The Compliment is in the Ear of the Receiver

I stumbled upon this article, “The Harmful Body Image ‘Compliment’ We Need to Stop Giving” on Hello Giggles, a few hours ago.

My first reaction was “right on, you go Mia Micozzi, I’m all for bashing negative self-talk and as a feminist (I am, aren’t I?) I’m obviously anti-objectification of women too…right?”

While I see the authors point, and applaud her for talking about body image, I happen to have had the opposite experience as her and actually find the “but men like it that way” argument to be potentially insightful and even helpful

We are often our own harshest critics and thus taking to heart sincere complements and feedback from others about how they see us can be help shift our own self-perspectives in a healthy way.

This morning my husband was sweetly and sincerely complementing me on how much he liked the way the jeans I was wearing look on me.  I offhandedly replied that I had bought them when we were living in Peru and that they didn’t look nearly as good on me then because I was about 10-15 pounds heavier than now.  He gave me a kind of sad and confused look and I realized that was an unnecessary and unhealthy thing for me to have said.

Tate and I have talked several times about how living in Peru was a hard time for me for a multitude of reasons, one being that I was, for my comfort level, overweight.  Every time it comes up he reminds me that he truly doesn’t remember that, not like he wasn’t paying attention but like he found me just as attractive, healthy, and fit as ever.

Last night a “naturally” thin and gorgeous friend commented how she’d never seen me naked but was sure I looked good judging from what she has seen of me.

(Okay, this is obviously out of context, it started around those naked celeb pics that leaked recently then went on from there to a fine art dance photo shoot I did recently where I was maybe going to be nekked (ended up in nude bra and underwear) then onto talking about how our young-thirtysomething year old bodies look even better than when we were in our twenties…anyway…)

My point is; this friend is petite and thin and lovely and cellulite free and stretch mark free and well proportioned and I am always a little surprised when she sees me as having a hot body. We’re similar heights but I’ve probably got about 20 pounds on her in thick bones, thick muscles, and straight up body fat.  At 5 foot 3 inches I often feel like a little person however next to her smallness I become aware of my…density.

Her comment brought to light some of my own distorted ideas of personal ideals.  For whatever f’ed up reason I figured that since she is lithe that would also be her idea of what looks good naked.

I’ve experienced this from the other side too, like admiring how great a friend looks in a bikini and being surprised when she expresses a distaste her her stretch marks because I don’t found them unattractive in the least.  Yet I find the marks on my own hips, butt, and breasts rather distracting and unfortunate.

Call me objectified but I am fine with admitting that other people’s (men and women, but men have most definitely made it well known that they “like it that way”) admiration of my round, strong, ample ass has made me see past it’s stretch marks, cellulite, and blemishes (tmi?) and develop some serious booty-licious confidence about my derriere.

Similarly, my tummy-ideals shifted after an old boyfriend told me that he didn’t care for the oft coveted “six-pack” abs on women and that he found my strong, thick, muscular, and a bit soft with a few rolls mid-section to be “perfect”.   On the same note, men letting me know that they liked my (as I see them) stubby and thick thighs and tiny tits has given me a new appreciation and acceptance for body parts that I haven’t always been thrilled with.

Allowing myself to “be objectified” has actually helped me get over some impossible standards that I was holding on to; a fat-free six-pack is not realistic for me nor is a small butt, and only good things can come from being comfortable and feeling attractive in my skin and I am only grateful that my husband is ready and willing to remind me that I am hot to him no matter how thick or thin.

So while I agree it’s bullshit to say “but men like it that way” as a means of creating self-acceptance perhaps we can use the reflection and perspective of others to find a kinder, gentler, more realistic way to treat ourselves and look at our own body’s.  It’s absolutely incredibly important to have a healthy self-esteem from the inside out but I don’t think that I’m alone in being very susceptible to other people’s (and media! and culture!) opinions and perspectives.

