The first thing on my to do list while Andrew is away is to look better naked. But I don’t think we can tackle the hot body topic without first getting to the root of it all- my body image.
My sister was always a bit heavier than Nikki and me. She was always trying to lose weight. My dad even told her he’d give her $1000 if she could get to a certain weight. And she did it. She knew nothing about nutrition and ate 800 calories a day to achieve it. The 800 calories included a frozen burrito. She passed away suddenly at the age of 28. One of the first things I remember thinking was- What a waste of life and happiness for her to worry about something that is so insignificant. She was perfect.
I think women’s bodies are beautiful. As a straight, married woman, if I had to choose between looking at a naked man or a naked woman, hands down it would be the woman. I love the grace of her body, the ability to grow and feed humans, the curves, the beauty in the skin … ( I said I was straight , but Andrew’s been gone for nine weeks and I’m not so sure anymore.) Anyway, women are gorgeous. There’s nothing more attractive than a confident woman, who can rock an outfit at any age or size. I don’t think rolls, stretch marks, loose skin or cellulite should stop anyone from wearing whatever they want. Pretty much all men and women have at least one so why are we so ashamed of it? We are so much more than our bodies. But it’s so much easier cheering others on than actually living it yourself.
Of all the things I struggle with, this is the hardest. It doesn’t matter what I look like, dress like, or what people tell me, how I view my body is determined by me. Where do I even begin when it comes to my opinion, relationship and perspective on my body?
I was 14 when I began looking at my body. It was likely because I gained 10 pounds (from puberty) to 116 pounds. That same summer, I had visited my aunt in Taiwan who told me that I’d be pretty if I lost some weight and didn’t have acne. (Don’t you love old people? Asians are worse by the way.) I recently found a journal of mine from that age where I had jotted down measurements of my body and took notes of where I’d gained and lost. It sounds contradictory, but at this time, I wasn’t insecure with my body at all. I was actually pretty confident.
A few years later, around 18, I started picking apart a few things. I remember standing in the mirror finding cellulite on my left thigh for the first time. I remember lifting my butt and pulling at my inner thighs. The following year, I made Jazz which were some of the best years of my life. But it was the first time people were actually looking at my body- half dressed. And as a performer, you’re paid to look good. We’d stand around talking about who had awesome abs and great legs and it was hard for me because I would compare myself to some of the most beautiful, smartest and funniest girls around.
Then came marriage and kids and my priorities shifted from vanity to caring for my family, which I take most pride in. I lost the baby weight pretty quickly, but it was when I went back to work and didn’t get much sleep that the weight came on. I sit all day at a desk and the darn office brings enough doughnuts, cookies and cupcakes to feed a small country. We celebrate with food and when we travel, we enjoy the food. I have been known to clean out my mother-in-law’s pantry and I have a earned the reputation of devouring all the sweets and stealing yours when you’re not looking.
And so here I am, wishing I would have appreciated the body I had ten years ago. I sometimes cry when I get out of the shower as I look at my body in disgust. I’ve added a few more dimples to my butt, some extra weight, a few more scars, a couple stretch marks and extra skin that gravity has succumb to. I hate wearing a swimsuit, although I love buying them. I wish my legs were longer. I don’t like anything tight around my belly and I wish my butt was a little bigger, tighter and higher. So yes, I’d love to walk around naked looking like a VS supermodel with curves like the Kardashians and muscle like Carrie Underwood. But I don’t think it really starts with a salad and treadmill.
A healthy body starts with a healthy mind. You’re supposed to love and respect your imperfect body enough to want to care for it, not change it because you hate it. I understand that this is how it’s supposed to be but I’m on the other side unsure how to navigate my mind to the “right” side. Experience has shown me that with my current mentality comes self-sabotage, stress, guilt and failure. But I don’t know how to love myself without first fixing the physical. How do you change your mindset?
To start, a friend told me to start paying attention to how I speak to myself. Once I start being nicer to myself consciously, I’ll start to believe it subconsciously. So I’m starting with daily affirmations to get my mind ready for the day. Jennifer Lopez starts her days this way and if it works for JLo, I’m doing it and you should too.
I put together a list of daily affirmations to read to myself each morning. (The list is here if you want to join me. I printed, cut and laminated.) I keep them in the bathroom where I get ready so I can look at myself in the mirror and read them aloud a few times like a psychopath. They mostly focus on body image and self-love.
Here’s yours for today: YOU ARE ONE SEXY BEAST. And you’re probably a woman, so when you’re feeling down, remember that I would choose to see you naked. You’re beautiful and you’re welcome.