When you have a history of body and image obsession, learning to be comfortable with taking care of yourself from a place of love, instead of fear, can feel scary and often times confusing. I think that in some cases, women feel that in order to heal their obsession with body image, they have to get to a place where they never think about their image or body at all.
Many clients will look me in the eye and with trepidation say something along the lines of, “But I don’t want to stop caring about how I look!” That is a scary though for many, and the good news is, I don’t think that it is true.
I think that belief is as dichotomous as the unhealthy body image itself, in that it is “all or nothing” and doesn’t leave room for the beauty and balance that exists in the grey zone of life.
Anyone who knows me will tell you I have a special kind of love for fancy jeans, a counter full of “promise-you-the-world” face creams, and let’s just say I’m not lacking in the shoes department either. It is without apology or the need to reconcile that I will always take pride in my appearance and my image.
So, what is the difference between trying to fit in, and wanting to stand out?
I believe the answer lies in this question – Why do you choose what you choose?
It’s not WHAT you do, but WHY you do it that makes all the difference.
Taking time to put on makeup because you feel ugly or unworthy without it feels like hell. Taking time to wear makeup because you adore your self and see it as a way to adorn your beauty is a different story entirely. It can be an act of creativity and whimsy.
Buying face cream because you are afraid of aging and losing something that you feel gives you value is full of fear and feels desperate. Wearing face cream because you want to treat your skin the way you would a special and valued diamond, treating it with the utmost care and concern…well, that feels luxurious and decadent. The intention behind any action determines the emotional result of consequence of that action. So let your intentions be full of self love.
I believe we live in a society that will have you believe you are “less than”, so as to keep you buying more crap you don’t need so you can temporarily feel good. In the process, you put money in the pockets of someone who doesn’t want you to know your worth, because the more people emotionally dependent on their products, the more they will sell.
The more we feel bad, the more we need to consume. It’s a by-design system predicated on women believing our value lies on the outside, in our bodies, in our image, and in how we stack up against some ideal that is not achievable. We lose, they win, and the cycle repeats itself another day.
When you believe this lie, anything you do to improve your image will weaken you. You will feel this because it will feel desperate and more like a NEED than a WANT. When you believe that your image is all of you and determines your worth, your focus on image then feels like a sentence. Your need to improve and fix your image is a dependency you are locked into in order to perfect and ensure your place and meaning in this world.
When your choices are coming from a place of “I am good enough”, and truly about allowing your best self to shine, then you can focus on the body and image without feeling less than and diminished.
When you are aware that your image is part of you, but not all of you, thinking about your body and spending time nurturing it can feel fun.
So wear makeup, or don’t wear makeup. Dress frilly or rock your favorite pair of jeans. Tease that hair, or chop it all off. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is why you are making those choices.
The self-love diva says to the world, “I’m not doing this to prove to you that I am good enough . . .I am doing this because I KNOW I am good enough”.