Reclaiming and De-Shaming My Body

We can only love ourselves fully when we learn to love our bodies. A radical act of self-love that goes against the status quo and everything we've been taught, but this total self-acceptance and self-love is where real healing and wholeness are found. Read more at delvingdeepwithin.wordpress.com
Image courtesy of Cocoparisienne on Pixabay.

A playful interaction with my friend involving my favorite Facebook Messenger sticker Tuzki recently led to me commenting how I could do with a bit of toning before “shaking my booty” in quite the same way.

As women we need to love our bodies more wobbly bits and all, for each time we disown them we disown a bit of ourself.
Image source: https://66.media.tumblr.com/bc0369d8c7ca6b61ee0754ef06316e54/tumblr_nace2aKFx91tt3wfao1_400.gif

My friend, in the way friends do, reminded me that we all have our own mojo and that “joy creates extraordinary sexiness in any body.”

Sending her another favorite Tuzki sticker – Tuzki blowing a kiss – I responded, “That’s so true, isn’t it! I’m actually really thankful my body is a beautiful shape. (Don’t tell too many people I said that!!).”

What I find interesting in all of this is the aside in brackets. As if I have to keep it a secret that, God forbid, I might actually like my body.

I mean really, what’s so wrong with that?

The sad fact is that to say we like our bodies has become somewhat a revolutionary statement, particularly for us women.

We are taught to be at war with our bodies; most of us absorbing this message from the influences around us in childhood. Young and too credulous to question if the information being given us is accurate or not, we unwittingly take on the beliefs of the women around us and society at large. Before we know it, the body that was supposed to be our best friend has become our worst enemy and we censure it relentlessly for being too this, not enough that; trouncing it with our thoughts and slamming it with our self-talk time and time again.

As women it is ingrained in us that if our body doesn’t live up to the perfect ideal then we are somehow intrinsically not enough.

I know because I (subconsciously) believed in this hogswallop for years.

In spite of being a sensitive, intelligent and independent-minded woman; despite the fact that l (and every other woman) am so much more than just my  body – I am the consciousness, the intelligence, the love, the compassion, the determination, the vision, the passion, the humor, the gentleness, the fear, the joy, the life that pulse through me and the totality of all the experiences I’ve  lived through – I was letting this reductive notion of who I am and whether that was “good enough” determine my worth; measuring myself against media images of perfection and incessantly finding myself lacking.

For years and years I hated the way I looked.

When I was young I thought my nose was too long and that my acne rendered me repulsive and repellent. I can laugh about it now, but I literally remember times when I wished I didn’t have to go out without being able to hide my face under a paper bag.

Not content with making my face the source of all my problems, I soon got to work on my body. I spent the first half of my teenage years on and off the scales, skipping breakfast and lunch as often as I could in my pursuit of the kind of weightlessness that could only be achieved in Space. That may come as a shock to a few because it’s the first time I’ve openly admitted it, but it was by no means an uncommon problem amongst us young women then and neither is it now. Eating disorders are rife in our society and it has more than a little to do with the unattainable images of perfection we are bombarded with day in day out, everywhere we turn.

A brief honeymoon period in my mid-twenties when the acne (finally!) cleared up was followed by the shock of discovering my first gray hairs, and – the after-effect of too many years of walking my dog without a hat or suncream – my new tormentor: sun-ravaged skin. All before I was even thirty.

I became obsessive – covering my forearms with long gloves and my face with a mask or bandana in my endeavors to “protect myself” from the sun; as if the sun was my enemy too, not the life-giving source of energy.

Throughout it all every time my body failed to live up to my ideal of perfection, I made it “wrong.”

I disowned and disclaimed it; cursed the DNA my ancestors gave me.

Shamed it.

Abused it.

Longed for it to be something else.

Denied it (and me) the joy and pleasure of it simply being what it was.

It has taken me well into my thirties to even begin the monumental process of turning this around.

