Naked Salvation for Body Image

When I think of world peace, I do not think of a world free of pain, crime and hate. I instead envision a world united that can tackle these issues effectively and without war. Contentment is much the same. Being content does not mean I don’t have bad days. Instead, it means I am at a place of inner understand where I can deal with the emotions of life in a healthy, effective fashion.

I am not, for example, immune to short bouts of poor body image. I’m not sure if this is a human thing, a female thing or a TK thing. All I can tell you is that, despite the numbers of the scale and the sizes of my clothing, there are still days where I feel fat and ugly. Luckily for me, I have retained a habit from my high school days that always helps me overcome this slump.

 One of the aspects of my childhood self that I have only now come to acknowledge is how wonderfully intelligent little TK was.  All my turmoil, both inside and out, could have easily destroyed me. I could be walking the world today a bitter woman. And yet, I find myself to  be a strong and confident 20-something living a happy life. How did I get from there to here?

My body was high on the list of things I hated about myself back in the day. It seems ridiculous that a 10-year-old, 12-year-old or even a 15-year-old should care so much about the shape of their body when they are still growing. Even so, I know young TK wasn’t alone in her self-hatred. We see young girls complain about their bodies all the time. I know grown women, decades older than I am, who still look at their bodies with disdain.

They say you can’t love someone until you learn to love ourselves. Can the same thing be said for attractiveness? If we don’t find ourselves to be attractive, how can we expect others to? We, as humans, are full of flaws. None of us look the same and chances are we all see something we would like to change about our bodies. It’s time we learned to let go of all that is wrong with us and embrace what is right. When it comes to my physical appearance, there is little about me that wasn’t made fun of at least once. You name it, I’ve probably been made fun of for it. Hell, I even had a girl examine my hands and then ask if I shaved them (is that a compliment on how smooth my hands are, or are you saying I should start shaving them? Almost 10 years later, I’m still confused). Combine that with all the messages young girls get, and it’s not surprise to know I had a poor opinion of my attractiveness. My savior in how I viewed my body came from an unexpected source: a magazine (I think it might have been Seventeen, but I’m not sure). They had an article discussing physical self-esteem with a unique suggestion: look at yourself naked.

This photo, “body pictures-3” is copyright (c) 2014 Julien Haler and made available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license

They suggested looking at yourself in the mirror, with everything exposed, and focusing on the things that you thought were beautiful. Maybe this seems silly or embarrassing, but I thought it was worth a try.  There were a lot of things I could have condemned looking at my body completely exposed, but that wasn’t the purpose of the exercise. I was to admire my beauty. What did I have that was attractive? What was I proud of?

This first day, the only things I chose to admire were the color of my eyes and the shade of my skin. I repeated this experiment over weeks and months. Eventually, I started to see other things. The shape of my body suddenly seemed more appealing and I wasn’t so quick to assume I was fat. I started to treat my body better, eat healthier and work out. This exercise in self-love didn’t fix everything, but it did make me feel a bit better about myself.

Older and wiser, I no longer feel constant apprehension towards my body. I like my shape and, given the opportunity, I would gladly turn down all forms of plastic surgery. There are still days where I feel fat, and on those days, I make sure to give myself a good hard look in the mirror. In addition, I’ve started to look at myself before I ever step on the scale. It gives me the opportunity to look myself in the eye, admire my body and remind myself how little that number really means.

Knowledge a belief don’t always correlate. You may know you are a healthy, beautiful human being without believing you are. I encourage each and every person reading this, if you ever have a moment where you feel bad about your body, find a private moment, look at yourself in the mirror and remind yourself of your beauty. Remember, no criticisms allowed.


