I ran with my sports bra on for the first time today. Now before you go thinking I’m a bra burning radical who likes to run free and wild in the woods, let me finish my story. But like all good stories, this one begins long long ago, in a far away place.
I was fortunate enough to be raised in a family where good self-esteem was fostered. My parents never placed an emphasis on physical beauty; instead we were always praised for our kindness, brains, and attitude about life. We were taught that we could do anything, and we didn't have to have the perfect butt, hair or abs to get far in life. Well, I also didn't live in a bubble my entire life, somewhere down the line, as I left the protective nest of my home I started to see all the negative body images that abound in the "real world." The siren song of "Perfection" calls out to us from every magazine, tv show, billboard ad and website. It is very easy to start second-guessing yourself, and comparing yourself to this bombardment of images. Stomachs can always be flatter, waists smaller, and thighs slimmer. Positive body image is seen as egotistical, and arrogant. You are much more likely to hear "Does this dress make me look fat?" than "I look great tonight!" We are bombarded with messages that our bodies are not good enough, that we should be ashamed of them, that they need to hidden until we emerge from a 60 day “miracle cleanse” with Jennifer Aniston’s rockin bod. This infects the entire country with a sense of debilitating self esteem, and creates an environment which fosters self-destructive behaviors and disordered eating. We are constantly being sucked into the media’s tornado of beauty and perfection, and it creates a perfect storm. Beautiful, well-educated young females start to doubt their bodies, and themselves, and pulling themselves down. There are few among us who have never looked into a mirror and been upset at the image staring back at us. As a future RD, whose life revolves around health, fitness and food, even I feel insecure about my body much of the time. Yes I can run for miles and miles, and I feel great, but I still fear trying on swimsuits.
But I have decided it’s time for this to change. I was on my Sunday long run, and in the heat of summer Boston, my cotton tee-shirt was starting to weigh me down. So I decided to do something I had never done before, for fear of glances, of judgment by strangers. I took off my shirt and ran in my sports bra (full coverage people!!) It felt fine, good even. It was much cooler, and no one jeered at my imperfect 6 pack, quite frankly I don't know if anyone even noticed. I was just another runner on the esplanade. But inside I felt different, I had stepped outside my comfort zone and it had worked out. I had unveiled myself, and it was empowering. I let the world see my strength and my pride.
On the other hand, if you love something you will want to nourish it, respect it, help it to fulfill its greatest potential.
I have decided to block all fat, negative talk from my life. I refuse to tell myself I am inferior. I am a runner. I am a yogi, I am active, I am a student, I am a friend, daughter, sister, and niece. I treat my body well almost all of the time, and it shows. I may not have the perfect 9 pack, but I can run long and strong, I have high energy levels, and feel full of life. Now I am no Gisele, but I my body has it's own stories to tell. My feet have beat enough miles in the pavement to probably travel the world at least once around. My arms can embrace old friends, carry loads of groceries, and lift weights with the boys at the gym. I'm smart and savy and know my way around. I challenge you to bring some more self love and body appreciation into your life!
- Say It-Shout it from the rooftops, or whisper it to yourself in your bathroom mirror. “I am beautiful, I love me, My body is perfect just the way it is.”
- Write It-write yourself a love letter. Graffiti it on your mirror. Make a list of things you love about yourself, both physical, mental and spiritual aspects of the self!
- Live It! Don't put yourself or others down-stay away from negative comments, and always accentuate the positive.
- Support Yourself! Find a friend and make a compliment challenge-commit to creating a positive body image for the both of you.
- Spread the love! Tell your best friend that she is beautiful, just the way she is. Compliment a stranger. Check out Operation Beautiful, and the video Beauty Pressure for inspiration. Don't tolerate criticism of your body or your friends. Stop Fat Talk in its tracks
Monica, Megan Laura and I have decided to start tweeting daily self love with on twitter, join us with the hashtag #selflove!
Tell me something you love about your self!!! Is it your laughter, your arms, your stomach, your kindness???????