Of all the parts of my body, my legs take the cake for confidence.
I have always liked my legs.
Also, saying that out loud feels weird.
Culturally speaking, we women have been taught (we have taught us, sadface) that talking about ourselves in a positive way is a no no.
…well, wait. FIRST we’re not supposed to talk about ourselves at all. Not directly, anyways. We can talk about how we react to those around us, but not JUST us. SECOND, we’re supposed to talk about everyone else. And what they’re doing and who they’re with and how they parent their kids and how fat they got after the baby, and who their husband is sleeping with and how unhappy the marriage is and how bad their cooking is and every other negative we can think about someone else so we feel better.
THEN, finally, if we run out of things to talk about, before our conversation with whoever-it-is-whatever-person slips into scary silence, we talk about ourselves.
When we do, we’re supposed to pull ourselves apart.
SELF-DESTRUCT SEQUENCE: LAUNCH.
“I look so bad in this dress. I’m still in my maternity jeans. My face is so ugly, my guts are so fat. These are my chunky pants. I am so gross, this is my third donut, you’d think I was a cow, the fat girl inside of me is screaming for joy.”
(Please know I am not being judgy, I have said all of those things.)
If we talk about ourselves and have the audacity to say something nice, we need to make sure it’s not TOO nice. Just kind of, and make sure there’s a caveat.
“I did okay with that project, BUT. I lost a few pounds, BUT. I JUST accomplished this. I KIND OF did that, I contributed, but it’s not my win.”
We’re not supposed to say what we’re good at, we’re supposed to be humble. “Don’t be an arrogant asshole, just be SMALLER.” Talk to me about what you need to work on. Show me how you need improvement. Don’t talk about what you’re good at, don’t tell me how awesome you are. That’s rude. It might make me feel less. JUST BE SMALL. If no one knows what you can do, no one will feel bad for what they can’t. You won’t be offensive, you will be better liked.
No one likes an egotistical, haughty, insolent, lofty, lordy, overbearing bastard.
……or in the case that you’re a woman, no one likes a BITCH.
Ohhhh… if I had a dollar for every time someone called me THAT.
Every one of us wants to be better. We want to stop hating ourselves. We want to be STRONG. Proud. Confident. Self-reliant, worthy, significant. Valuable. If I asked any woman I know “do you want those things,” every single one would answer with a resounding “YES.”
If I told every woman I know, “Okay, now say something GOOD about yourself, what are you great at, what about you is amazing,” 90% of them would answer with “…uuuhhhhhhhh…”
I’m not sure how it happened, but we have disconnected “be amazing” with “say amazing things to ourselves, about ourselves.” We need to do both.
Goodness knows we already know how to feel bad, and we say bad things to ourselves all the time. How do we not see that to accomplish the opposite, the opposite connection must be made?
I’LL JUST PUT THIS HERE, IN CASE YOU MAYBE FORGOT.
The Body Image Project is not just about digging up the seeds of self-hate, it is about planting ones of love. The Project is about owning the bad things, letting go of what holds us back, and owning the good things, too. THAT IS REALITY. Reality is give and take, up and down, yin and yang, vulnerability and confidence.
No matter how many bad things you find, there are good things ALSO, and it is your job to find them. To see them BOTH. All.
Billy Graham once wrote a parable about the nature of man.
In each of us exists a black dog and a white dog. The black dog represents evil, despair, darkness, and hate. The white dog represents all that is good, hope, light, and love. These two creatures are in constant struggle, fighting all the time to dominate our heart and mind.
When a young man asked “Which dog will win,”
it was answered, “It depends on which one I feed.“
I think of this parable often. When that voice of self-destruction and self-hate whispers in the back of my mind, when the words of despair and fear and worthlessness creep into my consciousness, I have a choice to make.
I can listen to them and feed the black dog,
or I can ignore them, say something positive instead, and feed the white one.
Not too long ago, I decided that I was tired of feeling sad. “I AM SO TIRED OF FEELING BAD ABOUT MYSELF.” I was so tired of hate. I was SO TIRED OF FEAR. When we’re kids we shiver and shake at night in the dark, terrified of what’s under the bed. As an adult, I shivered and shook at night, terrified of what was in my own head.
To turn it around, I started talking differently to myself. I rewrote the script for the tape in my head. I started telling myself good things, and I started to be okay with what I said.
No more feeling bad.
No more feeling bad for feeling good.
No more hiding. No more shrinking.
No matter how much you shrink or hold yourself back, it will not make anyone else greater. AND, it’s not your job to make sure everyone else feels okay.
It’s your job to make sure YOU feel okay.
These are my calves. Or as I call them, “baby cows.”
I have been practicing for a long time to say good things about myself, so I can say with all assurance “I LIKE MY LEGS.”
My legs are long and strong, thin and stringy. My friends called me “chicken legs” when I was in school. I did not care. Even at a young age I liked my calves.
No matter how much I work out, no matter how much weight I gain, my calves are almost always shaped like this. They are CONSISTENT. (If you have ever struggled with body dysmorphia, you will know how much it’s possible to appreciate “consistent.”) The rest of my body changes all the time, but from feet to knees it stays almost exactly the same.
Before I found my confident voice, before I was well practiced at saying good things about myself, I would also negate my self-assured remark.
“I need to shave.” (I do, it’s been four days.)
“I have fat inside my knees.” (I do. There’s a picture of it here.)
“My feet are huge. And dirty.” (They are, and they are.)
“My ankles are all scarred up from stupid flea bites, I hope no one asks because I hate to say I had fleas.” (They are, and I HATE FLEAS. Stupid cat.)
“Holy varicose veins.” (Yep.)
“The hem lines on the legs of my shorts are uneven.” (They are. That’s what happens when you wear clothes out of the trash. Not kidding. Found them in the dumpster.)
“I fell into the tub, trying to take this picture.” (I did. Pretty standard amount of derp.)
“My bath mat is crooked, and that washcloth is mostly dirty.” (It is and it is.)
AND HOW DUMB IS IT that of all the wonderful things about my legs, I would neeeeeeed to negate my positive energy SO BADLY, I feel tempted to point out the dumb crooked bath mat and the irrelevant, dirty washcloth hanging on the edge of the tub?
We are so hardwired to self-deprecate, we can’t NOT do it without significant, intentional, purposeful practice of the contrary.
AND WE MUST PRACTICE.
We must FIGHT.
We must treat that voice in our heads that picks us apart like a mortal, villainous archenemy. We must treat it like CANCER, and WE MUST CUT IT OUT.
Zero giving in.
Take that voice and choke it out.
It’s time to push back, my friend. It’s time to fight for your greatness. It’s time to feed that white dog in your heart, give it all your strength and support, and let it rescue you from the dark.
You are worth it, just as you are.
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Live every day like it’s your last one. Find yourself, own your truth, and change your whole world. Forge Depth, and never stop digging!