Determine Your Own Story

As women, we have been force-fed the story of body hatred. Nothing is ever good enough. We are too fat. We are too skinny. Our boobs are too small. Our boobs are too big. I hate my butt. I hate my belly. My nose is too long. My face is crooked. I wish my hair was long. I wish I could pull off a pixie cut. Thunder thighs? Thigh gap? Bikini ready? Rock hard abs? And even as we loathe ourselves, we snark on others. Can you believe what she is wearing? Wow, she’s gained weight! What a cow. That hair color does nothing for her! What a skinny bitch! Shit. We are are own worst enemies. We hate what we see in the mirror, yet we pick on every little imperfection in others. When will it stop? When will we accept and love who we are, AND love the beauty in all women? Is it possible to stop body shaming ourselves and others?

What is ugly and what is beauty? We have been taught ugly is fat. Ugly is dull hair. Ugly is yellow teeth. Beauty is thin. Beauty is luxurious locks of hair. Beauty is brilliantly white teeth. But what if we turned those definitions upside down and inside out? What if we looked in the mirror and determined our own beauty? What if we ignored the stereotypes and really saw ourselves as these magnificent creatures that are curvy and jiggly and awesomely fabulous? THAT is beauty.

This is part of my attraction to yoga. Yoga is not about judging, it is about accepting. Yesterday my yoga teacher said, “Love and accept your body.” It sounds so simple. Love and accept your body.  Yoga strips down the expectations and lays bare the realities of what your body can do. Much of the language in yoga centers around the heart. Pull your heart up. Bring your hands to your heart. There is a simple message in those words: listen to your heart and the rest will come. Beauty is in the heart, not what we wear or how much we weigh or the clothes we have on.

Last week when we hiked the beaches in Northern California I found this heart-shaped rock among the seaweed and sand. It is now my talisman, my reminder to be kind to myself, to love and accept me as I am now...not some distant wish for something I will never be.

I recently had an amazing epiphany after reading this quote from comedian and goddess Amy Schumer. She said, “I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story - I will...I stand here and I am amazing, for you. Not because of you...I am not my weight. I am not my mother. I am myself. And I am all of you, and I thank you.” So, now I am looking at myself in a new “mirror". I don’t see fat. I don’t see old. I don’t see invisible. What I do see is a fierce, clever, and dazzling woman with much to say. That’s not vanity; it’s self-love and it’s all I have. It’s my story. What’s yours?