There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t have taken a dress like this in the dressing room.
It was when I was at my “biggest.” It was when I loathed my body the most. And it was also when I had a massive 180-degree flip on body image for the first time in my life.
It was not quite five years ago. Yes, I was 39. Sad, I know. How I wish my “body image” was cured in my teens or twenties even.
A lot has changed since then. A LOT.
I learned to love myself at my biggest size — unconditionally. It was a gargantuan feat only possible with the Father’s love.
I then lost 25 pounds and got to the smallest size in my adult life. That happened right before I got pregnant on the eve of my 40th birthday. I had the best of my three pregnancies and dropped most of the baby weight rather quickly afterward.
Since then, I’ve continued the healthy lifestyle that helped me lost the 25 pounds. But I’m not back to that small size. Maybe I never will be. But I have taken all the lessons learned to in the last five years to create a lifestyle that is about health, not appearance.
- I love how I look in this dress. Because I love myself — inside and out.
- I had a moment where I wished my love handles were gone when I put it on. Mindfully noting this, I giggled. They help remind me of two things: 1. Looking at them in this moment won’t make them go away, so I have a choice. I can loathe them or love them. Loathing them takes far more energy and is so negative. I choose love. 2. I can use their existence to help me set a goal that’s focused on wellness, reminding me that I am still struggling with health issues that need my tools to address them. Tools that might also help the love handles melt away. But even if they don’t, the tools WILL help me feel better. And that’s what I really want.
- I am proud of how far I’ve come. It’s easy to be focused on perfection and not progress. Could I look better in this dress? Well, of course. But that’s hardly the point. The people who love me don’t qualify their love in how I look in the dress. Neither should I. My time, energy and focus is better spent celebrating the changes I have made to improve my health. And I’ve made so many!
- I have completely let go of the notion that my body image is tied to anyone except myself. Women can become so trapped in comparison — with media images, magazine models and even friends. I did a major sweep for traps like this in my life, and the result is a freedom like no other!
Body image shouldn’t be rooted in the number on a scale or whether we maintain weight loss or what we look like in a dress. It’s about feeling good about ourselves, a feeling that radiates from the inside out. My focus has often been how I FEEL about my physical appearance. But we are not the sum of our parts. To love my body is to love my soul. To see the value in myself as a whole person and to celebrate and be proud about how I look because of what’s inside. Because I am who I am, not because of how I look — no matter how great the dress is.