|Source: Isabelle Bertolini|
As I started simplifying my life and closet, questioning my style led to many more questions about body image, identity, self esteem and confidence. Lately, I've been digging around the concept of "letting go", and I'd like to introduce it on my blog by discussing body image.
The very first element I realized when I decided to reset my style is that I was dressing to hide the aspects of my body I didn't like, and not according to my taste and body shape. This was mostly unconscious, a way to hold on to the idea that maybe, I could change these parts of my body I didn't like.
An example: my height
You may wonder: but how did I suddenly wear flats and feel comfortable about it if I was uncomfortable with my height in the first place? By letting go. I decided to let go of the idea of an ideal body that would be 15cm higher than mine. It is never going to happen, so I decided to accept my 1m56 and make the most of it.
Letting go of the idea of an ideal body
For the specific theme of body image, letting go means accept your body with all its flaws, and let go of an ideal image, whether it is one from magazines, a younger and slimmer you... This leads to accept one's body the way it is now, and improves self esteem quite dramatically. I am no psychologist or relooking professional, but I wanted to share with you a few ways I have found to let go myself:
Look at the globality of your body: When we have insatisfactions with our body, we tend to focus on details: ears, nose, breasts... I have learnt to look at my body in its globality, see how these "flawed" parts compensate with other wonderful parts, giving a whole body that is just fine the way it is.
Find a flattering style now: Many women I know wear, as I used to, outfits to hide their insecurities, which result in hiding the good things as well, and say they will change it when they lose XX kgs for example. I decided to change my style according to what my body looks like now. It doesn't mean wearing sexy things if it isn't what you like (and it isn't what I did), it means finding shapes, colours, associations that flatter your current silhouette and match your taste now. This can really do wonders to self confidence.
Practice some physical activity: I really started practicing sports a little over a year ago, and it did wonders to my relation with my body. During exercise, you feel a physical connection to your body, as the breath changes, your muscles contract... It is a way to remember that we are whole, we are our body, it isn't an alien thing, an enemy. Of course, it doesn't mean suddenly doing intensive sports or enter competitions, there are kinds of sports for anyone. It can be walking, yoga...
Become aware of external pressure: As I already discussed about, there is a very strong external pressure on our bodies, from society and media, but also from other women. Becoming aware of that external pressure helped me a lot getting to terms with my insecurities, as in, not only realize their existence, but also realize their impact on my body image. For example, I never liked my large hips, but I realized this little bump at the top of the legs are usually photoshopped out of pictures in magazines. Becoming aware on the effect of that standardized body shape on your body image can help a lot letting go of an ideal and accepting your body the way it is.
As a conclusion, I would say that letting go doesn't mean becoming inactive. Accepting your body the way it is now doesn't mean you have to stop taking care of it, or abandon long term objectives of fitness or weight loss. On the contrary, I realized that by accepting the current situation, I was much more motivated to implement changes and move toward a long term goal (in my case, getting more fit by practising sports).
Because you let go of an ideal, you don't have unreasonable expectations when you try to lose weight for example, you feel better in your body now, you apply less pressure on this objective, and you don't beat yourself up as much when you don't reach a certain objective in a certain amount of time.
In the end, paradoxally, because you let go of an ideal and accept the body the way it is now, it becomes easier to implement new habits and change it on the long term... What do you think? Are you familiar with the concept of "letting go"?