Now I am in the process of reclaiming my body. Staking my right to define my own relationship with my body, rather than having it determined by the status quo.

I am here for this lifetime in this body. Why would I want to turn against the very thing that affords me the opportunity to experience life in all its splendor?

At long last I am learning to love myself, body and all.

That despite the wobbly bits; the cellulite;  the plethora of stretch marks; the broken veins that traverse my face, that I still – if I let myself – see as marring my skin.

This is pivotal: I now refuse to let myself go there 99% of the time.

 

Instead I am accepting and honoring my body, inundating it with gratitude for its beauty and perfection and all it allows me to do and be and experience.

Far from it being shameful for me to love my body, it dishonors not only my body but the totality of my being and the Source consciousness that breathes life into everything every time I don’t.

So I am dedicating the rest of this blog post to singing the praises of my body and my physicality, and the myriad ways in which I love this most intimate part of me.

I love the gentle curve of my waist and the swell of my hips. I love my slender but strong wrists and ankles, and my long and capable limbs. I love the gracefulness of my neck and the way my hair cascades around my face. I love both the softness and the hardness of my belly, and the strength and power in my back muscles.

I love the way I can stretch my arms high up in the air and place my feet firmly on the Earth and feel how good it feels to be here now in a physical body.

I love the way this allows the power of Universal energy to course through me, so I know my strength and vigor.

I love the way I can consciously drain all the tension out of my body and give it to Mother Earth, allowing myself to feel the joy and ease of being in that ultra-relaxed place where I inhabit my body without tension.

I love the way I can stretch and expand the limits of my body and it rejoices in the challenge – the way it can climb steep hills and small mountains walking through the burn in my thighs and the fire in my lungs. The way it can  open up into greater flexibility through gentle stretching working with the breath, and attune itself to hold balance poses for extended periods of time. I love the way my fingers rise to the challenge of dancing over the holes of my tin whistle faster and more fluently, and my body’s capacity to learn to do new things like snowshoeing, belly dance and making pots on the wheel at will.

I love my body’s tenacity and fidelity.

It is my staunchest supporter – it has seen me through everything. Wherever I’ve been; however much I’ve abused it or allowed others to, it has never spurned me. It has faithfully kept doing its thing, supporting me as I engage in the world.

I love its honesty, the way it tells me when I’ve been pushing myself too hard; neglecting or abandoning myself in some way. I love the way it can never lie, and is an honest reflection of my state of being if only I am attentive enough and aware enough to read its communications in this way.

I love my body’s capacity for restoring itself through sleep and rest; reenergizing itself for the following day. The way it’s always faithfully there when I wake, eager to walk into another day and its adventure with me.

I love the tangibility of my physical presence; the way it can soothe an anguished or frightened child; reassure my aging dog that I am there and she is safe.

I love the way my body is the vessel for me to experience joy and pleasure, delight in the sensory experience of the world.

The warm feeling of the sun on my back, the grass prickling my bare arms. The cool breeze by the river gently caressing my face and tangling with my hair. The feel of soft clothes or warm blankets against my skin. The first drops of rain on my face. The feeling of another’s arms around me, their tongue dancing with mine. The pleasure of touching and being touched.

The joy and fulfillment my tastebuds feel as they revel in the first sip of a Vienna coffee; or their delight in a berry dessert, the bitterness of wild mountain vegetables or the rich creaminess of a gratin or Quattro Formaggio pizza.

The fragrant scent of roses and lavender borne on the wind; the flood of feeling they evoke as I think of my mum’s rose garden out back of our house, and remember my granddad and his garden. The smell of a ripe peach or freshly baked bread beckoning to be eaten. The scent of rain in the air before a summer thunderstorm, and the rich scent of the Earth that has drunk deeply of it after it has passed.

