HOW ABOUT NOW? It’s Time to Start Loving Your Body Exactly As it Is and Exactly As It Is Not
I am in the middle of a new year’s purge. My garage has been a situation for a while. Escrow closed quickly when I bought my house four years ago, so I couldn’t purge as one normally does during the moving process. I stacked things on brand new garage shelves that should never have entered that garage: books I swore I would read again, high school and college textbooks I couldn’t quite let go, scripts that I reviewed for friends that have long ago been either made or fallen into the abyss of genius that never sees the light of a projection room.
I haven’t set a specific date to have the garage cleared. Normally that’s what I would do with a great big goal like this. But I didn’t want to rush through the boxes – especially the ones that could be confronting. Instead I committed to working on the project one half hour at a time for at least a few nights each week. Most nights I work far more, but some I stop the second that timer goes off with a giant exhale, “Thank God it’s over!”
I hit one box this week like that. It was filled with acting memories – plays, scripts and proof sheets from head shot photo shoots from my 20’s and early 30’s. One proof sheet hit me hard. I thought I looked great in the photos, but instantly recalled that I was self-conscious about my weight at the shoot because an agent had only days prior suggested I lose ten pounds (a feat I considered impossible).
What I wouldn’t do for that body now.
I am thirty-five pounds heavier than I was in those shots and am on a journey to lose twenty-five of them now. As I flipped through all the photos from the past, including far more recent ones, I realized that I have loved my body at very few moments in my life.
There was one time though – a time for which there is no evidence. No one knows about this on the planet – except you, dear readers. When I was 17, I was really loving my body. I was in Alaska visiting for my dad that summer. I didn’t have a boyfriend at the time and wouldn’t have done this for one anyway. I decided to take nude photos of myself -- just for me. I remember thinking I liked the lines of my body, how everything kind of flowed just right, how I had recently naturally thinned out in just the right way. I lost the proof sheet, never printed copies of the photos, and the negatives are likely long gone unless they pop up in this current excavation project. I’m pretty sure I tossed them at some point out of fear of having them found.
I never told a soul about it. It was my happy little “I love my body” project just for me. Soon after this during that same summer, my dad’s best friend -- married and even older than my dad -- sloppily, drunkenly kissed me when he drove me home from an event. I was shocked and felt betrayed by a father figure in my life. I couldn’t tell my dad because I thought my dad would most likely lose a dear friendship. So, again, a summer secret but with the opposite effect: feeling attractive now felt dangerous.
I also felt great about my body when I was 24 and was held at knife point in my New York apartment. I talked him out of raping me, as he moved his hand up and down my thigh and hip telling me how beautiful I was. Another scar: thin is dangerous.
I did a lot of healing on these and subsequent small and large traumas, but I never fully took my power back, the power I felt when I did have a body that was strong and lithe, the power I felt when I took nude pictures of myself just for me.
That’s on me. That’s not on them. And, I own it fully. It’s my responsibility to steer back from trauma toward love, and in this case toward loving my body. No one else can do it for me because it’s an inside job, so only I can call myself to attention.
Time’s up. It’s time to love my body now.
I talk in my book about loving ourselves exactly as we are and exactly as we are not, and yet I have not applied that to my body. I love it on some levels. I eat healthy foods, work out, drink water, meditate, sleep well. And, I feed it negative thoughts on a regular basis.
I can’t love THAT stomach! I can’t love THAT inner thigh!
And yet, I can.
So, this is my other excavation project, loving my body exactly a it is and exactly as it is not. It requires looking in the garage of my heart where some traumas are requiring some more attention.
For this week it’s me and my stomach having a chat about how I can love it and stop with the negative chatter about it. It’s my power center, just under the guiding light of my heart, and I am here to reopen my loving connection to it.
Maybe another nude photo session is in my future. My hope is I do get back to that level of self-love and appreciation.
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Bridget Fonger is a longtime health, lifestyle, and relationship writer, having authored a regular column for Huffington Post and blogs at superherooflove.blogspot.com. Fonger currently serves as a contributor for Thrive Global and Quora, and hosts a podcast entitled Superhero of Love Podcast. She is author of Superhero of Love: Heal Your Broken Heart & Then Go Save the World (January 1, 2019). Learn more about Fonger at www.superherooflove.com, and check out her inspirational series of talks, Love Forward Talks.Superhero of Love is now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and bookstores nationwide upon request.