27 thoughts on “Naked Salvation for Body Image”

  1. I love this. It’s exactly what I was thinking about when trying to decide how to deal with my own daughters. Mostly, I think talking about exercise and diet should be focused on how you feel not how you look. Having daddy talk about the fact that the most attractive aspects of a woman are how she treats others and whether she is energetic seem to have a profound affect on the girls. They want to ride bikes and do sports because it makes them feel more attractive, not because it takes off a few lbs…. – the wifey

    1. These are all great things, but we still live in a world obsessed with appearance. No matter what, I am sure your daughters will feel pressure from their peers and magazines to look a certain way. Now, I am not recommending that people tell their children to do this. I just think it’s important, especially when we are feeling like we are worth less because of how we look, to admire what is great about our appearance. Obviously my eye color doesn’t make me a great person, nor does it make me healthy. But, in that moment, I hated my body. After that exerise, even though nothing really changed, I didn’t hate my body quite as much. Over the months, I stopped hating my body all together. It opened me up to loving myself.

  2. You had me at ”naked” I ran here as fast as I could and I’m a little out of breath. Was maybe expecting something else, (it’s a male curse dear, don’t fret none) 🙂 – but in many ways, as I grow older, I feel a certain detachment from my body is a healthy freedom. My body is my avatar, but I am not my body. I know looks matter, I know health matters too, but I truly believe we are Spirits having a temporary experience as a human being. I filter my drinking water, try to avoid GMO foods, meditate and take care of the energy that is my body. (This body detachment probably started after having surgery on every disk from lumbar to my neck, and this terrible chronic pain that I have to learn to live with. I can only really get relief by leaving my body and sort of being an observer of that body and it’s pain without identifying with it). Goddam I’m rambling! Be careful using naked in your title again! It gets me going … lol 😛

    1. This comment made me smile. All I hear is ‘please use naked in a title again.’ ^_^

      ” My body is my avatar, but I am not my body.”

      I love this line. It’s so very true. I don’t think a lot of people can separate the two, though. We often treat our body in the way we think it deserves. If we hate it, we treat it poorly and vice versa. In a society obsessed with physical appearances, I think this sort of mirror exercise can help people love what is great about their appearance. I mean, saying my eyes were pretty didn’t make me feel any less fat, I simply tried to focus on something positive. The more you focus on positivity, the more negative aspects seem to shrink in significance.

      1. I’m glad my sense of humor didn’t come out wrong. Wanted to make you smile. I really think we, and probably mostly women, see defects in the mirror that no one else really sees. It’s like women are designed to look and fix something wrong. This is exploitation by advertisers, and it saddens me that my granddaughters will be exposed to this fictional bullshit. I prefer women with no make up, natural. Women glow with beauty and don’t seem to see it. When Rome took away the Goddess from religion, we went to a Patriarchal paradigm, and women have suffered ever since. Older wise women were killed as witches by the untold thousands in Europe. We choose to buy into the belief, but the belief is a fiction. I love women, I love their company and adore them as Divine Sophia (Wisdom). I’m so sorry women aren’t treated better, paid equally and not compared to the perfect girl that is 90% photoshopped. It breaks my heart. I think your described exercise is a good idea. t/y

        1. I am scared for the next generation as well. I’ve heard my boyfriend’s nieces complain that they are fat. These girls are in middle school and don’t even weigh 100 pounds. They are in no way fat. The fact that they even know what a thigh gap is terrifies me.

      2. That is an excellent view point “My body is my avatar, but I am not my body”! Exactly it’s the shell which holds the true self, the person it is not the identity though we use it as such a lot more than we should. We are more than what we are skin deep. Our differences start with our skins but that is the smallest difference the deeper we get into the myriad cosmos of our soul, spirit who we really are is more complex than all the arrangement of the galaxies and stars can define. We are so different that even a life time getting to know some one only says we need more lifetimes to get to know one another. We as a people do need to more searching to know one another that to criticize one another.

        1. I think it starts with being comfortable perpetually searching. We will never have all the answers about ourselves, others or the universe. Still, it’s important we keep asking and keep growing.

  3. I’ve always done this but I didn’t know it was a thing other people did. I just look in the mirror and think, “Yay! I’m doing a good job at being me. This is the only chance I get at being me so I need to keep on rockin’ it!” Nothing wrong with some personal pep talking 🙂

    1. I think a lot of people do that, but rarely do they look at themselves and truly admire their body. They look at themselves and think, “yay! This dress really hides my terrible love handles.” That’s not helpful at all. When you look at yourself naked, there are no barriers. You see all the flaws. You can also see your attractiveness. I think this exercise teaches people to love the good in their looks and to stop worrying about the bad.