The pleasure of music and the way it speaks to our soul. The joy of waking to bird song, and walking my dog or creating pots to the accompaniment of summer cicadas. The humming of bees as I walk the mountain roads or work in my garden. The orchestra of crickets rubbing their wings in harmony as I gaze up at the star-studded sky, and wonder what I did to deserve to live in a place of such rich abundance.

The marvel and beauty of the world that my eyes are witness to each and every day. The  rich and vibrant red of poppies dancing on the river bank; the diamonds of light shimmering and dancing on the river herself. The ageless grace and beauty of the mountains rising up out of the foothills. The gossamer beauty of dragonfly wings as they flit and hover over the paddy fields. Nature unfolding herself before me in exquisite and unceasing beauty, each season holding a magic of its own.

I love the way my eyes are a gateway to my soul and when people look into them they can see the pure essence of me reflecting back their own pure essence, the opening to real and authentic connection.

I love my body’s capability and its capacity for self-expression. The wonder of creative expression through dance, and the marvel of my hands creating exquisite pots in harmony with the revolutions of the wheel. The joy of voicing and creating who I am through my words, and expressing my pleasure through song.

I love the amazing functionality of my body. The way my heart beats and my lungs draw in life-giving oxygen without me having to do a thing. The way my stomach digests my food, and waste matter is disposed of; and nutrients, minerals and vitamins are sent exactly where they are needed. I love the way my brain creates new neurons and neural pathways, and my body’s amazing capacity to heal.

I love and honor my physical body for helping me to heal on another level; for having been the repository for my pain all these years, storing my emotional pain in its depths.

I am grateful to it for this service; it deserves to be honored. And I am amazed by its capacity to release this pain and the memories of it from my cells as I work on myself and clear more and more from my energy field.

I love my body’s capacity to change – to renew itself and create itself anew, all the time coming into perfect alignment with my vision of who I am and reflecting this back to me.

I love the fact that in my body flows the blood of my ancestors; that I am connected to them and the love that has brought me forth through our shared DNA; that the gifts I have are the ones they have given to me.

I love the sacredness of my womb and the miracle of its nurturing and life-giving force; its potential to bring things full circle again.

I love the fact that the cells in my body are powerhouses of energy, that they store all the information that is needed for me to be the greatest and highest version of myself; that they are relentless in their pursuit of this highest ideal.

I love and honor my physical body in its totality for its sacred gift of life and its intimate connection to all that is and the life-giving Earth.

I love the miracle of life that I am.

I love the miracle of life that is in me and is me; that is embodied in me.

And when I walk the Earth loving my body, each step is a sacred one bringing me home to the joy and divinity that I am.

 

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14 thoughts on “Reclaiming and De-Shaming My Body”

  1. A beautiful reflection, Julia. And an important one I think. Men and women alike could benefit from acceptance in and gratitude for their earthen vehicles, though I don’t mean to detract in any way from the particular challenges of being a woman in today’s image-obsessed world. That is obviously very real.

    For a moment as I read this piece I slipped into the awareness of my body beyond my body– of the earth and stars, the rivers, the grass, the homes in which we live, the other bodies coming towards us or moving away. How our body can take on an even richer meaning when we come home to our hearts as well.

    Peace
    Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Michael, thanks for coming by :)

    I’m really glad you brought that up you know. As I was writing I was thinking, “I’m sure men have similar issues about their bodies, too,” and wondering if I should perhaps widen the focus and not make it so specifically about women. I tried to give a nudge in that direction with my “particularly us women,” but then kind of forgot all about it… Lol. It would be really interesting to hear what other men have to say on the subject. Like you say, I think there is value in raising our vibration to one of body love for all of us, men and women alike.

    I long to experience this sense of expanded self you slip in and out of, it sounds like a heavenly place to be :) I certainly feel a deep and life-giving connection to nature, but oh to know myself as that Oneness…

    Coming home to my heart has definitely turned everything around – my relationship with my body included – and oh what a wonderful place to be!

