Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Body Image

The other week Ann Marie wrote in her primary talk the line "I like my body." I am thrilled to hear that from my girls at any age. I think a positive self image in critical for girls (and women for that matter). In our day of supermodels, photoshop, and hollywood glam teams it is incredibly difficult for girls and women to appreciate the beauty and divinity of their imperfect bodies. I thought I would share some ways I have come to appreciate my body and its "imperfections" over time and through experience. 

As a teenager, I knew I was never the prettiest girl in the class. I never really felt like the ugliest either. I guess there have always been parts of my body/face I have liked and others I wished looked different. I think that is fairly common to most people. 

I knew with the right clothes and makeup I could accentuate my assets and minimize my less lovely features. In the end I knew I would never be a "10" but I could look respectably beautiful if I tried. Since my self esteem has never been centered on my looks, this has always been good enough to me.

As I have grown older and more experienced, I have come to appreciate my body and its "faults" or "less lovely" parts more and more. One example of this is my knees. I have never thought I had cute knees. Seems funny to think of knees as something that can be cute, but they definitely can. You know those knees that are small and make an hour glass shape of the leg. I don't have those knees. There is no hour glass shape to my legs. 

This is a part of me that no amount of working out is going to change. You can't diet your knee bones skinnier. I have therefore never thought of myself as a person with "nice legs" because my knees have no shape to them. 

Now in college I began running. I ran for several years. I am not talking marathons. But I did do some 10Ks and I ran a few miles everyday for several years. As I made friends in the running world, I learned how many runners have problems with their knees. When I got married, I found my husband can only run on certain surfaces because his knees get hurt if he isn't careful.

I also noticed that most of these people had really nice looking knees. I came to appreciate my stocky knees. They may not be the prettiest knees, but they are sturdy and hearty and healthy knees. They perform their function very well. I now love my knees. I wouldn't trade them for the cutest little shapely knees ever made. They are MY knees and they are perfect for my me.

I could say the same thing about my nose. I have never really liked my nose. I always wished I had a petite cute little nose. A nose is kind of a hard thing to hide or minimize. I became less self conscious about this as I grew older and my face became more proportional. 

Now, however, I wouldn't trade my nose for anything. It isn't that my nose is prettier. It is still the same old nose. But my husband has trouble breathing through his nose at night. I have no problem getting enough air in through my nose unless I am sick. My nose performs well at its duty. I love my nose because of how well it works for me.

Now I don't have many major health problems. I am not sure how those with major health problems would feel about my reasoning for loving my body. But I still wanted to share my thoughts for those who could possibly appreciate their bodies a bit more for the work they perform regardless of how they look.

More tomorrow on appreciating our bodies from a different angle and with a different line of reasoning...