People who love you tell you not to let it bother you. But it does.
It can’t not. We’re wired to judge ourselves based on how other people respond to us. And when they criticize our bodies, we take it to heart. We are all judged for how our bodies fail to align to cultural norms of what’s attractive and sexy.
But you are expected to set that norm.
And when you don’t, or when your creative talent is dismissed because you are five pounds too heavy or too light, or when you struggle just as much as anyone else with post-baby belly or middle-age spread… it’s hard not to let that judgment turn into self-rejection.
There’s no doubt that the fantasy of eternal youth and virility is alive and well. And normal body changes and aging become reasons for all kinds of rejection. People laugh at you. The public loves to gossip about your appearance. And most of them are far from kind.
You need to realize (and I so hope you already do, love) that you will never look good enough so that all people think you do. People will always judge you by their own narrow definition of attractiveness. Always. Trying to be skinny enough, tone enough, buff enough, wrinkle-free enough, to keep people from laughing at you simply is a waste of your energy.
Your brain knows this.
Your heart does not.
The things said about you get to you. And you know what? They should.
Words are powerful and they hurt. It’s dismissive of people to gloss over something that truly wounds the spirit by telling you not to let it bother you. Far better for them to ask you how does this make you feel and let you move that energy out of you, then remind you of your inner truths.
The reality is though that people are always going to talk about your appearance. You can’t stop people from making fun of you, judging you, or deciding that you do or do not fit their image of what’s attractive.
You can decide how much of your energy you are going to spend letting their opinions matter.
Being made fun of and getting the message that there’s something wrong with your body makes you reject yourself. It makes you feel unlovable. Undesirable. Oh yes, some of the most attractive men and women feel undesirable. Criticism makes you feel as if there’s something intrinsically wrong with you.
If you base your self-worth on other people’s acceptance of you, and they reject your body, it drives a deep wound into your spirit. Being rejected for not being sexy enough, or thin enough, or muscular enough, or anything-enough makes you feel humiliated and ashamed. It’s really hard to recover from that depth of injury.
But here’s the thing. When someone laughs at, judges, or rejects us, it only bothers us if deep down we believe them.
If we allow their opinion to define us. Unfortunately, most of us do. Especially when we’re young. I know from painful personal experience, how easy it is to swallow someone else’s opinion of your body as the truth about yourself.
At the same time, most of us are never satisfied with our appearance. Most of us zero in on the one or two things we can’t stand about our bodies and, really, often see very little else about ourselves in the mirror.
We have our own inner critic who is incredibly cruel.
The only hope of moving beyond what people say about our bodies and the beliefs they’ve buried us under, is to take a good look and see if we really believe those things ourselves.
If we do, do we keep believing them or do we try self-compassion and accept our bodies the way we do those of our dearest friends?
“God is in you, as you“
We are all so much more than the sum of our bodies, and yet, our bodies are us. Someone said that “God is in you, as you.” As YOU.
You can replace God with the Sacred, the point is that we are each creative expressions of the Divine, and we are meant to be uniquely us.
The other reality here is that, at the end of the day, no one really gives a shit what our bodies look like.
They either like you as a person or they don’t. Obviously, if you’re an actor you may not get the part because you don’t fit the physical image of the character — but that’s part of business.
At the end of the day, though, your body is your body. You can craft, mold, alter it, enhance it, lose weight, gain weight, get work done — and it still won’t be good enough to make everyone approve of you.
So, the bottom line is this: who gets to decide at what point your body is acceptable?
If you choose to alter it, who gets to decide when your alterations are finished?
When is being the shape, size, and weight that you are, good enough?
When is your current age the age you should look?
At what point, do you stop striving to look 20?
And, who gets to decide all of this?
What would it mean if you lived fully in the body you have now?
What would it feel like to just be you?
The amazing thing is that when people see others who reflect what they look like, they feel better about themselves. When audiences see “stars” who look like most people look, they feel connected to that star’s humanity.
And, more importantly, they see your talent instead of a “perfect” body.
The more real you can show up in your life, the more real your work becomes, the more impact you have.
Like everything else discussed here, reclaiming your Self is something only You can decide to do. No one else can do it for you.
Be brave enough to show up just as you are.
We need You, not a perfect body.