October 15th is Love Your Body Day from the NOW Foundation. They ask, "Do you love what you see when you look in the mirror?" Honestly, most days when I look in the mirror, I feel pretty OK about who I see. And grateful that I feel pretty OK about who I see, truth be told. But love? Hm...
You know, when I love my body is when I'm using it. Feeling it.
Whether it's my mind figuring out the solution to a problem, my legs pushing the pedals of a bicycle, or the climatic moments of a fabulous orgasm, there are times when this 37-year-old body works great. For that I am thankful and for that I do feel love. That's the part of my body I treasure, and that helps me feel good about myself.
My looks? Well, that's more challenging. As NOW says on the Love Your Body website:
Hollywood and the fashion, cosmetics and diet industries work hard to make each of us believe that our bodies are unacceptable and need constant improvement. Print ads and television commercials reduce us to body parts — lips, legs, breasts — airbrushed and touched up to meet impossible standards. TV shows tell women and teenage girls that cosmetic surgery is good for self-esteem. Is it any wonder that 80% of U.S. women are dissatisfied with their appearance?
My friends, I live in Hollywood. It can be challenging to feel good about your looks here when you aren't uber thin and fit, with perfectly applied makeup and dyed hair. And obviously, those images travel throughout the globe, and we all bear witness while magazine covers cut already thin arms in half and remove our beautiful wrinkles.
But Hollywood has also given us other images. I love 70s film because everyone looks so unique. It's like finding water in the desert to watch a film with normal-looking people. I recently watched Fame from 1980 and was struck by the same feelings. I love how teens in television and movies used to look like (or at least more like) real teenagers who actually wear clothes. Check out the two casts of 90210 in this post from Tracee Sioux on Empowering Girls: Sexier 90210, BusRadio Ads. It's striking how our media images have changed, and it's more than a change in clothing styles.
I don't want see starving people who all look the same in my media. I want to see people who look real and unique and imperfect and interesting. If you feel the same way, may I suggest you hit your local video store or work your Netflix queue? Other images are out there, and it can take surprisingly few to change how you see other people's looks and your own.
The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty had a serious impact on me. After looking at their billboards on my commute to work, I stopped thinking I was fat. And, this is going to sound really strange, but I can't get it back, the ability to look in the mirror and think I'm fat. Something clicked over in my mind, and now when I look in the mirror, I think I look OK. Normal. And that's a positive step, even if it's not all the way to "love."
That's a positive step that has me eating right and taking care of myself because it feels good to do so.
There's something else that's changed how I see myself in the mirror: The Blogosphere. Hollywood isn't the only world I live in. I live here, on the Internet, too. And here, I know there are people of all different shapes and sizes who live in my world, with a million different interests and passions beyond physical appearance. It helps me to regularly interact with a world of people outside of Hollywood. It gives me an inner strength to know you.
Which brings me to BlogHer's Letter to My Body Initiative that Suzanne launched in February 2008. At last count, Mr. Linky shows 144 participants. Here's 145:
I am so sorry that I let that woman in Tallahassee permanently destroy our eyebrows. If there's any way we could start growing hair again in that place where she burned our skin off, that would be awesome.
Damn, we have great breasts. And lips. And hips.
And our gray hair makes our eyes really green now, instead of just when we get emotional. I do try to remember that when I see someone looking at our gray. I am really much happier about our hair, and the other day someone said, Well, You must be Irish, and that made me happy because I love that about us.
I'm sorry we don't exercise more. I'm sorry we haven't had sex in five months. Thank you for making it feel really great when we do. Thank you for being healthy, and smart, and for keeping up with my lifestyle the best you can.
Thank you for my very healthy menstrual cycle.
We have our struggles. Our things I would change, things I fight, things that made me miserable in the past and things I continue to worry about. But all in all, body, you work great and we so often feel great, that what can I say but: Thank You.
There's a small possibility that this letter is primarily positive because my skin is clear right now. Hopefully the change in makeup and moisturizer will keep us here.
I take care of you the best I can, body. Thank you for continuing to rock.
So. Today is Love Your Body Day. And I'm betting that everyone can think of one or many more things that they love about their body, whether it's something appearance based or something about how your body works, physically or mentally. Won't you please share with me what *you* love about *your* body?
Further, NOW offers these ideas for What You Can Do today, including 10 Ways To Love Your Body and ecards you can send. My favorite idea:
Make a pact with yourself to treat your body with respect. Give yourself a break from women's magazines and the mass media. Try a new physical activity just for fun, not to lose weight. Stop weighing yourself, and change your goal from weight loss to improving your health.
Well, OK, I find that regularly weighing myself actually helps me understand my weight fluctuations and stay sane, but other than that I love it.
NOW also had a poster contest, and you can get an amazing calendar full of inspiring artistic images. Note that it is from NOW, however, so I'd imagine that you need to agree with their political positions to want to purchase it. You can review the entire content of the calendar online before you buy.
And OMG, I'm totally loving this Love Your Body Lady Liberty T-shirt. It says: "Give me your curves, your wrinkles, your natural beauty yearning to breathe free."
So what do you love about your body? Tell me here, or blog it and link it up! And if, like me, you've been meaning to write a letter to your body and you haven't yet, why not do it today? On Love Your Body Day! Be sure to add it to Mr. Linky on Suzanne's post. Oh and hey, Happy Love Your Body Day!
Love Your Body Day hits the Blogosphere:
Celebrate Love Your Body Day! - Stepfanie Romine on Daily Spark requests, "So today, throw back your shoulders, hold your head up high, stand up tall
and head out and face the world. You're beautiful. You're smart. You're
Contributing editor Liz Rizzo also blogs at Everyday Goddess.
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