For many of us, accepting and loving ourselves is a lifelong battle—but it doesn't have to be. Here's how to stop chasing that illusive "perfect body" and start embracing the beautiful one you have. In the words of Ritu Ghatourey, "Life is too short to spend another day at war with yourself."
I have come to realize that happiness is hinged almost entirely on gratitude. And gratitude on perspective. Same goes for the level of happiness we have with our bodies. After I watch a touching TedTalk from someone battling a lifelong disorder, or read about a foundation fixing children’s cleft palettes in third world countries or learn about survivors of debilitating accidents, I immediately feel ashamed of my frustrations with my imperfect complexion, my belly pooch or my cellulite. My body is healthy and capable of amazing things—it can run on the beach, hike mountains, swim in pools, dance at weddings. It’s time to realize what a blessing that truly is, to celebrate what our bodies can do more than what they look like.
Stop Comparing and Competing
Our bodies, and our lives, are not a competition. No one wins in the comparison game. Someone else’s beauty doesn’t detract from your own. Life is an intricate puzzle of blessings and struggles. You wouldn’t trade all your precious relationships and experiences just to have legs like so-and-so, would you? And she’s probably wishing she had your butt. Let’s stop the madness and appreciate our own assets as much as theirs.
Realize Beauty Ideals Are Just a Trend
Pointy boobs, round boobs, flat boobs; tiny butts, big butts; full figures, muscles; curvy, svelte—all of these have been considered the ultimate in beauty at one time or another. It’s silly to feel bad for not fitting into a constantly changing mold that advertisers have deemed “in fashion” at the moment.
Learn to Love What You Hate Most
For me, and many women, it’s my thighs. I’ve always felt they were weirdly shaped, doughy, pale, immune to exercise. Aging’s addition of broken capillaries and cellulite hasn’t help, either. But, at the end of the day, they get me where I need to go. My fiancé thinks they're just right, my puppy thinks they’re comfy and even random children in grocery stores have run up to me and held onto them as if I were their mother. In their own way they’re powerful and beautiful. My point is, if we can all love—and forgive—what we hate most, the rest becomes a helluva lot easier.
Focus on Doing What You Love
Like my fellow editor Kimia wisely wrote, we need to learn not to place our self worth in how we look. Even if you love your appearance now—and dammit you should—age has a knack for making us redefine what makes us beautiful. The trick is to choose your currency, like Amy Poehler, as something other than your looks. Stop wasting precious time searching for the product or workout or diet that will “fix” you. Stop the quest for perfection—it’s a trap! An exhausting one. That makes other people money and us miserable. Yes, take care of your body, but treasure it instead of berate it. Use it instead of critique it. And then channel the rest of your energy toward learning, toward creating, toward being. Thrust yourself into your passions, your curiosities and your relationships so deeply you forget to look in the mirror. So deeply a new wrinkle or pound won't crush you. Your future self will thank you.