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I have a confession to make. I've struggled with body image for most of my life.
I have five children so over the years my weight has fluctuated as my body transformed and changed. I've been a size four and a fourteen. Currently, I'm a size ten. At 5' 3 -3/4 " tall, I'm right on the cusp of petite sizing, so riding the weight roller coaster made it difficult to find stylish clothes that fit both length and height wise.
But this struggle was not driven by my clothing size -- I've hated my body when I was a size six just as much as I've hated my body when I was a size 14. My biggest neurosis has always been my tummy. I've definitely got the stretchmarks and soft, squishy belly of a mum of five, and I know (intellectually) that this is a badge of honor, but over the years, I've really struggled with loving my whole body wholeheartedly.
It's funny, you know? With four daughters, I always worried whether they would grow up with healthy esteem for their own bodies, so I never wanted to share my struggle with them. It has been my "secret" all along.
It was about eight years ago that I first read the story of Baubo, the funny little belly Goddess of sensuality. If you pay attention to the details of her story, you understand that Baubo teaches women how to shamelessly flaunt what they've got. She demonstrates how to accentuate the positive and command presence. In her story, we discover the simple pleasures of appreciation for the female form, no matter its quirks. She does not seem to care how "ridiculous" she looks, and, in fact, uses this to her advantage.
Reading her story made me see that I had been holding out for the "perfect body" in order to enjoy life and working with this goddess helped me to finally accept my body, flaws and all!
Body acceptance is not about denying your flaws or overlooking serious health issues. Quite the contrary! It means appreciating all that your body does for you as the carriage of your soul. It means listening to what your body really desires. You can hear it, if you tune in.
Of course, it can be hard to tune in because as women, we are bombarded with messages from society about how we should look since about birth (if not before). When I turned 40, I really hated reading fashion magazines that suggested I had to start dressing my age. WTF does that mean, anyway?
Truth be told, I've never really understood what it means to "act my age." I grew up fast, was a teen parent, and now at 42, I feel younger than I ever have in a lot of ways. Now, with a second lease on life since the older kids have moved out, I still have lots of vitality and I want to explore and have fun...hell if I'm going to start following the rules now!
I say dress in the way that makes you happy! Dress in colors that make you feel vibrant and alive! Don't be afraid to experiment with textures, shapes, fabrics or colors you normally would not consider. Instead of focusing on your size, why not focus on how the clothes fit instead? Have fun! Be your own stylist! Mix and match and ENJOY!
Creating a wardrobe that works for you does not have to require a lot of money. I have always enjoyed shopping for clothes in thrift stores just as much as boutiques. (I spent less than $45 on this outfit, but the rich fabrics, colors, textures and shapes make me feel totally abundant, which happens to be one of my CDFs).
And now, playing dress-up with my daughters can be very fun but I have also come to view these times as excellent opportunities to strike up conversations about healthy self-image, body acceptance and self-love. (By the way, my youngest daughter, budding artist Mimi Lu, took these photos. I have pictures of her from this photo shoot, too, but she asked me not to post them. Maybe one day...or not. She will decide when/if the time is right for her.)
Please do not mistake falling in love with your body for narcissism. If you can accept your body for how it is in this moment, it becomes easier to be kind.
It becomes easier to appreciate your journey, accepting your limitations, rising to any challenges and loving the skin you are in because it is the only one you have in this lifetime! You begin to enjoy your body as you begin to move more. You notice that when you eat beautiful foods, it translates into a beautiful you! You stay hydrated because your body feels better when you do! Now, I don't care so much about my pant size as I do about dressing in colors that make me happy!
If you struggle with body acceptance, I hope this post has inspired you to stop waiting for the perfect body and to start enjoying life today.
In this post, I'm wearing a navy blue mock turtle neck sweater, with side shirring, tone on tone shoulder bands and a lovely gold zipper up the back. The bright coral skirt is made of linen, a-line with pleat panels. I took the string belt out of the loops and instead tied it at my natural waist to accentuate my curves. My peeptoe shoes are coral, navy, red and yellow psychedelic swirl cork wedge heels.
If you have tips or tricks on loving the body you are in, please share them in the comments below! Your ideas are not only appreciated, but they help others who suffer needlessly.
My name is Dawn Champine and I am the Creatrix of The Goddess Diaries. I am very passionate about helping women remember their REAL GODDESS selves.