I have struggled with my own body image pretty much most of my adult life. I was told when I was younger I should be a model because I was tall and thin. So I gave it a try. I landed some mediocre contracts in Washington D.C., but I got rejected in New York. After a couple of years when I moved to Los Angeles, I decided to give modeling another try. I didn't “make” it there either. After all of my failed attempts at trying, I gave up on the idea of modeling when I was about 23 years old. First of all according to most modeling standards, I was too fat at 5'9 and 130 lbs, just one of the reasons amongst others as to why I didn't “make” it. Which leads me to think that I've pretty much been working on being skinner than I really am for a long time now.
Everyone in my life tells me, I'm beautiful, I don’t need to lose weight, etc... It doesn't mean I still don't have a fucked-up perception of myself even though I know I shouldn't. It doesn't mean that I'm not hard on myself for gaining 20 lbs in the past 6 months because I went off of my birth control. Ugh! It is always some thing or some excuse. Like I told a friend the other day, someone can tell you a million times over that you are beautiful but unless you feel it nothing what anyone says will resonate with you.
I look at pictures in Yoga Journal magazine and think I should look like that. I am a yoga teacher, I should be thin like those other yoga teachers. But I don’t look like that. I am not sure I ever will. I guess I am telling you this because there needs to be a huge shift in the way women’s bodies are perceived, and the way we as women perceive ourselves. We look at women that don’t have the magazine body and put them in a whole other category. Why is it all about aspiring to have a body you don’t have? Why not aspire to be the best you no matter what that looks like? Why do we put such a high standard on the way women look? Why don’t men get this sort of attention?
These are all questions we as women should start to ignore and just focus on what our bodies are for, and accept them the way they are. We each have a purpose and need to start taking a bigger stand of who is in charge of our body image. Are you listening to the magazines that tell you to be a certain weight? Is it your family or your friends? If so, then start to say “enough”! All of the people that don’t lift you up in spite of a weight gain or weight loss should be ignored. Who cares if that model on the runway is 110 lbs. Maybe she eats cheeseburgers everyday and that is how she looks. I for one love cheeseburgers.
From now on, I will try to be kind in my moments of weakness. I will smile at my body in the mirror knowing what I hold inside is full of character, love, and strength. And I am asking each one of you to do the same.
Tiffany (RYT 200®) is a student and teacher of yoga living in Baltimore, Maryland.
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