“It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
That’s me” – Maya Angelou
The excerpt above is from a poem called ‘Phenomenal Woman’ by one of my favourite poets- Maya Angelou. A poet, civil rights activist and leader in her own right, Maya Angelou shows us that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and we must embrace and celebrate the body we are in.
A lot of us spend way too much time on glossy magazines, other people’s Instagram feeds while we subconsciously criticize and compare our bodies to airbrushed renditions on the media. We fail to realize just how beautiful, perfect and unique we are- irrespective of our size, measurements or the love handles. Photoshopping, cropping and airbrushing make dimples, crows feet, cellulite, fine lines, scars and wrinkles disappear with just a click but these imperfections are what make us unique and beautiful.
When I ask my friends if they love their bodies- there’s often a sullen pause because not many of us have really asked ourselves the question. We train too hard, eat too little and wear far too much make up and product in an attempt to fit in. Beauty has no standard and every body is beautiful in its own right. Social media, Instagram feeds have made it harder and harder for us to embrace our bodies. Everyone is constantly striving to achieve the perfect tan, the dreadful thigh gap, sculpted legs and of course the most coveted flat belly. This can be particularly dangerous for younger girls and even boys who are impressionable and don’t realize the ramifications of what they are doing to their bodies. They get moody, irritable, become unsocial and reserved and often end up with either anorexia, bulimia or orthorexia (eating too clean). A lot of teenagers steer clear of meals and drink juice only cleanses popularized by Oprah, Beyonce and Gwyneth Paltrow without the supervision of an adult or medical professional which can have devastating consequences on the heart, organs, skin and the bones.
I grew up in an all girls boarding school where people tried practically everything to stay skinny because to them being skinny meant looking good. While some of us didn’t succumb to the pressures of looking like our peers, a lot of us ate too little, worked out too hard and trained far too much- causing damage not just to our self esteems but our bodies too.
I, too, have struggled over the years with finding the right balance between loving your body and worrying too much. Having a balanced attitude towards diet, emotional wellbeing and fitness has helped me to transform my body and love it. I have an athletic built that allows me to put on muscle relatively quickly. Instead of shunning it and hiding behind baggy sweatshirts and loose clothes, I’ve learnt how to embrace it and dress right for my body type so I look and feel my best. To read my personal journey- http://scribbler.co/r/5353c76adb043cd2a0f43003/diary-of-an
While, it’s perfectly healthy to worry about your health and exercise restraint on calorific drinks, alcohol, sugar and processed foods; it’s very important to accept your body and love it just the way it is. Our bodies are beautiful and dynamic and constantly changing. So let go of your inhibitions and insecurities and embrace your body. Don’t be afraid of what people will think. Look after yourself and spend time styling your outfits, wearing comfortable lingerie, clothes that fit well and flatter your body shape. Loving your body means complimenting yourself when you look into the mirror every morning or allowing yourself to indulge in that glass of vino or a slice of cheesecake over the weekend without feeling guilty afterwards. Loving yourself comes with the understanding that no two bodies are identical and that you need to embrace the skin you are in without comparing yourself to others. There is nothing sexier than a confident woman who loves herself and the skin she’s in and you also come across more assertive and self assured.
Here are a few guidelines that will enable you to have a healthier relationship with your body-
- Spend 15-20 minutes daily doing meditation or to practice mindfulness and express gratitude for all the blessings you’ve been given. Practicing the art of gratitude will give you renewed perspective on life.
- Spend 30-45 minutes every morning doing restorative yoga poses, easy asanas and sun salutations followed by a few moments of pranayama and most importantly, shravasana or rest. Your body will thank you.
- Atleast twice a week, engage your body in a HIIT workout (High intensity interval training). It’s the perfect way to tone your glutes, abs and thighs, get rid of unwanted fat and is a real calorie torcher- especially if you are pressed for time.
- Go for a walk in the woods or in the park and try and walk at a medium pace for about 30-45 minutes a few times a week. Soak in the scenery, listen to the sounds of the birds and enjoy the gentle breeze. Switch off your electronic gadgets and devices and breathe in fresh air. Visualise each and every organ getting oxygenated with every breath.
- Don’t set unrealistic body and fitness goals but enjoy the journey and watch your body change and transform as you emerge a stronger, fitter and leaner you.
If you are suffering from body image issues or know anyone close to you who is- please don’t hesitate to seek help. Speak to a family member or grown up and tell them what you are worried about. There are counselors, dieticians and psychologists near you that might be able to help you change these maladaptive behaviours so you can learn how to eat healthy, find a balance and learn how to love your body again.
“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.” ― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience
Contributed by Jia Singh. Jia is a wellness consultant, nutritionist and food & travel writer.