I was watching a Youtube video of one of my inspirations, Shameless Maya, and it is titled How to Look Better. It is a video tag that she’s doing in which she discusses 5 tips on how to look at your life better, where to improve and what to appreciate. I loved the video and since I don’t have a Youtube Channel, I decided to participate in the video tag but blogger style. So here we go. 5 tips on how to look better in 2015, body compassion edition
1. Look at—pay attention to—the way you talk to yourself.
If I asked you right now to give me 5 things you say to yourself regularly, would they be positive or negative? Are you your biggest cheerleader or your greatest bully? Are you compassionate with yourself or self-deprecating? From experience, I’ll tell
you that the self-talk is generally incredibly abusive. You are lazy and worthless, mediocre and unintelligent. Nobody likes you or wants to be around you. That guy doesn’t like you, he’s just talking to you because he’s bored. Nobody cares about what you have to say, please stop talking. This is just a sample of the negative talk I used to engage in. Awful things that I would never let anybody say to me, that I would never say to anybody, that I would never let anybody say to themselves. But when it came to me, my abuse threshold was set absurdly low and I would tear myself to pieces. So I invite you to pay attention to the things you say to yourself and choose, choose, choose to say no to the self-abuse. Say yes to a pep talk coach Carter wished he could have given his team before the big game. I don’t want you to lie to yourself (you do enough of that already), but to give an honest session of praise to yourself. To recognize your incredible resilience, your determination, your kindness, your compassion. Fan your peacock feathers especially when no one is looking, because it is you who needs to awaken to your own awesomeness when nobody else is able to remind you. Choose you.
2. Look at your relationship with Clothes
Are you one of those people whose self-esteem can easily plummet with one trip to an H&M dressing room? Do you sometimes feel like your entire self-worth rides on your ability to squeeze into that size 8 dress? (who’s the person who decided on size 8 as the gatekeeper of beauty anyway? Fuck that). If so, I invite you break up with your old feelings attached to clothes. Can you envision a body love in which not being able to fit into a dress, does not suddenly nullify every good thing you’ve done in the world? Letting a dress size strip you of our awesomeness is like Wonder Woman walking into Macy’s after saving the world, and they only make American flag leotards that are a size 8, but she can’t fit all her curves in it. Then suddenly the justice league kicks her out of the team like “Sorry Wonder Woman, you’re a badass and all, but you can’t fit into the Macy’s size 8 leotards so you clearly aren’t good enough for the league”. How absurd is that? For you to let a size 8 dress, kick you out of all the greatness you’ve given the world? The struggle of finding your voice, the all nighters to get an education, the long hours at work, the children you raised, the parents you care for, the cancer you survive, the heartbreaks…Everything you are is so much more complex, so much grander, so much more amazing, than having your valued be reduced to your ability to fit into a certain size of clothing. You are Wonder, you are Super. Choose you.
3. Look at the media you consume
Most certainly, the media in 2014 has made great strides in diversifying images so that more people could see themselves on TV, but it wasn’t done without a long and tiring fight. So for 2015 I don’t even want you to fight the big media, I’m taking you to just one medium where you have the most control of what you get to see: Social media. Or more precisely, Instagram. On this site, you are in completely in control of what you get to see, save for the few and far in between sponsored post (I see you Old Navy!). Instagram is your chance to meticulously choose who gets to grace your feed, and I propose that you saturate your feed with people who inspire you, uplift you, transform you, excite you. My instagram for example, can be broken in 6 categories: Entrepreneurship/purpose, Yoga, body positivity, social justice, a positive Africa, and friends. I am ruthless with what I allow in my space because I refuse to allow anything on my feed that isn’t in alignment with my values. I once unfollowed a friend because he made an awful comment about women and sexual assault. Ain’t nobody got time for that. My feed is my sacred space. Yes it’s that serious. The rest of media already force feeds me harmful images I don’t always want to see. My Instagram is my carefully crafted safe haven of great inspiration and shameless selfies. That’s how I like it. So I invite you to do an instagram purge. Do you have an account in your feed that does nothing but make you feel bad about yourself? Unfollow. Then saturate your feed with accounts that inspire, uplift and transform you. Choose you.
4. Look at the people around you
I am an advocate of free speech, but I employ the same freedom to censor the people around me if what they say doesn’t come from place of compassion or tolerance. We already have enough of the world telling us that we are never enough. Ads, that tell us we need to be thinner, curvier, taller, blonder, richer, basically unicorns of human existence. You don’t need people around you to add on to the abuse you’re barely surviving. Be bold and be ruthless in telling people you don’t need to hear their comment about your weight, about how much you need to gain, need to lose, where to have muscles, where to be
softer. You don’t need to hear it. People will feel entitled to your beauty. Like you owe them your thinness. Like you owe them a better outfit. Like you owe them less intimidating muscles. Like you owe them a flatter stomach. You don’t owe anybody the need to subscribe to their aesthetics. Your body, your rules. In return though, I ask that you also extend this rule to the way you view other people. The people whose outfit you don’t like. The fat people. The people with disabilities. The transgender people. Let people exist unapologetically even if they don’t fit your mold of respectable aesthetics. I insist on this one because there are people who experience violence because of the way they look. Body image is survival for many people. Whenever you feel the need to make a comment about the way someone looks., remember they don’t owe you their beauty. Let them be. Let you be. Choose you.
5. How to look better in 2015?
Choose you. Give yourself permission be loved by you. Give yourself permission to no longer feel like your body is a prison you can’t wait to escape. Choose yourself to walk away from relationships were you are not valued. Choose yourself to accept love when it comes into your life. Choose you. Choose you, then make room for others to choose themselves.
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.