The world expects you to define your body in certain terms. Waist size, bust size, height, weight, among others. These measurements should figure into your holistic view of your physical self, but they needn’t be the only factors. And spending some time in front of the mirror looking at and learning about your shape can completely transform how you conceptualize your body.
Why is it important to become familiar with your personal physical terrain? Well, how can you love something that you don’t understand? Seeing yourself is key to accepting yourself, and accepting yourself is a huge first step toward loving yourself.
So. Get naked. Or if you’re not fond of naked, strip down to your undies. Now haul out a full-length mirror and make sure you’ve got some decent light in the room. When you peer at your reflection, what aspects strike YOU as your defining physical traits? Which bits are markedly large, small, or relatively out of proportion? Do you have a prominent stomach, long neck, tiny feet? Do your arms seem short, your shoulders broad, your breasts small? Does your torso seem much longer than your legs, or vice versa? Look at everything, not just the major areas like hips, midsection, and bust. Examine your wrists and ankles, leg and arm length, calf circumference. Try not to judge yourself and DO NOT use someone else’s body as a point of comparison. Just take a long hard look, and note the features of your physical form that seem to define it.
Let’s use me as an example. I have somewhat broad shoulders and full upper arms which, combined, make my breasts seem relatively small. My hips and thighs are full, which makes my natural waist appear bitsy. My feet are well-proportioned to my muscular calves, but my hands and wrists are small compared to my arms. My face is large and rectangular, but my voluminous hair offsets its blunt angles.
Notice how I am describing my features mainly in comparison to my other features. What’s the point in comparing my boobs to Salma Hayek’s? Even if I had her boobs, I wouldn’t have her stature, her shoulder span, or any other aspects of her figure. Her boobs would look totally different on my frame. I’d rather focus on how my boobs interact with other aspects of my frame.
Ideally, this type of examination and evaluation should feel enlightening, scientific, and informative. You should be sating curiosity and gathering knowledge about how you are truly formed, comparing personal proportions with interest and tenderness. If you devolve into trash-talking yourself for having a prominent stomach, long neck, or tiny feet, remember: You are giving yourself a lesson in yourself. How can your stomach, neck, or feet be bad or wrong? They’re yours, and always have been, even if this is the first time you’ve recognized and acknowledged them. Welcome your defining traits into the fold like old friends. Because they are, and always will be.
Disproportionate is not bad. Big is not bad. Tiny is not bad. Uneven and unusual and unexpected are not bad. Familiarizing yourself with your body, just as it is, should prove your individuality in the best possible way. No other body is like yours, and that’s fantastic. FANTASTIC, I tell you! Stop comparing your figure to the figures of other women, and don’t define yourself wholly on the dry, soulless numbers that explain your dimensions. Decide for yourself what makes your body yours.
Image courtesy Wellness Now
A version of this piece is excerpted in my book.
Originally posted 2014-06-09 06:45:34.