I have cellulite and I still love my body. Can you imagine?! Loving your body despite it’s very common and normal imperfections? Giving yourself grace instead of putting yourself down? Speaking to yourself with kindness and compassion rather than disgust and disappointment?
Thankfully for me, this is a reality. I do love my body at every stage of it’s existence; I do feel powerful in my skin despite the presence of cellulite, gray hair, and wrinkles; I do believe that I can love myself and still strive to be a higher expression of my being.
I’ll be honest with you, a few years ago, I couldn’t imagine such a possibility. The mere idea that I would ever not refer to myself as a “work in progress” was just completely out of reach; the concept that I would ever feel comfortable in my body, as is, was extremely foreign.
And what’s especially sad about this is that I’m not alone in this line of thinking. Women who engage in negative self talk and succumb to societal pressures of perfection are the majority, not the minority. In fact, most of the women I know either feel ashamed of their bodies or have felt ashamed at some point in their lives.
This is the fundamental struggle of the modern woman–and it’s total nonsense.
It’s ridiculous that we should ever feel unworthy based on whether or not we have “abs” or the media considers our body “bikini ready.” It’s ridiculous that women all over the world feel less-than based on their body fat, weight, or presence of cellulite. It’s ridiculous that we aren’t standing powerfully and unapologetically in our own skin–because that, in truth, is our natural environment.
We are all powerful and unique in our own right, and our worthiness is not debatable. It isn’t determined by our body, our career, or the number of “likes” we get on an Instagram post. It doesn’t decrease as our body fat and age increase. It can’t be challenged unless we allow it to be.
So what gives? Why are so many of us allowing our worthiness to be challenged by our bodies, our status, our age? Why are we trading in our inherent feminine power for feelings of “never good enough?” I believe it’s a combination of childhood trauma, external pressure, and societal conditioning–but perhaps an even more relevant question: How do we stop this madness?
Stop the Madness by Committing to the Work
I won’t presume to tell you that it’s as easy as making the choice to love your body and own your power. I won’t lie to you and tell you that all you have to do is look in the mirror and say “I love you.” Because the only thing more fictitious than our loss of worthiness is the idea that you can simply reclaim it with trite notes and “positive thinking.”
Reclaiming your worthiness is hard, painful, committed work. Sure, you have to first make the decision to love your body and reclaim your power, and yes, reversing the way you speak to yourself and welcoming expressions of self-love are worthwhile strategies. But the real work happens when we touch the painful places that brought us out of our worthiness in the first place.
If we really want to step back into our feminine power and take back our worth, we have to be willing to open wounds, lean into pain, and ask difficult questions. And this, I believe, is what so many people who encourage us to “just love ourselves” are neglecting to tell us: Learning to love yourself can really hurt and we have to get a little uncomfortable so that we can truly heal.
We have to develop the courage to look deeply into the abyss and reframe the entire narrative that led us into unworthiness. We have to relinquish our role as a victim in our story, and even strip those who hurt us of their villain roles. We have to be willing to strip ourselves bare and face all of the painful, ugly thoughts that we’ve given so much power.
Reclaiming our worthiness is work, but it’s the most worthwhile work we can do.
How to Begin the Work
I know I said it’s not as simple as just choosing, but choosing is an important step in the process. Yes there is work to be done (and fun to be had!) but none of this work can commence until we make the choice to stop being a victim of our past, our narrative, or our external environment.
A powerful way to commit to this choice is to create your own personal mantra. Your mantra should reflect feelings of love, power, worthiness, and compassion, but it can be as simple as, “I choose to stand in my power.” Mantras are extremely powerful because they provide a simple tool to bring us back to a space of worthiness.
Remember the work I was talking about? This is the meat of it right here. For so many of us wounds of our childhood have kept us from feeling a real sense of connection, belonging, and self acceptance. Childhood trauma comes in all shapes and sizes, from the more obvious atrocities such as physical and sexual abuse, to the less obvious such as enmeshment, neglect, abandonment, and perfectionism.
Going into our past to face our root wounds is painful, scary, and extremely powerful. It gives us the chance to reframe our narrative, letting go of victim and villain roles, and truly hold space for our child-selves. But in my experience as a coach, opening these wounds can take us right back to the moment when we felt abandoned, abused, and neglected–so it’s important that we’re prepared to lean in and not run in the other direction.
In every possible opportunity, practice extreme self compassion.This means that sometimes you have to leave the dishes in the sink, skip a workout, or eat a cheeseburger–and not torture yourself endlessly for it. It requires trust in your ability to care for yourself and a constant reaffirmation that shame and disgust are not effective tools for change.
Compassion is a daily commitment, and it’s one of the most powerful tools you can use to shift your mindset, especially when it comes to your body. One of the easiest ways to do this is pull out your journal every morning and write down 3 things at which you are totally proud of; this shifts your focus from the things you beat yourself up about to the things that make you feel accomplished and alive.
Channel Your Energy Into Things That Make You Feel Powerful
Channeling your energy into how your body looks is an intention destined for failure. All this does is make your body your main focus, and keeps your from seeing how much you have to offer the world. A more advantageous approach is to direct your energy toward things that make you feel powerful—things that aren’t at all affected by your cellulite, body fat, or corporeal imperfections.
I channel my energy into my writing, as well as specific strength goals that have nothing to do with my cellulite or body fat. Through these activities I harness my energy in ways that make me feel accomplished, instead of ways that break me down. The fact that I can use my writing and my stand on physical strength to help empower women all over the world is so much more meaningful to me than a number on the scale could ever be.
Maybe you want to learn how to consistently love and accept your body, despite what you think are flaws. Maybe you already possess a significant level of body acceptance, but you want to make it more effortless and automatic.
No matter why you’re here, I’m so glad you came, and I’d like to invite you to join me on one of my favorite weeks of the entire year: Bikini Rebellion Week!
This rebellion is all about taking back the bikini body—for women everywhere, of all shapes and sizes. Each of our body’s has a unique and beautiful story, and this challenge is all about celebrating those stories.
I created this challenge because over the last few years I’ve gotten fed up with the seemingly endless influx of “bikini body” programs out there. These programs promise to produce a “bikini worthy” figure, and while I’m sure that some of these programs actually work, it’s the meaning behind them that fuels my fire.
These bikini programs operate under the fallacy that the only way to be “bikini ready” is to sport a taut, trim, flawless figure. Society tells us that a “bikini body” is something that we don’t already posses, and that we will only be worthy once we conform to it’s standards.
The bikini rebellion is here to prove them wrong.
*Neghar Fonooni, fitness & lifestyle coach, entrepreneur *Founder: Eat, Lift, & be Happy negharfonooni.com.