Storytime: How I Caught Myself in Body-Shame

Something’s been gnawing at me lately and for a bit of time, I wasn’t actually aware of what was really going on, but now I am. By sharing my moment of awareness and how I’m choosing to respond to it, I’m hoping today’s blog helps you too.

So here goes…

As the weather has gotten warmer the last couple months, I’ve been wearing fewer sleeveless shirts. If I did wear a sleeveless shirt, I wore a shrug or wrap over it. The a/c is oppressive in some places so having a little cover up made sense. Or did it?

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good shrug or wrap…kinda my thing and definitely staples in my wardrobe. However, it turns out my recent choices weren’t purely fashion driven.

Here’s how I know. I was in a clothing store two weeks ago when I was perusing a section with really cute summer shirts – all sleeveless. I started to think what I could wear over them and THAT’S WHEN IT HIT ME! I was in body shame, trying to hide my fluffy, scarred and creased arms from the world.

Uggghhh, I felt sick in that moment. And not about my arms. I was feeling shame for falling prey to body shame – something I teach others in my coaching practice how to break free from. I felt out of alignment; like a fraud.

I also felt a deep sadness and anger. Not in a self-pity sort of way, but more like “really, I’m STILL dealing with this $h*!?”

You see, after I had gastric bypass surgery back in 2008 and lost all the weight I believe I needed to live a full, healthy and vibrant life, I had cosmetic skin removal surgery on different parts of my body. My arms included.

The skin removal surgery on my arms didn’t go as I’d hoped. The recovery was painful and the pain lasted for months afterward. Beyond that, I developed these creases in my arms. I was ok with having long scars all along the back of my arms, but to wind up with creases was embarrassing and drew more attention to my arms. I went so far as to have corrective cosmetic surgery on my arms and it didn’t work.

I was self-conscious for a period of months after both surgeries – particularly while the pain still lingered. In hindsight, I’m grateful for the physical pain because it was the kind of body feedback I needed to inwardly heal.

The physical pain reminded me often to look at and feel my arms, and ultimately accept them. I would stare at them in the mirror and on good days say loving and kind things; on not so good days, I was disgusted, worried and angry.

The healing journey of accepting my fluffy, scarred and creased arms wasn’t easy, but I knew in my soul, my beauty, my worth and what others thought of me had nothing to do with my arms unless I chose to believe that. I do not believe that.

I used to believe my worth, and the degree to which people would love, accept and respect me, was totally tied to my size, weight and outward appearance.

I no longer believe that. I know now, with unshakable certainty, that belief is simply BULLSHIT! There’s really no other way to say it.

Believing that any outward physical attribute you have is so hideous, disgraceful or offensive as to define your worth, value, lovability and opportunity to live a full expressed, healthy and vibrant life is a toxic and soul-crushing belief. And sadly, millions suffer with this toxic belief, a.k.a. body shame.

I know I have the power to be the change I wish to see in the world. My contribution is to accept my physical body through all phases of my human existence and express my acceptance in the way I present myself and show up in the world with others.

Here's some truths I also live by:
-- I’ve been many sizes in my lifetime and that’s ok. It doesn’t define me.
-- I’ve nourished my body poorly at times; great at other times; and very often of late like a science project. It’s ok. I’m learning. I’m growing. I’m accepting.
-- I am not my physical body – I am how I choose to show up in the world; how I treat myself and others; how I am of service to others and contribute to others; the way I choose to perceive the world around me and how I respond; and how I choose to nourish my mind, body and soul on a daily basis.

Today, I can honestly laugh out loud at the absurdity of trying to hide my arms from the world for fear of judgment, ridicule or embarrassment.

As though the physical appearance of my bare arms is going to make me more or less qualified as an Eating Behavior Coach or more accepted as a wife, friend or business associate. Hogwash!!

I will still wear shrugs and wraps, because I like them and if I think it will look nice with my outfit, but not because I’m trying to hide my arms from the world. I am not ashamed of my arms or any other body part.

I choose unconditional self-love and self-acceptance. I hope you do too!  If you want to learn how, contact me, I can help.

If you liked today’s blog, tell me why in the comments. And if you think someone else could benefit from today’s message, please share it with them.

Thank you.

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