I love supporting women to pursue the best version of themselves. I want to share resources and tips to help you achieve your ideal lifestyle.
We’ve all shifted in the last year or so, and that’s a good thing. The world has started opening up after the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic. Things feel good again. What was unusual and made us feel uneasy, such as our inability to travel at will, see our family members, or simply feel like we were in a comfortable place, started to fade away, allowing us space to make the big decisions in our lives once again.
The lingering effects of the pandemic, as well as old perpetuating ideals about body image, continue to blast our self-esteem. These are the sort of things that keep us held back. I know even as I share how important believing in ourselves as independent women of the world is, there’s often still a whisper of comparison somewhere in the back of my mind. That’s why I try and focus on what I can do to feel beautiful and comfortable in my own skin on a regular basis. Come back to this and make your best effort to make this one of the most important things to do to keep you moving forward in your life.
You know you’ve been there, in a public dining area, allowing your glances to shift toward the other women in attendance. You may be struck by a woman’s svelte shape, and your mind starts with the comparison checklist: My shoulders aren’t as shapely, my legs are not that toned, why is my nose so weird?
As you gaze down at the scrumptious menu, your dining decision becomes impacted as well. You laser focus on the so-called healthy foods because, after all, how will your body ever change and be as good as that random woman across the cafe if you don’t?
Yes, I’m sure you see the ridiculousness of that statement. But that doesn’t negate the fact that women shift into the habit of body comparison almost automatically. Not only that, unlike men, our self-talk about said comparison leads us to talk down to ourselves. While that whisper of comparison turns into a scolding of criticism for us, men hear that comparison and feel hopeful. I imagine those men thinking: “Sure, I can get there.” Why don’t as many women have that same go-to thought?
There are many reasons. Patriarchy is at the heart of many of them. I mean, how else can society sustain a system where men are on top if not by constantly reminding women in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that they are not? This becomes ingrained in our minds from an early age, and continues as we mature.
The key is to be aware when you’ve shifted into this comparison mindset. When you start telling yourself you are not enough, become your own best friend. Turn your positive talk toward yourself. There is no reason for you to compete to be the best, the prettiest, the fittest… Continue to remind yourself that you are in charge of you. The healthy choices you make are for yourself, not to win any sort of competition with anyone else.
This leads us into the whole system of ways we are asked to change, even as we learn about the risks of body modification. Again, just as competition is a key component of patriarchy, we need to ask ourselves, quis bono– who benefits from these bodily changes? Anything from tattoos to breast augmentation is sold to us as a path to life satisfaction, but the truth is we have everything we need right within walking distance to make us happier. Are you really benefitting from decisions forced upon you rather than ones you make clearly for yourself? How much money is that really going to take?
See, you don’t need to make someone else rich and participate in a risky body modification to feel good about your body. Take a walk. Get together with your close friends and family members and find ways to simply move your body.
Taking on cosmetic surgery and similar is a big decision. It’s a financial burden. It draws on your emotions, and not always the positive ones (go back to number one, and ask yourself, why am I comparing myself to some unattainable ideal?). I’m not saying you should never take a risk. Whether we are talking about French design or discovering your dream career, risk is sometimes a part of life. But those risks help you move forward. Spend some time in the practice of meditation and ask yourself if the risks are worth the reward? If you are looking to reshape your body or lose weight, is it possible through diet and exercise instead? (Spoiler alert: You need to have movement and sustainable nutrition in your life no matter what you choose to do.)
I’ve had times in my life when I’ve felt low. Everybody has. Maybe I found myself in a comparison loop, or I thought that what I was doing wasn’t enough to be successful and happy. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these thoughts. It’s part of being human. The trick is to not stay in that comfortable place of distress. You may be thinking, no way, it’s not comfortable at all! But focus on how it feels to get out of your comfort zone.
It takes work to build up your self-esteem. Acknowledge it. Face it. If those around you are holding you back or getting in your way, part of the work may include finding new friends. You need to grow into the person you wish to celebrate, and you need people around you to celebrate you as well.
I will be thinking of this as I plan some upcoming trips. Take some time to journal about the following questions as you continue along your path:
1. How do I feel good about myself again?
2. How to feel good about life again?