Don’t let your mind bully your body.
I am beyond thankful someone came up with that quote and for pinterest for sharing the heck out of it. To be absolutely honest, this is my daily mantra: Don’t let your mind bully your body. Those seven simple words mean so much to someone like me that struggles with positive body image – It’s not my body that has the issue, it’s my mind. It’s the way my mind tells me, “I’m not pretty enough. I’m not toned enough. I have too much cottage cheese on my legs. I have too much of a double chin”. My mind is a bully and it has been for the last 13 years of my life.
Growing up I was very athletic. I was a top competitor in almost any sport I played in. Because sports were, quite literally, my whole life in grade school and junior high, I had the body of an athlete; I was toned, thick and strong. Believe it or not, I was the badass center in basketball – you didn’t mess with me 😉 But it was my 7th grade year that I started realizing how much different I looked compared to other girls. I started feeling ugly next to girls I’ve always hung out with, and previous to this moment, I had never compared myself or my body to anyone. Well, instead of reminding myself that everybody’s body is different, I took matters into my own hands.
Now, I didn’t cut out food completely, but I wasn’t taking in enough calories for my active lifestyle. For example, in the winter between 7th grade and 8th grade, I was on three basketball teams – meaning, some nights I had three practices. With that amount of practice time adding up to around 6 hours, I’d only eat an apple with peanut butter for dinner. Or an english muffin with string cheese. That was it. I was essentially starving myself because I didn’t like my body.
Over the course of a year, I went from around 125 pounds to just 98. I lost my period, I became obsessed with weight and my looks, and I never found the happiness with myself nor my body that I thought would come from being skinny.
I was diagnosed with “sports anorexia” (for more information on sports anorexia, click https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/athletes-and-eating-disorders.) – which was a misdiagnosis, for the most part. The pressure from sports was not the problem, it had nothing to do with my involvement with sports. But to be honest, sports were a vehicle I used to lose weight and lose it fast.
It wasn’t until high school when I met (my BFFFFFF) Brianna Hobbs, that I learned weight and body image are not the end-all, be-all (and more importantly, that chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup is DAMN good and I cannot say no to a bowl of it). At that point, I started viewing my body differently – I decided it wasn’t about the number on the scale, but the fact that I was healthy. I went from thinking that skinny would create a positive body image, to believing that being healthy would do the trick. Healthy = positive body image. I gained some/most of the weight I had lost and started eating a normal diet. I was now at a healthy weight level and intaking the correct nutrients for my growing body.
You’re probably thinking, “Just because you’re okay with the number on the scale, doesn’t mean you’re not still bullying your body”. And you’re right. I may have ‘fixed’ one part physically, but the real issue was my mentality. Like I said before, my body was NEVER the issue, it was always my mind.
I wish at the end of this post I could tell you that I’m 100% happy with the skin I’m in and that I don’t bully my body anymore, but sadly that’s not true. I still struggle every day. It may not be like it was 13 years ago, but I still have a long way to go before I can say that I’m no longer my biggest bully. In this long process, I have found one thing that helps.
For me, when it comes to rewiring my mind to body positivity, I look to other women for advice. Here are a few quotes that really hit home for me:
FIERCE WOMEN WITH FIERCE MINDS
“I think a large part of what fuels my feminine identity is standing in opposition with societal roles as to “what” a women should be. I believe most of our insecurities stem from what we are told we should look like, act like, think like, ect. Once you become aware of the impact this makes on your life, you can consciously push yourself away from those stigmas and simply be you.
You’ll notice things like not looking at yourself in the mirror all day, or not thinking about your appearance in a room full of people.You’ll start to live healthier too. You begin to care about you body not for the image, but to feel good about being you. It’s liberating to move through life as the women you are meant to be instead of someone else. You can always pick up on the women in the world who have figured this out.”
“I think of my body as a tool to do the stuff I need, but not the end-all, be-all of my existence.”
– Lena Dunham
“I look my best after an entire hair and makeup team has spent hours perfecting me. I FEEL my best when I haven’t looking in a mirror for days and I’m doing things that make me happy.”
“I think happiness is what makes you pretty. Period. Happy people are beautiful. They become like a mirror and they reflect that happiness.”
“Just because my body was developed for a purpose other than fucking millionaires, doesn’t mean it’s masculine. I think it’s femininely badass as fuck, because there isn’t’ a muscle in my body that isn’t developed for a purpose”
– Ronda Rousey
“It makes me sad to hear girls constantly putting themselves down. We have these unbelievably high expectations of ourselves, when actually we’re human beings and our bodies have a function.”
“I had to grow to love my body. I did not have a good self-image at first. Finally it occurred to me, I’m either going to love me or hate me. And I chose to love myself. Then everything kind of sprung from there. Things that I thought weren’t attractive became sexy. Confidence makes you sexy.”
YOU CAN BE FIERCE, TOO
If every person started viewing themselves and their bodies differently by respecting, appreciating and loving them, the cultural norm to look and feel a certain way will diminish – and the norm would be to embrace each other and your differences. It starts with me. It starts with you.
All in all, we need to remind ourselves that ‘what’s on the outside’ doesn’t matter.
See below for a list of things that actually matter….
- YOU love yourself for who YOU are
- Being a nice person to yourself and to others
- Spreading love and kindness – everywhere all the time
- Being the best version of you – whatever that may entail
- Finding true happiness within yourself and helping others find theirs
- And most importantly, having the courage to tell your mind to “Shut the hell up” anytime it starts to bully you
Anyway, to wrap things up, I’m just going to get real frank with you guys – your body is just a package that your soul needs to be alive. Your body is a tool to live, it’s not meant to look a certain way, it’s only meant to help you do the things that make you happy. Show your body some love, it needs it dearly. And yes, this is me talking to myself. But feel free to take my advice as well.
LOVE THE SKIN YOU’RE IN.
Peace. Love. Positive Body Image.
XO. The Welcome Woman