Full disclosure, I have always had a secret infatuation with Britney Spears and Taylor Swift. I am drawn by their beauty, style, and the confidence they exude. This past week, I had the opportunity to see both of them in concert. We totally splurged on amazing seats at both shows, and I am so glad we did – I got to check them out up close and personal. Britney, Taylor, and I share a common past: we have all had our bodies scrutinized – only my biggest critic was me.
This past year, I made a big commitment. I vowed to love my body. As simple as this sounds, it was scary to me because there was a good chance that I would fail. I respected my body…but did I love it? Not so much.
Over the years, I have been hypercritical of my body. I often had thoughts that my body was just not good enough. How embarrassing to admit, but I promise to you my readers- I will always be honest with you.
Because I am raising two little girls, loving my body became of the upmost importance. I want to be the ultimate role model for my girls. Both of my girls are built exactly like me! Their beautiful bodies are helping me to appreciate my own. It is only fair that I return the favor of encouraging self love.
If I was going to start loving my body unconditionally, I needed to understand why I didn’t love it. Where did these feelings originate? For me, this started early. I was a chubby kid and society had no problem shaming me for this. “She has such a pretty face, but…She is so strong, but…What a great athlete, but…She has such a great personality, but…”
But I became obsessed with proving them all wrong- I would be damn near perfect. I would make physical beauty a priority. And a priority it became...how exhausting. I was familiar with The Zone, Atkins, The Blood Type Diet, the False Fat Diet. You name the diet book - I bought it, and I tried it.
In retrospect, I am somewhat grateful that I was a chubby kid. If I weren’t a chubby kid, then maybe I wouldn’t have educated myself on healthy eating -- If I didn’t struggle early on, then maybe I wouldn’t have such a strong desire to help others achieve their best self.
Over the past year, I have committed to endless hours of promoting self-love. I reflected on all of the negative self-talk that I had done in the past, and I felt sad for the younger Ali. Thinking that my body was not good enough was tragic. There is no place for this type of thinking- not for me, not for anyone.
A new framework for my frame emerged:
“My body is good-enough just as it is.
It isn’t perfect... but it will never be…”
I realized that perfection is not attainable. That may sound obvious to you, but for me, it wasn’t… Once you settle on the simple fact that there’s always something about your body that could be better, it takes a lot of the pressure off. This freed up time for me to love the beauty of my body.
It has always been easy for me to appreciate my green eyes, dark hair, and olive skin – but loving my frame? Now that’s another story. For years, I critiqued it for being too bulky. I wasn’t appreciating that this was the same body that had earned me a Division I athletic scholarship… The same body that allowed me to grow and deliver two humans… the same body that allows me to run down a hallway and resuscitate a premature baby.
Discovering self love allowed me to show more kindness to others. One of my favorite things is to study strangers and send them a silent compliment. I have discovered that I love imperfection, and I am enjoying the process of embracing its beauty.
I was at the nail salon the other day. Two young women, maybe early 30s, sat down for a manicure. The women on the right was tall and fit and gorgeous. Her friend was shorter and heavier, but she was equally as gorgeous. Why did I find two very different women equally gorgeous? Confidence!!! They both exuded this amazing confidence. It filled me up.
Ok, now back to Britney and Taylor. I stood at those shows in awe of these two women. I couldn’t stop looking at Britney’s strong back, and I seriously couldn’t get over how Taylor has really come into her own. Taylor is obviously hitting the gym- her thighs are fuller and truly glorious.
Now here is the best part. I loved their bodies, but I didn’t want their bodies. I wanted the exact body that I stood in. I wouldn’t trade this body for anything- imperfections and all. My quest for perfection is over, and I couldn’t be happier.
Start today. Evaluate your relationship with yourself, and decide how you can best take care of yourself. We get one short shot to life this life. Please don’t waste your time criticizing the vessel you have been given. Embrace all of your beautiful imperfections.
Oh, and Taylor wanted me to tell you, “You’re Gorgeous!”