Stop Comparing Your Body

December 16, 2010

As a teenager, going to the beach was an ordeal for me on many levels.  First of all, I’m white as white can be and so, while my friends basked in the sun all day, I’d be burned to a crisp within about 30 minutes.  But, that wasn’t all…

While I was sitting on the blanket wrapped in several towels, a sweatshirt, and a hat, I’d watch the other women sun bathers and…yup, you guessed it, I’d compare myself.  Trust me, to my way of thinking I NEVER measured up.

Mostly, I would study the legs of the women walking by.  Were there any attractive women who were knocked kneed.  Nope…never.  So, I always, always felt self-conscious walking on the beach.  I just imagined that everyone who saw me snickered at the shape of my legs.

Of course, the key word there is “imagined!”  Never, ever in my whole life has anyone pointed to my legs and laughed (at least that I’ve been able to see). I, however, am excruciatingly aware of the fact that my legs are not straight.

I used to cringe at the thought of wearing shorts for gym class in high school and college, and I spent the 80’s (when short skirts were the only length to wear) standing with my left knee bent so no one could tell it was crooked.

Phew!  Thankfully, I have come to terms with the fact that my legs are unique and have learned to appreciate that they are long and healthy.  Sure, I’d be delighted to wake up one morning with straight (and could they be a little less white, too, please) legs, but it’s more a fun fantasy than a sad longing.

It saddens me to think of the amount of time I spent suffering around this when all the time my friends would say, “we don’t see it,” or “you must hide it well,” or “it’s barely noticeable so what are you so worried about?”

What about you?

Take a few minutes to reflect on these questions:

  • What body part do you scrutinize on other women and compare to your own body?
  • How does that make you feel?
  • Do you blow it out of proportion?  (Be honest here…)
  • What would happen if you stopped hyper-focusing on it?
  • Do you know what triggered it originally or what triggers your insecurity around it now?

What Do You Do Next?

  • Admit it bugs you, and (yes, this is important) commit to making peace with it.

o   Visualize yourself smiling compassionately at that body part.  (I know, it sounds a little woo-woo, but it really does make a difference.)

o   Acknowledge the uniqueness of who you are and that that’s part of what makes you special (think Barbra Streisand’s nose or Lauren Hutton’s gap between her teeth…)

o   Commit to learn how to dress to honor that part of your body (this means not trying to eradicate it or hide it under layers of fabric but acknowledging it’s preciousness as part of you and not dressing as if you think it’s an eyesore!)

  • Stop whining.

Okay, maybe you don’t whine, but I did for years.  Oh, poor me…I have knock knees.  Of course, since there’s nothing I can do about them, whining does nothing other than make me feel badly about my body.  Sure, I’d love to be able to wear skinny jeans (and perhaps with just the right outfit I can do it (although I have yet to find that)) but, hey, if I can’t without drawing attention there and feeling conspicuous then so be it.  There are plenty of other clothing options available that don’t accentuate my knees!

  • Become a master of drawing focus somewhere else.

o   Acknowledge 2-3 body parts that you love – do not skip this part!

o   Learn ways to draw focus there by using color, detail, pattern, accessories, texture, etc. to make a statement.

o   And, by all means, do not sit around looking uncomfortable because you are afraid someone will notice the offending body part, or don’t run from having your picture taken.  Dress in a way that makes your heart sing, hold your chin up and smile!  (So, yes, you might have to practice this a few times or you might have to get some coaching on how to dress in a way that makes your heart sing but each tiny step you take towards honoring your body will only boost your confidence and self-esteem, and there is no greater benefit!).

Here’s what I have learned: life is too short to spend bemoaning what we don’t have.  Celebrate what you do have (no matter how small it is to begin with) and you will always feel (and look) better!

Learn how to stop wasting money on things you never wear.
Get Ginger's free e-book and bi-weekly newsletter with fashion secrets.