I encounter girls on a daily basis who struggle with self-image. in New Zealand especially, we are silently told through the media and our social environments, that loving yourself is NOT OK. The “tall poppy syndrome” as we call it, is damaging the mindsets of young females in our generation, who are already struggling to see the good in themselves. As if puberty and womanhood didn’t make it hard enough already!
There is so much that could be spoken to with this topic. I don’t by any stretch have an answer to all of the issues we encounter as young women. But I can share what I have been learning, in the hope it will encourage you in your personal pursuit of identity and acceptance.
I wrestled for many years with a negative mindset; one consumed by thoughts that punishment was the only way to achieve a body I would like or love. Thinking that pushing myself to extremes and eating less than adequate portions of foods was the only way to possibly feel “good” about myself. I do not despise these times in my life for a moment, as they have taught me a lot. Unfortunately, learning what NOT to do can be much easier than learning what TO do!
More recently, I have taken an interest in looking at what my body needs to be healthy. Books like “Beauty from the Inside Out” by DR Libby Williams have been crucial in my latest revelations about Learning to Love Yourself. What I’ve discovered, is that shifting my mindset from what I “shouldn’t” eat, to what I “should” eat, has completely changed my battle from one to punishment and deprivation, to one of enjoyment and satisfaction. You see, there are certain things that your body absolutely needs. And when you give your body these vital nutrients, it begins to love you back. The good foods that your body craves will start to show on the outside. “Love your body and it will love you back” comes to mind, and certainly holds truth here…
Ladies, as much as it is tempting to stop yourself from eating certain foods, skipping meals, binge eating or engaging in harmful behaviours to counteract what you’ve eaten (we all respond to our struggles in different ways- no which way is worse than another); none of these choices lead to having a body that will LOVE you, or a body that YOU WILL LOVE.
Of course, eating is not the only way in which we help our bodies. Regular exercise is also so important for our health and well being. Recently, I have been carrying an injury which has really affected my ability to be physically active- I’m sure many of you can relate. I have learnt that doing what I CAN has still helped me on my journey of Learning to Love Yourself. Even if you can’t attend hard-core gym classes, run, or play sport, there are other ways to be active. It is just about accepting that you may not be able to do as much as you would like to. But the same rule applies; love your body, by respecting your current restraints, and watch your body love you back. For me, walks on the beach and swimming have been extremely therapeutic in throughout my injury-period. Six months after my initial injury occurred, I still can’t work out as intensely as I would like, but I know that when I take time out to walk (and I am feeding myself the good foods my body needs), I feel energetic, more positive and more enthusiastic about continuing my pursuit.
Girls, it’s not easy. I know what you’re thinking. We all have a journey we are walking. Embrace that, knowing that it doesn’t all get better in an instant, but we can commit to a journey together that makes it worth while!
For those of you who this post has spoken to, keep an eye out for my upcoming post- Five steps to Loving yourself: The Practical Guide for Young Women, for some specific tips on how to make this happen. Remember that this is a journey, but we’re all on it too!
Ask yourself, what is stopping you from pursuing what is BEST for you and your body?