Today it’s my pleasure to feature a guest post by Tiana Dodson, a coach and friend who writes about “being fat and winning at life by forgoing the old school belief that you have to be thin to live well and be well.” The images in this post are courtesy Sweet Amaranth.
When was the last time you truly took a look at your body? I mean all of your body, not just your face or your outfit, but your physical self in its entirety.
When I was younger, a full-length mirror was an absolute must have. It was always a priority because I needed to be able to see how my outfit looked so that I could better hide my muffin top, see if my most recent dieting endeavor was working, or obsess about the subtle differences in my body contour that were the result of my latest workout efforts.
However, since I’ve been on the journey to learning to love and accept my fat body, I no longer have the compulsive need to pick over and obsess about how I look. Learning to love my body has freed me from the need and compulsion to find flaws in my body.
Recently, I went on a mini-vacation, spending a weekend in a hotel. This decadent room had a huge mirror on the wall in the bathroom. Having had a baby a few months ago, I took the opportunity to check out my post-pregnancy body. Like many expectant mothers, I did the weekly belly photo documentary, so I was well aware of the changes my body had undergone during the pregnancy. But I was now curious what had been left behind months after giving birth to my son. So I stripped down, turned on all the lights, and took a look.
I did not expect what I saw. I was fully surprised by how much larger my body was than I had previously thought. My belly was fuller. I had stretch marks farther back than I expected. The skin on my belly, having been expanded and now again retracted, looked differently from what was in my memory. My breasts hung unfamiliarly. Even my thighs had changed, having become lumpier than before.
I immediately expected to be flooded with feelings of shame or sadness or disgust, yet none of these came. I simply felt the surprise of being larger than I supposed. I noticed a curiosity, a desire to further explore the changes my body had undergone. I knew that all those stretch marks and added pounds were due to the amazingness of my body—having grown and birthed a baby, even after a major abdominal surgery a little over a year earlier. In spite of the high possibility that my uterus would be unable to support a pregnancy, my amazing body astonished us all and did it anyway. I could not and cannot be ashamed of my new body because of how in awe I am at what it has accomplished.
But you can also be proud of your body even without giving birth. Every day your body does amazing things: it turns your meals into energy, it takes the air you breathe and renews your tissues and organs, it coordinates an impressive array of muscles, tendons, and bones to move you where you want to go. It is constantly rejuvenating and repairing itself. Your body is amazing in every moment of every day.
Taking the time to look in the mirror and examine yourself can inspire you to discover a new appreciation for the things your body has gone through and moved forward from. Taking photos of your body can help you to appreciate the beauty of it on the outside while honoring the power of what is inside. Go ahead and take a good, long look at yourself. You might like what you see.
Tiana is The Fat Health Coach helping large-bodied women learn to love their bodies because it is the beginning of the journey to health. Learn how to reunite yourself with your body at tianadodson.com/coach-with-me/rediscover-your-body/.