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  • Writer's pictureMental Gear Closet

The day I stopped hating my body

Updated: Mar 17

My dad was so concerned about my lack of weight gain as a teen that he threatened to pull me from competitive swimming.  My mom would find me sitting in the grocery store aisle obsessively pouring over nutrition labels on food products.  And at a swim meet, I once saw a fellow female athlete with a concave stomach.  This was most likely due to the momentary, dramatic in and out of heavy breathing from a recently finished race.  But at that moment I thought “THAT’s what I want my body to look like too.  I want my stomach to go in, not out.”

I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder and genuinely believe that I narrowly yet legitimately escaped meeting full criteria.  But what I have fought for decades is a battle that millions of us experience … a persistent loathing of my body and its parts.

This post is not about an evidenced-based theory or textbook coping tool.  Rather, it is a personal account of what finally helped shake the rigid negative body image thoughts for one real life therapist and woman.

The day I stopped hating my body .. I was getting ready in the morning.  Per usual, I noticed the excessive roundness of my face and dull dirty blonde color of my hair amongst what I perceived to be my many other flaws.  Ugly!  I felt vastly inferior to the women in my circle who shared the sexy, dark, angular features I could never replicate.  The negative internal criticism that ensued was vicious, but not new.

And then it hit me.

Wait … I did not choose my appearance and so neither this body nor I are some mistake made.  Rather, I am quite literally a direct compilation of centuries of women and men across a sweeping landscape of countries and time periods.  Every part of my body is a mirror into both recent and ancient history, spanning thousands of years while also including some of my dearest loved ones.

Given this, I realized that by hating the physical form I was gifted, I was inadvertently feeling ashamed to look like those who gave me this gift.  Would I walk up to them weeping and say “I am embarrassed to look like you!  Why did you make me this way?!”  Of course not!

Instead, if I could meet the people who have shared their lineage with me I would say, “It is such a miracle to meet you!  Show me around.  Where do you live?  How do you spend your day?  What does the world look like in your time period?  Show me everything.”  I would be enthralled by their unique features - hair, clothes, appearance, mannerisms - which I would find intriguing and beautiful.

In that moment I abruptly decided that instead of comparing myself to transient present day trends, or peers, or artificial and touched up images in our media, I would remember what I am made of.  I would remember that my round Polish cheeks, and the color of my hair, and my stutter, and the size of my thighs, and every other part of me is a precious relic of these hundreds of generations which I am honored to carry forward.

While there are still many moments when the strong current of societal influence disturbs my confidence, what I refuse to let it tarnish is my unshakable belief in where I come from and the expansive, beautiful history I represent.

To all that have come before me, thank you.  I love you deeply, am beyond grateful for you, and hope to serve your memory with honor and grace every day.

Your loving daughter, 


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