Loving my body by taking up space.

dancing skeletons

Loving my body has always been difficult. I have always been tall for my age, and never had the type of body I saw represented in the media. My weight has fluctuated with age, diets, and the intensity of whatever my movement practice was at the time…..if I even had one.

At a very profound moment in my life, I was intuitively drawn to study bellydance. This became a major shift for me and I’ll write more about that later. I was living in Chicago at the time and signed up for some classes with a woman who was recommended to me. She was a wonderful dancer. And while she never said anything to make me feel unwelcome, I began judging my movements to hers. Despite being a beginner, I felt discouraged because somewhere inside me I felt I would fail since I wasn’t 5’2” with six-pack abs. At 6’ tall, I towered over almost everyone in class. 

One night I called my best friend and we talked about these frustrations. She said something that I will never forget, and will forever be grateful for, “So what if you’re not tiny, that makes you even more powerful onstage. Take up that space.” 

I felt that message deep within me, and was reminded of it again a couple weeks ago. One of my clients pointed me to an incredible interview with Jessamyn Stanley. She wrote a book a few years ago called “Every Body Yoga”. Even if yoga isn’t your thing, I encourage you to listen to this interview. Jessamyn found a connection to her body through yoga, accepting wherever she was in each moment in each pose. Battling the concept of staying small so we don’t bother people versus taking up space and loving the light and dark sides of ourselves.

I have struggled with loving myself most of my life. Reading books and listening to people tell me I should love my body. But instant love is hard, especially when it’s internal, and love isn’t easy even when it’s for something/someone else. I will never be tiny, and while most days I don’t want to be, I still struggle with accepting and loving the body I have. I know that most of these thoughts come from the beauty standards our society has pushed and focused on. I know the more I surround myself with people of all sizes who love their bodies, I learn to accept and love mine. And when I’m regularly showing up to my movement practice, and dialing into my breath, I feel better regardless if it’s changing the way I look physically.

I have won races, pulled trucks, lifted sections of arena staging for concerts, caught myself before a fall, felt different climates with my skin, walked on several continents, told stories through dance, and had moments where the world fell away and I only existed in the space between my breath and my body. Those things could have been possible if I had been in a different sized body, but they happened in the body I had at that time. And for that I’m grateful.

As I continue moving through this life, I work daily on developing a better relationship and dialogue with myself. Every part of me deserves that. Each day is different, which is why I have different approaches. Here are some of the ways that I try to change my internal dialogue with my body:

  1. Spend a few seconds a day feeling grateful for one part of my body, whether it’s a fingernail, ear, or an entire appendage
  2. Focusing on feeling neutral towards my body, not unhappy or loving, just neutral
  3. At some point in the day, standing in a position that gives me the feeling of “This is my space and I’m taking it up. Woohoo!!!!”
  4. Marvel at how complex the human body is, appreciating how many things it’s constantly doing to stay alive and allowing me to function in this world (this is currently my favorite method of love)

I encourage you to discover why you search for a specific type of body, and how you can appreciate the one you have now. And if you want to work on creating habits around movement and mindset shifts, schedule a free discovery call with me.

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