I want you to love yourself, today and every day. I want you to see how luminous, breathtaking, and flat-out gorgeous you are, just as you are. I want you to accept your body, and cherish it, and celebrate it with every breath you draw.

But I don’t want you to feel shame when you doubt that beauty or question that body. I don’t want you to find yourself wishing you were taller or bustier, and then spend hours self-flagellating. And I don’t, don’t, don’t want you to feel like a failure when negative body feelings crop up.

Learning to understand and accept your body is a lifelong process. You will probably never wake up and think, “Hey! Mission accomplished. No more will I worry about upper arm flab or acne, and I’m done fretting about my wrinkles FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. Let’s party!” Our society is full to bursting with confusing messages about beauty and bodies and attractiveness, and virtually none of us can pass through unscathed. Peer, family, and loved-one feedback can support self-love, but can also jar it out of alignment. Our bodies shift and change as we grow and age, so reaching a serene place of acceptance may turn out to be temporary when a whole new set of body hang-ups arises. AND THAT’S COMPLETELY FINE! Cementing one set of ideas into place often indicates obliviousness. You doubt because you are in a constant state of observation, comparison, and processing. It’s natural and normal and nothing to feel ashamed of.

We all doubt. Hell, I doubt myself daily, worry constantly, reprimand my body in tiny, nasty ways more often than I’d care to admit. And while I do my best to self-correct, I never beat myself up for those negative thoughts. I don’t think of it as cheating, don’t consider those wayward thoughts to be “slip-ups.” I’m a human being, and an impressionable one at that. I have come a long way, done admirable work, and love myself better, stronger, and truer now than ever before. But I do doubt. And it’s all part of the journey, as far as I can tell.

Work hard to love yourself. Remind yourself as often and forcefully as you can that your beauty is a unique gift, and one that merits lifelong gratitude. And when you doubt, doubt freely and contemplate. Never shame yourself for doubting.

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Originally posted 2010-12-29 06:09:44.

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10 Responses to “Doubt”

  1. Miss Peregrin

    Have I mentioned lately that you’re amazing, and everyone should read your blog? Just in case, you’re amazing, and I think everyone should read your blog. Your posts about body image never fail to inspire me.

  2. Camille

    Yes! Thank you, thank you for this reminder. This is why I love your blog.

  3. Su

    I can;t begin to tell you how your blog has affected me. I went thru some hard times, which lead to weight problems ( size 6 to a size 20), and the more I gained, the worse I felt, and more I ate.

    I’m slowly ( with many thanks to you), loving myself AS IS. That doesn’t mean I plan to stay this size, but it does mean that I’m not defining myself by my size, which is making me feel better, and more in control.

    You are amazing.

  4. Sara

    Thank you, Sal, for writing this and posting it today. It’s exactly what I needed to read at exactly the right moment. Like Camille, it is posts like this that make me love love love your blog.

  5. Anna Guest-Jelley

    This is such an important point. I’ve found the process of self-correcting to be the most helpful part in my life–just getting to the point where I could do that was huge. Thanks!

  6. Maven

    This is a good reminder. I am so on board with “health at every size,” and I am cultivating awareness of my privilege as an able-bodied and healthy person–but I can still be thrown off-balance. So I don’t beat myself up for having to fight against all the social/cultural messages about beauty and thinness that are fired my way. I can be aware of them and I can loathe them, but I can’t despise myself for the fact that they penetrate my consciousness.