When I was in my late teens, I loved to wear high heels. I loved to exercise too. It helped me to keep fit and manage my weight without having to resort to crazy diets. So instead of driving, I used to walk whenever I could. Some might say I did this in the name of beauty, but if I’m honest, I did it in the name of vanity. I had a body image problem.
I loved my high heels so much I would walk in them for three kilometers to the train station. I would stand on the station platform, waiting for the train wearing them. Often the train was crowded, so I would stand on the train for 30 minutes. When I arrived at my train stop, I would walk half a kilometer to the fashion boutique where I worked. In those days, we were never allowed to be seen sitting down. We had to keep ourselves busy all the time. So I would spend every day at work standing in my high heels. At the end of the day, I would walk back to the station, stand on the train platform waiting for the train trip home, stand on the train for 30 minutes, then walk 3 kilometers back home. I would collapse in a heap when I got there. My feet were killing me, but I did this for four years.
Then one day, I really looked at my reflection in the mirror. I studied it hard and I did not like what I saw. There was pain in my face. It jolted me out of my vanity infused stupor. I stopped walking those kilometers in high heels when I realised that the pain in my feet was starting to show on my face. No-one could see that I was in pain. But I could. It was inside me and it was starting to make its way out. The pain became so great that it had overflowed. It was showing up on my face.
This was a big lesson for me, and if I let it continue, my inner pain would be externalised. Permanently.
Vanity makes my face look hard and cold. I often wonder if bitterness can put cracks into skin, making the face look dry and brittle. We become vain and bitter creatures when we compare ourselves to others. If it goes on for too long, we begin to look like caricatures of our selves as we inject our faces and bodies. We let the beauty industry slice and dice us. We pump it in and we plump it up. We remove it or relocate it to various parts of our body and face. We let jealousy and envy swamp our ability to change the real situation that is at the root of it. We are in pain, because somewhere along the way, we have forgotten to like ourselves. When I like myself it shows on my face. When I accept myself it shows in posture and the way I move. When I love myself, it shows in the quality of my relationships and friendships. I have to be very firm with myself. All the time.
I made a decision to think of the body image problem that is prevalent in society in this way: If I am happy with my body, then I don’t have a problem. If other people don’t like my body, then they have a problem. These days, if I’ve decided that I’m not happy with my body, before I rush off to buy more face creams, or make plans to increase my exercise regime, or try another diet fad, the first thing I do is examine my perspective about it. To do this, I try to figure out exactly what I don’t like about I body. I have to be ruthless if I want to be honest with myself. I have to identify why I don’t like it. For example:
I don’t like my feet, skin, nose, ears, mouth, bum, face and legs; actually, I don’t like my whole body.
Then I make a list of things I don’t like about each body part.
- I have big feet
- My skin is too pale
- My nose is too big
- My ears are too big
- My mouth is too big
- My bum is too big
- My face looks fat
- I have cellulite
- I can’t wear a bikini
Next, I ask myself which answers real.
- Which answers are, in all honesty, true for me?
- How true are they?
- What makes them true?
- Is each answer true according to what is best for my personal physical health?
- Are they true according to my instinct to survive and thrive?
- Are they true according to my emotional equilibrium?
- Are they true according to my mental health?
- Are they true according to my unique physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy?
- Are they true deep down in my soul?
- Further, are they true according to my doctor?
- Or are they true according to the opinion of my peers, or society’s opinion, or the media’s opinion, or popular, fashionable opinion?
Are my answers true according to other people’s largely unqualified perspectives and unqualified opinions? Or are my reasons true from my perspective and my unique health situation? To help me do this, I imagine that I have more than one body. I have a physical body, an emotional body, a mental body and a spiritual body. Each body has seven limbs. Each limb needs my love, care and attention. I focus on one at a time. My weakest limbs are those I attend to first. This tends to strengthen other limbs without too much effort. Test it out, to see if it is true for you.
The seven limbs of the physical body are:
- Physical survival
- Physical satisfaction
- Physical independence
- Physical healing
- Physical expression
- Physical intelligence
- Physical interdependence
The seven limbs of the emotional body are:
- Emotional survival
- Emotional satisfaction
- Emotional independence
- Emotional healing
- Emotional expression
- Emotional intelligence
- Emotional interdependence
The seven limbs of the mental body are:
- Mental survival
- Mental satisfaction
- Mental independence
- Mental healing
- Mental expression
- Mental intelligence
- Mental interdependence
The seven limbs of the spiritual body are:
- Spiritual survival
- Spiritual satisfaction
- Spiritual independence
- Spiritual healing
- Spiritual expression
- Spiritual intelligence
- Spiritual interdependence
Once I’ve worked out what I don’t like about my physical body, then I can see my doctor or a qualified natural health practitioner if I need to examine the reality of my physical symptoms. I can see a counsellor if I need to address the truth of my emotional or mental health symptoms. I can call on a spiritual mentor if I need to understand the truth about my spiritual symptoms.
Taking care of the weakest limbs on each of my bodies leads me in one direction only. Self-acceptance leads to inner peace. Inner peace shows on my face. Inner peace smooths my skin and makes it glow. When I feel good, I look good too.
When it comes to body image, some people never reach the stage, or sadly the age, where they are no longer concerned about what others think of their body. My path to vanity and bitterness is paved by constantly comparing myself to others. Vanity and bitterness become cemented into my life when I attempt to redesign my body according to the unqualified opinions, judgements, criticisms, perspectives and views of others. It takes a wrecking ball to break down cement. Instead of taking the wrecking ball to my body, I target the reasons why I have allowed vanity and bitterness to swamp my inner beauty and disturb my inner peace.
The reasons why we don’t like our bodies are worth the scrutiny. They need to be true according to our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual reality, and not according to other people’s opinions. This perspective introduced me to a great new way to get a bikini body. It’s really simple. I just put a bikini on my body.