A few weeks ago, I saw an Instagram post by Jennifer Rollin that caught my attention. She is a psychotherapist, specializing in eating disorder and body image, and her posts are always great. She shared an article she wrote for Huffpost called “You Don’t Have to Try To ‘Get Your Body Back,’” and in the caption she said something that really stuck with me- “Our bodies are not slabs of marble.” They aren’t meant to always stay the same! We change all throughout life, yet we often become discouraged when our bodies don’t stay the same. Whether it has to do with the shape of your body or the smoothness of your skin-it is going to change at some point.
I’m assuming most of you here reading are women, and you know we have several transitions that bring body changes. Men do too, obviously. During puberty, girls gain weight. We NEED to! It is necessary for proper reproductive health. I really wish we included this as part of health education for young girls. Maybe they do now? Many women gain weight during menopause, and it is hypothesized that it helps women produce more estrogen. For more on that, check out Jennifer’s linked article above. Your body will probably change outside of these biological phases, too. The good thing is that your body knows what it needs to do. You don’t need to stress about it.
Another time of body change is pregnancy/delivery. I don’t have personal experience with this, but I am often frustrated by how women’s bodies are discussed around pregnancy. I recently read an article by Chrissy Tiegen about postpartum depression. She made a comment that everyone congratulated her on losing weight quickly after having her baby, but in reality she was too ill to eat. Why don’t we focus on getting women support they need during this special and challenging time rather than put the pressure on to lose weight? Why are we telling women to go get their body back? Where did it go, anyway!?
We are not meant to look how we did in high school for our whole lives. When I was in college and my body changed, I panicked. This is one of example of how scaring the bajeezus out of incoming college students about the “freshman 15” can be harmful. Instead of realizing that I was maturing and growing into my adult woman body, I panicked that I did all of the “wrong” things we were warned about at orientation. I suddenly was scrutinizing photos of myself, comparing them to others from a few years prior. This is just an unhelpful exercise-comparing ourselves today to our past selves in a negative light. We change internally and externally throughout life, and we don’t need to freak out or try to micromanage it.
This is a good lesson for me, too. I don’t typically look in mirrors for very long. I don’t wear makeup to school so I’m usually just putting on moisturizer and running out the door. Earlier this week, I noticed some lines under my eyes I hadn’t seen before. Even though I preach self love it made me panic a little!
Ok feel free to roll your eyes at me. You may be wondering, “Why is this twentysomething complaining about aging?” I share this because it was a reminder that we change throughout life. At first, I was like, “Oh gosh, I’m definitely getting older!” Once I thought about it a while, my thinking shifted to, “Yeah, I am getting older. This is what happens. Why would I expect to look the same forever?” I’ve laughed with my family and friends, cried, and struggled through some hard classes to get those lines. Our “signs of aging” are really signs of LIVING. They show that we have been through stuff to get where we are today.
I know that getting on board with body changes throughout life isn’t easy. Our society tells us do to everything we can to take up less space and to fight changes in our bodies. It has taken me years to be as comfortable in my skin as I am today, and sometimes my insecurities still sneak up on me. When I have a moment or day that I’m down on my body or appearance, something else is usually going on. I’m stressed, or feel inadequate, and instead of facing it I take it out on myself. If that’s what is going on, acknowledging it can help.
Beyond that, getting through those bad feelings about your body/appearance, especially during times of change, really comes down to knowing that you are so much more than your body. Of course it is important to feel comfortable in your skin, but when it comes down to it, your body is just the vessel that allows you to do awesome things. I’m pretty sure at the end of my life I won’t wish I had spent more time trying to get rid of wrinkles and cellulite. 1) Those things are normal and don’t need to be fixed, and 2) I want to do so much more with my time.
Your body is good how it is right now. You are good just as you are. Now get out there and do something awesome, and thank your body for allowing you to.