I just saw the most amazing snippet of a documentary called Killing Us Softly 4. Jean Kilbourne spoke so articulately on the media, the depiction of beauty, how unrealistic it is and the pressure it creates to attain such beauty which always ends in feelings of disappointment and guilt when we fall short of the unattainable standards of beauty.
This is something that touches my heart. As a woman there has always been an expectation (as there are with all women in society) to look/act/think/feel certain ways. Being a black woman has shaped my experiences even further. Fortunately I was raised by an amazing woman who was aware that women who look like us were misrepresented or often not represented in the media – keep in mind that this was 30 years ago and things have changed a bit since then. However I remember questioning my beauty, the beauty of my hair, the beauty in my shape, my body, my flaws and it wasn’t until 7 or 8 years ago that I began to question my own relationship with self love, self worth and self esteem. What did I see when I looked in the mirror? More importantly, what I loved when I saw my reflection. How did I feel and what did I think of myself?
One thing I remember noticing was that I didn’t know what loving myself looked like. I had never had that conversation so I began by asking how I love the people in my life and went from there. Over the years my relationship with self has blossomed and roots have grown. I show myself love in ways organic to to me. Confidence and self esteem have grown 10-fold and a strong knowledge of who I am has also grown from that. Looking back it’s been a wonderful, gory, honest and beautiful journey. As always, it is a work in progress.
This conversation lead me to looking at our relationships with health and I find that they are intrinsically linked. Knowing thyself, loving thyself and having an open dialogue with your body is incredibly important and those things are simultaneously nurtured as we explore what works for our bodies.
I had an amazing conversation with an awe-inspiring soul sister yesterday about this same journey, the expectations and sometimes the guilt or judgment that come with the road to healthy. Having studied and exercised healthy habits from ways of moving my body to implementing various approaches to eating and encouraging clients to do the same then battling cravings, urges and sometimes giving into them. Having a cigarette with a couple of glasses of wine once in a blue moon still gives me pleasure. I go through a process of judgment, guilt and shame, and once I’ve let go of that I make a point to remind myself that my journey is my own and that it is not smooth nor free of all toxins, but not shaming myself and making a point to let go of the judgment is as important as becoming more healthy and doing what is right for my body.
Our journeys are just that. They are ours. We all have to begin from somewhere and the roads we walk along are filled with opportunities to seek a deeper understanding of our bodies and ourselves. As long as we do so from a place of love and acceptance and keep that open dialogue with our bodies, I don’t think there is anything to judge.
Being transparent about our journeys will help us all to rid the shame and guilt. Sharing honest tales of the road to becoming our happiest and healthiest selves will create a necessary support system that will also help us to be less critical and more loving. This is exactly why I’m sharing this with you. I’m still very much learning and evolving. The fact that I am helping others along their journey doesn’t change that. We’re all in this together and the more we let go of the shame, judgment and guilt (things that are essentially holding us back), the more we love ourselves and each other, the more fun and healing our roads to health and happiness become.
Thank you for being a part of my journey and for continuously inspiring me.
Sending love, light and joy to each and every one of you.
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