In celebration of Thanksgiving, this post is about gratitude for....the body. This is about feeding ourselves with gratefulness for the body we have and all it's wonder.
Michelle the blogger behind Eating Journey, wrote this post called "Exposed" where she took a close up body picture of herself and wrote in what she loved and appreciated about her body. She tweeted me on Saturday 11/21, and got me exposed to her courage and authenticity. I loved it! Her post was an exercise in body gratitude, and she asked other women to join the body love and be exposed.
So here, "I'm exposed."
There is a synchronicity in this story which is why I felt brave to post a picture of me practically naked. Almost everyone I've seen do an exposed post has posed in a sports bra, bra, tank, panties, shorts which I would have done too.
I chose this particular picture because coincidentally I had already been doing some body loving/acceptance involving simply feeling comfortable and safe in my own skin.
This is a self portrait I shot on the morning of October 29 right out of the shower after a workout wearing nothing but a pair of white panties. No makeup. No hair products. It's just me au naturale in the morning sun light in the mirror. Before, to look at my body in the bright morning light was always a never type of thing because the light acts like a spotlight on the flaws. It's almost like basking in 7-Eleven lighting.
Standing in front of a mirror naked (by myself) has nearly been impossible for me to do...ever, but I've started doing it since I moved to Phoenix 2 months ago as a way to start feeling more comfortable in my own skin, and as a way to take my body back.
Moving back into our body
For those of you who read my now retired healthy living blog Back in Skinny Jeans, my life with my body had been one filled with much pain and trauma related to rape, sexual harassment, going on a 3-month medical leave for an emotional breakdown, an eating disorder, yo-yo dieting, depression, and perfectionism.
Prior to 2005, I'd spent the majority of my life not really living in my body because after awhile I learned that living in the body I was given was nothing but suffering. I never felt like I was allowed to feel enjoyment, desire, or pleasure in my body. It's much easier to be mean and abusive to your body when you've mentally and emotionally checked out of it. I've always hidden my body with layers of clothes or pounds of protection. In fact, up until recently, I never even owned a bathing suit.
I've spent almost the first decade of the new century in a journey to heal my past, the damage, and the pain. It was a very hard long journey, I won't sugar coat that, but it was worth it.
Where I find myself today....
I'm now in a place in my life where I feel I've come out the other end, where the caterpillar has ended the death and rebirth stage of the cocoon, and has now emerged as a butterfly. I didn't get a fairy tale ending, I got my life back....my authentic self. It's beautiful because it's real.
Blogging at Back in Skinny Jeans was great blogatherapy for me in that I could share with others both my progress and struggles including the "messy middle" of the success story. The blogging also gave me a way to find support and love with others in similar situations, and I was honored that I could be of help to others as well.
Carson Kressley is in my bedroom
For the past 2 months, I've been doing these "How to Look Good Naked" exercises where I pretend Carson is there with me, and he and I stand in front of the full length mirror in my bedroom. I'm naked or just wearing panties and we go through what's positive about Steph's body.
When I started doing these exercises in September it was soooo hard to do. I constantly found myself fidgeting and looking elsewhere but into the mirror at my body. Now, being naked is a pleasure because when I look in the mirror, I focus on what I have and love versus what I lack and dislike.
Celebrating being 30lbs lighter
I've lost 30 lbs and have kept if off 2 years come this January now. I am celebrating this success not because I can wear my skinny jeans again, but because I have created a life, a state of being where I'm not trying anymore.
I'm not trying to stay thin. I'm not trying to be an image. I'm not trying to be happy. I just am. Again, not perfect, but I no longer live with that constant trying feeling. In January 2010, the book version of Back in Skinny Jeans is coming out, and in the book I will share how I got to a state of not trying or fearing anymore and just being, and how that process got me to a place where healthy comes naturally.
Expressing thanks to the body
Today, I am experiencing pleasure in my body for the first time in my life which I never really allowed myself to do before. I know this sounds cliche but I can't describe it any better, but I am experiencing an awakening at 42 years old, and it's amazing!
I feel better in my 40's than I ever did in my 20's and 30's. I'm seeing the signs of aging but instead of frowning about it, I see it as the scars of learning lessons I earned which make for better tattoos as I wrote in this letter to my body.
Moving from the Bay Area to Phoenix has played a big part in that awakening, but mostly, I know this experience is happening for me because I am open to it. I'm finally allowing myself to experience the magic of the body, and it is a wonderland.
Posting a practically nekkid picture of me really is a big deal, mom is hyperventilating. I really felt comfortable and proud sharing this picture of me, and sharing my personal experience with others because what made me popular as a blogger @skinnyjeans was my authentic sharing of my own life experiences, and it fits in with my life purpose work which is to help others live more authentic lives...to help others connect back to their true selves.
With this picture, I wanted to show that:
- You can survive trauma and be safe in your body again and feel/experience pleasure and joy once more.
- The 40's is something to look forward to not dread in this youth-obsessed culture we live in.
- The naked body is a miraculous and beautiful thing and we should celebrate it and be grateful!
This Thanksgiving instead of being fearful of eating be joyful of eating and indulge in the pleasure of eating. Let your body (and you) have some fun for the day. And if you're up for it, get exposed too and share your experience with others as a way to help inspire more body gratitude!
Here are some other women who got "Exposed":
- A Merry Life Blog
- MizFit Online
- Ex Hot Girl Blog
- Roni's Weigh on We Are The Real Deal Blog
- Fabulous at 50 Blog