Let’s make a goal of cultivating positive self-talk, both in our heads and out-loud, and by all mean’s, women AND men, let’s keep the sincere flattery and positive affirmations about body image coming.

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All About Fall

I know I’m a bit seasonally obsessed these days but it’s all around me! Everywhere I turn there are signs of fall.

Especially the garden…

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I grew exactly two okra.  I don’t think this lovely plant will be taking up space in my garden again, although the flowers and height of it are pretty even without the spears to pickle.

The Red Russian kale has turned into a small bush.  It’s definitely less preferable to the tender young leaves but fills my greens need when everything else is picked over.

 

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red russian kale

My poor green beans.

I managed to harvest about a dozen total, the rest were devoured by the groundhog.  Those precious beans I ate were the best I’ve ever had; tender and sweet and eaten raw a foot from the garden bed from whence they grew.

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My sister gave me an asian greens mix seed pack for my birthday back in May.  The spring planted was started a little late and bolted pretty quick but I hit it just right for the fall (if not, as usual, to thick).

This mix is awesome, lots of different types of mustard (without fail Tate comments on how hot and spicy the greens are every time we eat them, I think he likes it).

I’m hoping that the chard and lettuce in back of this bed will keep on keeping on through the winter but if the Farmers Almanac prediction of cold months to come is correct they will be taken out with many a deep freeze.

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The only thing left to plant this year is garlic.  I haven’t planted it for a year or two but the first year (post here) I got great scaps and the tastiest garlic ever so I think I’ll spend a few minutes shoving cloves in the earth this week.

Wherever you are, whatever the season, I hope your day is filled with fresh air, friendly folks, and a veggie or two. :)

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Full Fall Blah

I was hit with a serious case of the Fall Blahs yesterday.  I can’t even “blame” it on the weather, after three days of downpours and gray skies it was, in my mind, the perfect Central Virginia fall day; warm but crisp, bright and colorful.

The change of the seasons can be hard on the body and this time of year often leaves me a little under the weather and at least a little unmotivated.  What’s a girl to do to shake off the blahs?

  • Get Outside

Rain or shine, cold or hot, night or day, fresh air always shifts my mood and perspective.  Yesterday I racked leaves, pulled weeds, and harvested salad greens from my fading fall garden.

  • Find a Project

If I’m already feeling a little low and unmotivated the best project for me to dive into is one that’s super easy to follow through on.  Yesterday this was pulling out the napa and green cabbages that I bought last week and finally turning them into kimchi and sauerkraut.  When I was done I felt accomplished and satisfied.

  • Embrace the Blah (or Check Out)

Sometimes a second cup of coffee, breakfast in bed, and an episode (or three) of Top Chef is just what the mood calls for.

  • Check In

Once that coffee kicked in and I got my ass outta bed I took a moment to check in with myself and figure out what it was that I needed to make myself feel…better.  Two things I came up with was to connect with other people and to dance, which brings me to my next two…

  • Exercise

Just like fresh air, exercise, without fail, turns that frown upside down.  At 10:30 yesterday morning I found myself in a dark studio with the music blasting and the disco lights flashing.  Do y’all know about this BodyJam class?  It’s a Les Mills (think BodyPump) class, which I’ve been lukewarm about in the past.  It’s great fun!  As with any class I’m sure the teacher makes it or breaks it but Brooke was great and about a dozen of us learned a club/hip hop-esque routine.

  • Connect with Others

This one happened spontaneously and really made my day, I ran into a good friend who I hadn’t seen in a few months as I was leaving BodyJam.   Hearing about her life, work, and adventures made me inspired and even talking to her about my Fall Blahs made them start to fall away.

Do you ever feel this way?  If so, what tools do you use to shake yourself out of it?

Lastly, and a pretty damn good solution for any situation;

  • Practice Gratitude

Fall is phenomenal and has it’s own unique energy and quality that is pretty awesome, even that blah that it can bring out isn’t all bad.  Plus, look at it!

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Happy Friday!

 

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