/16/2011   11:22:35 AM
  • PARISTASAI
    161
    How encouraging! My friend who is a beautician and the Merle Norman lady we go to are good mirrors. They are experts in the field of beauty, I am going to listen to them! - 3/16/2011   10:43:28 AM

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