  4. Apologies if this is TMI (TMFI, even) but:

    I’m not so sure about my ability to admire myself naked in front of a mirror, directly, but– I am more accepting and at peace with intimacy with my beloved wife. I am okay with looking at us and not being so self-conscious about how I look.

    I think it’s interesting, because when I was MORE self-conscious, I wasn’t as fat as I was today. Interesting paradox.

    1. I have the oppisite when it comes to body image. I was a bit bigger years ago and felt bad about myself. Now, I am happy and thinner, but still suffer from bouts of poor body image. It just goes to show you that whatever size we are has a limited effect on how we see ourselves. If you hate yourself at 300 pounds, chances are you will still hate yourself at 150. The mental aspects of health are just as important as the physical ones.

      1. The mental aspects of health are just as important as the physical ones.
        Agreed. Reminds me of Kenneth’s post today. I also think mental health needs to be self-driven, speaking from my own experience. The power comes from within.

        1. Self – driven mental health cam be difficult, though, if we don’t see the mental problem. For example, a person with poor body image my be more likely to see their body as the problem instead of their mental picture of their body.

  5. I can’t add anything to this one from your end. When I was working out on the bowflex I made major strides. I had to tear it down due to an unfortunate incident involving my last place. In my opnion the bowflex is way better than free weights.

    1. I never tried the bowflex. While working out is great, I believe anyone can use this mirror exercise to feel better about themselves. Feeling good about how you look in many ways helps people maintain a healthier lifestyle. You have to love yourself in order to truly take care of yourself.

      When it comes to fitness, I do well with activities that make me feel slightly at risk. Fencing and rock climbing are high on my list.

  6. As with the body just looking at a positive side can be challenging to all of us.
    Would that not be great a world where we look at the good things instead of the bad and complain about it.

    1. I think we do live in that world, if we choose to. Honestly, I think the difference between a so – called lucky person and an unlucky person is that one chooses to always focus on the positive while the other is always focused on the negative.

  7. I think that every woman has gone through this, or dare I say, ‘go’ through this throughout all of life. Just as you mentioned that there are days where you still feel fat. I think I heard or read somewhere before about how women see themselves in waves. One day they feel awesome, beautiful, like their body is great. And then, all of a sudden, the next day, they feel like they’re fat, bloated, ugly, etc. Oh, the joys of being a woman.
    I did a post not too long ago called, “Your butt is too small… What!” If you’d like to check it out you can do so here,
    Thanks TK for an thoughtful post about such a relevant topic. 🙂

  8. I hope that I help my grand-daughter cope with the social obsession with “good looks” by repeatedly telling her several things: 1) that she is beautiful, 2) BUT more important than being beautiful, she is intelligent, 3) BUT more important than being intelligent, she is kind. Some things ARE more important than others. Although, I believe she is all three, I think kindness is the MOST important attribute.

  9. I love this post! I am going to try this when I get home. I always had an issue with my body and how to embrace that I’m curvy and that that’s ok regardless of the magazine covers flooded with 6 ft. size 0 models. Lately I’ve been looking at things a lot differently and taking care of myself more because I’m starting to view those imperfections as what make me perfect. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Good for you! Those models can really get you down. I’m a perfect example because, even though I know I am of an average height and healthy weight, I still have ‘fat days.’ Being healthy is important and part of that is recognizing that each person’s healthy body is going to look different. I’ve been doing this for years. In that time, my body weight has fluctuated ic – 15 pounds back and forth. What’s amazing is that I rarely saw much of a difference in the mirror. Now, if I took a picture, I’d probably see a difference. Day to day, though, I saw nothing. Using this technique, numbers, weight and body fat didn’t define my beauty (I would still use those numbers to track my health, though). Let me know how it goes for you. Remember, you’re not allowed to say anything bad about your body. If you hate how a part of you looks, just ignore it and focus on what you love.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s