Self love, self respect, self worth are words thrown around as women fight to find themselves in a world where we are constantly told we are not enough.
We’re in a movement of body positive. It’s about time that we’ve started to take back our power and stop letting false images, media, fantasy dictate how we feel about ourselves. I think we should all find ways to love, appreciate and accept ourselves as we are right now, without waiting until conditions are “perfect”… because perfect doesn’t exist. But it’s really hard in a world where the only thing we see is “perfect” and the expectation that we should be too.
The fitness industry has become synonymous with looks. It’s become less about health and more about beach body ready, bikini body, 7 minute abs, 6 second workouts, exercise in a bottle. That’s not the real fitness industry but unfortunately the layer on the top that most people get caught in. Underneath that layer is the fitness industry, not the diet industry. There are a lot of coaches promoting a healthy body image, body positive trainers, and looking YOUR best, not someone else’s best. When we strive to look like something we cannot because of our genetic make up, we only end up disappointed and devastated and eventually, quitting. But as long as you’re caught in the top layer of the industries offerings you don’t get the messages from the core of the industry.
The core of the issue isn’t knowing what to do, it’s knowing why we don’t do it. When we exercise and eat healthy consistently, we rarely end up with a weight issue. We won’t be stick figures that’s plastered on the cover on the mag’s, but we’ll each look like what we look like. I used to dream of being wispy, thin, lanky, tall. My genetics just won’t let me. I have an athletic body. When I train I build muscle easily. I gain weight first, then I start to lose it as the muscle takes over and helps me burn even more fat. With added cardio, I lean out more than I ever thought possible.
I used to want to be wispy until I saw what my OWN body looked like under the fat and then I loved that more. That’s MY #bodypositivemovement. Adapting health for ourselves and letting our own bodies be enough, not quit because it’s not what society says it should be.
But every now and then, I still find myself measuring myself against an unseen but very tangible yardstick of “enough”. I occasionally find myself looking for my value outside of myself…for that affirmation. I know how and what my body looks like and I know how I like it to feel. I practise self love daily and body positive – extremely important aspects for someone recovering from eating disorders and body dysmorphia – and most days I got this. But some days I don’t. And while once upon a time I would have pretended to “have it” even when I didn’t, I no longer feel the need to fake it until I make it.
I find honesty much more refreshing for me. I like being able to talk to others and say, yes, I get it too. I know what it feels like, let’s look at it closely and move through it. To me, it’s not about “getting it forever”… I think we’re all human, we’ll all have moments where we feel vulnerable, exposed and lacking. The important thing is not shutting down that conversation. Be gentle with ourselves, look at why, see it for what it is – most often fear of not being enough – and then using new tools and skills to move through it.
That’s what I do. Instead of shutting down and pretending I’m not feeling that way, I look at the feelings, make sense of them, process them and let them go.
As I get underneath some of my deeper rooted issues around my body and my looks, my realization was that it’s not all about self love, self worth or self respect. Underneath that, it’s about about value. Women have been taught that our value lies directly in how we look. Yes, it’s good to be smart, intelligent, educated, independent.
But it’s better to be pretty and thin.
Value is defined loosely as the “importance or usefulness of something, what is important in life, the monetary value of something, or have a high opinion of“.
Women shouldn’t be ballbusters, but shouldn’t be a doormat either. We shouldn’t be controlling but we shouldn’t be weak. It’s good to have drive but not too much because it can be intimidating.
The constant mixed messages put our value squarely on how we look and behave. Despite all of my accomplishments I have always believed subconsciously it wasn’t enough unless I also looked a certain way, wore a certain a size, behaved a certain way.
Research actually shows that women don’t apply for jobs even when they have all of the qualifications and don’t look a certain way. They believe they won’t get picked because they are too old, not thin enough or pretty enough. Women assess the company culture before applying to see if they “fit”.
For women, it’s an integral part of our belief system. Our looks = our success. We’re measuring ourselves against a level of perfection that doesn’t exist. Thankfully there is more exposure to photoshopping and how it defines beauty. Yet society, and ourselves, still hold us to a standard of perfection that doesn’t exist.
Surgery for rib removal, toe removal, augmentations, butt lifts… it’s a craze to become perfect. In order to achieve it, we have to remove body parts because it’s otherwise not attainable.
These are the images we live up to. How can we find our own value in knowing we are good enough as we are… that we are already the perfect height, just the right colouring, just the right hair colour, eye colour… in a world that constantly tells us we’re not enough?
I can’t help but wonder if this is a deeper rooted issue than the last few generations of media sensationalism on women’s bodies. Women’s bodies have rarely been our own.
Imagine a time when women couldn’t run because they thought our uteruses would fall out? Or when we were property and not allowed to work or vote? Oh yes, that was actually less than 100 years ago, in 1st world countries. Many 3rd world and developing countries are still battling this today.
How do we find our own value in a world where women’s value has been calculated for generations? From dowry’s to marrying “right” to getting out of the house and not being a burden on the family.
Is it possible our value is a generational thing? It’s only been several generations of women who started to take back our power. Is our obsession with our bodies and looks passed down subconsciously from generation to generation?
I’m not stupid, I can list my accomplishments and I know that I’m motivated, driven, go getter, etc. But does any of it matter without also having the looks and the body to go with it? That’s where our minds go. That’s where our fear of not being enough stems. Even when we logically know we are. Subconsciously, is it a deeper rooted issue where women have had a dollar sign on their heads for generations?
I can’t help but wonder if this is not our current role in the body positive movement – not so much to overcome it in our own generation but to further the movement of women around the world to take back our power in life, to define our own worth on our own terms and own standards.
The rising of strong empowered women who, like the generations of brave women before us, are here to further the movement of women. Where we can one day have our value placed on the fact that we are human beings, on who we are, not on a checklist of traits we need to have.
I believe value should be the number one focus for women today. Try to answer the question – what value do I bring to this world – this job – this marriage – this parenting? It is then we can see how we’ve never thought of our value except to believe we don’t have any, if we don’t have the looks and body to go with our other accomplishments.
It is then we can see our own worth, fall in love with ourselves and have respect for ourselves so we no longer sell out and buy into the false promises of perfection to be enough (beauty, health, fitness industries). When we claim who we are, a natural beauty emerges, something that is not seen but is felt.
It is then we will also take care of our bodies because we value who we are as person not just as an object. Health us synonymous with looks because our value is tied directly to this. How we can take back our power is to define our own value, what we bring to the world simply because we exist. When we define our value, self love, self worth and self respect are much easier attained. I’ve found value is under those things and while on the surface they seem similar, they are not. I found loving, accepting and respecting myself as I am, where I am, was almost impossible until I started looking at value and how I really feel about myself.
It is OUR role as women to stop objectifying ourselves and our fellow sister. Stop measuring people on the yard stick of perfection. None of us will measure up and when we judge others it’s only to measure ourselves against them and strategically place ourselves in the right order.
If we want to take back our power in life, we need to start with ourselves. When we value ourselves we value others.
Let’s start with listing 5 things we value about ourselves. I’d love to know what they are or how you felt about the question. What is your awareness of your own value when you think about the question? How does it differ to you from self love, self worth?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments 🙂
PS… if you’re a wild souled woman who is working on self worth and value and reclaiming yourself, join my tribe on Facebook 🙂