I’m all about positive body image. Especially since giving my own body a shit of a hard time during my teens. I love nothing more than to champion the concept of ‘love your body for what it can do, not for how it looks’. I have lived by this gem for nearly 20 years, and it has served me well. But what happens when your body can’t do the things?
Are you allowed to get all superficial for a bit and give it a thumbs up for your spanking booty or flashable rack?
I bloody hope so.
My body has done some pretty cool shit over the years – surfing, karate, running, running in heels, expert level interpretive dance. I even had a (fully clothed) crack at pole dancing once, which I didn’t completely suck at. My eventual discovery of yoga had me doing backbends, headstands and all kinds of twisty moves. My full wheel almost gave my Nan a heart attack.
I loved my body for all this awesome stuff it could do, and then it did the most incredible thing of all – it made two babies. At the same time. Twins, man. Far out. So much body love.
Pregnancy sucked balls, but there was a cute, double baby-shaped light at the end of the crappy tunnel, so I forgave my body for being couch bound for most of it. I also forgave it for taking its sweet time to recover from surgery and months to resume normal exercise. We’re still not on speaking terms when it comes to trampolining, but Pilates is slowly helping to heal that wound. Tighten that muscle. We’re getting there.
My kids are almost four, and since their birth my body has been in a constant cycle of broken/rehab/nearly there/okay for a bit/broken again. Last year, my knees were like broken glass wrapped in skin, I had neck and back pain that had me on the Panadeine Fortes, and my wrists decided to join in for no apparent reason, leaving me unable to put weight on them – a pretty basic requirement for yoga and other fun stuff on all fours. I started to hate my body.
The miracle of my daughters’ creation was way in the past, and my head was now just like, “Big woop, what else you got?” Not fucking much.
It was becoming increasingly difficult to love my body for what it could do. It couldn’t even manage a decent poo most days, so even that was out. But I needed to love it for something, because just loving it for how it looked was wrong, right? I couldn’t go back on my empowering mantra and admit that I needed a bit of superficiality in my life, could I?
I was in a quandary. I needed guidance. A sign.
Enter my new boobs.
I recently turned 40 and my present to myself was a new pair of boobs. No, not the ones you pay for, unless you count all the money I’ve spent at the bakery this year.
Nah, I just put on a few kilos, taking my tits up a weight division. Everything else went up with it and now half my wardrobe doesn’t fit. My bum exploded to near Kimmy proportions, my upper arms went full tuckshop, and mah belleh is now pudding. I’ve also gained the best damn boobs of my life.
The weight gain was not gradual, so I was a little shocked at first. At no point, however, did I look at my new figure through a negative lens. It was just different. A new me to get used to.
My mind did not tell me to change a thing (except to tone up the bingo wings a bit). Twenty years ago I would have hated myself, dieted and over-exercised until I felt passable. That’s when I began the mantra. ‘Love your body for what it can do, not for how it looks’. Over and over, until the attention was completely drawn from the superficial and focus was firmly on the action. But now there was inaction, so how was I supposed to love it?
“Love your body for what it can do, not for how it looks.”
BUT IT CAN’T FUCKING DO ANYTHING RIGHT NOW!!!
“Well fuck, I don’t know. How about your great new tits, then?”
Really? Is that allowed? I’m a feminist you know.
I was looking at my newly cushioned bod in the mirror (playing with my boobs) and wondering why I was okay with it. I had friends going through a similar transformation, hating every bit of it, taking action to make change. Yet there I was, pie in hand, giving my jiggles a big thumbs up.
The mantra was still going through my head, “Love your body for what it can do, not for how it looks.”
And then it dawned on me. I needed that message twenty years ago because it was the only way I was going to show my body some love. It was the quickest way to start loving my body for something, taking the attention away from the negative and looking for positives elsewhere, until I started to love it as a whole.
Which is where I am today. Just loving my body for all it has to offer. Forgiving it when it doesn’t do what I want, by looking for positives elsewhere (tits).
For me, the mantra has become redundant. It served its purpose, but all I need now is the first bit, ‘Love your body’.
I get that this whole body confidence shit can be a bit a tricky. So if you’re struggling to find something to love about yours, I suggest you start small.
The magical body part that, if you show it love, it will love you right back. So go love the shit out of yourselves, ladies.