    Sending you peace and blessings for the week ahead.
    Julia

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  3. Beautfiul post. I once had the “ideal” body (size 2) and through cancer lost it to the reconstruction of my pelvis and right femur. So, now I have curves, bumps and all that “stuff.” It has taken me years to be okay with where I am in my new physical body. Some days I would look in the mirror and not recognize, what is that, oh that is a curve, hmmmm. Now I relish in this is who I am; take me as I am. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Natasha, thank you so much for coming by and sharing your healing journey and how it’s affected your relationship to your body. I’m sure the path wasn’t easy along the way, but it sounds like you’re in a really great place now. I think that is ultimately what our body and soul long for – for us to accept and love ourselves as we are. When we do, what joy and rejoicing must ensue. I love the way you have grown to relish who you are, such a wonderful way to live xx

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  4. It must be a rite of passage that we have a love-hate relationship with our bodies when we are younger, Julia. I had that acne business as well and mercifully it finally went when I was older. I cursed the oily skin which is now a blessing because even though I am past 50, I don’t have wrinkles. Like yourself, I’ve accepted that our body belongs to us and if it can accept the crazy things we do (like walking in the sun without an umbrella or sunscreen) then we too should accept it unconditionally. A powerful post, thank you for sharing it with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Vatsala, thank you for coming by. I think you’re right and that most of us have a love-hate relationship with our body for one reason or another, and also that part of our work in coming here is to learn to love and accept ourselves unconditionally just as we are, as you say. I think it’s only when we do that we can – at last – step up into the full magnificence of our being, and embrace everything we came here to be. How wonderful to be on that bit of the path at last, and in such great company, too.

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  5. An exquisite love letter to yourself, Julia! Wow! What keen awareness and observation of yourself in your body. It’s interesting, as on many levels, I still have not come to fully come to ‘love” my body. Having 6 planets in air, I love the idea of flying into the cosmos and my big life lesson has been to fully and consciously be in my body. It sounds so natural to many people, although it has never been for me. My mother was pleasantly plump forever and very comfortable in her body. I longed to be thin and slender. This longing led to many health issues and indeed I got painfully skinny, in the most unattractive and unhealthy way. And not from any eating disorder. Part of the reason I wrote my book is to share these experiences with others, as it took a lot of years and a lot of work, to accept who and how I am in this physical body. Reading your words, I know I still have a long way to go to arrive at fully embracing the body I am living in. Thank you and continue enjoying yours! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Beverley, thank you so much for coming by and sharing also of your story. The idea of being on the wavelength of flying into the cosmos sounds very appealing, but I understand we also have to be grounded into the Earth energy in order to be able to bring our manifestations into physical reality, so I would imagine this has been an important lesson for you. I’m learning the same, though rather than being too much in the cosmos I think I’ve always been too much in my head until I stumbled on this journey into the heart. They say we teach others what we most need to learn ourselves, so I’m sure your experiences in this arena have all come together in the form of your book in the most perfect way for you to touch the lives and hearts of many. It is my hope that I can do the same. I love the way you describe the words that flowed through me as being an “exquisite love letter to (my)self” – what a beautiful way to see it. One that I shall remember. Thank you xx

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  6. I love this post, Julia. I loved your insights – especially the “shh! don’t tell!” impulse which I share as a woman in this culture. But I REALLY LOVED IT when you finally burst into song about your love for your body. I feel called to say that when you become a spiritual teacher, please have all your students read this and then write their own love song to their bodies. I see you as leading a self-love workshop! Brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Reba, thank you so much for coming by and leaving such an inspiring and empowering comment. It’s like you’ve expanded my vision of myself and, oh, what a wonderful feeling that is ♡ You’re right – of course, being the self-love guru you are – this would be a wonderful process to do in a self-love workshop. Had never imagined that I might lead one one day, but I’m open to whatever the Universe has got in store for me, and oh what a beautiful and enriching experience that would be. Thank you for opening the door into more potential and expansion. So grateful for you and all you do oxo

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