With summer quickly approaching, and as the layers of clothing shed off our bodies this June, I challenge you to like what you see rather than mentally cringing next to Malibu Barbie on the beach this year. See, it doesn’t really matter what you look like at all, if I’m concerned. No one is going to remember the stretch marks, winter bloat or cellulite if you focus on only living your best life and self every day. It’s true, the saying “the ones who don’t matter, mind. And the ones who do matter, don’t mind”. If you’re surrounding yourself with the most encouraging and soul enriching people who truly have their heads wrapped around the real valuable things in life, you’ll start forgetting to look in the mirror to check if your stomach looks boxy in that top.
I would say above all else, our health is most important. Staying active, engaged and proactively eating things to enhance the healthy, forward-looking lives we all should want to live, is paramount. If you are ashamed of your body because you know you eat unhealthy, and therefore feel unhealthy then it may be time to consult your habits and do a little spring cleaning. I’m not telling anyone to eat a certain diet because many people’s bodies process food differently than others and therefore, I am left out of that decision making process. Although, I can say since cutting out meat and dairy and 99% of animal bi-products from my food regimen in January, my body feels healthier than ever and all I do for exercise (essentially) is yoga. BUT, that is not the point of this post. After traveling Europe, I came to find a new confidence in my body and what it provides me with; and if possible, I’d like to share it with you. What I am about to explain is something I realized in the locker-esque shape and feel of an airplane bathroom looking at my naked face, flying somewhere over Hungary, after leaving Budapest.
My mind was a bare watercolor canvas, I was looking at myself while washing my hands, just blankly staring into the mirror. Maybe after reading that sentence you wouldn’t necessarily consider that a revelation but, it was for me. I for once, wasn’t picking out each flaw on my body and scowling into that sheet of mirrored glass at whatever I chose to hate, like it owed me money and I caught it in the shopping mall. I no longer seemed to pay incredible attention to every enlarged pore on my nose or the fact I had been wearing my black long sleeve shirt inside out the whole day traveling, I guess it didn’t really matter anymore. I saw the pimple on my chin and felt the bloat from the home-brewed Hungarian beer the night before. I peered into my own eyes about half an arms length away from me and just saw Taryn; she looked awesome, eclectic and comfy. I felt good about that determination. Awesome, eclectic and comfy are some strong descriptive features that will get my attention I’ll tell you that much. I had just had the most amazing time of my life traveling across Europe with my boyfriend, to some of truly the most iconic cities in the world. There were zero situations where I felt “too bloated” to eat another Belgian waffle, drink another Czech ale, or attack another huge plate of Frits in the Netherlands. I yanked open the small shuttered door every airplane has to conceal the water closet and made my way back down the aisle to my seat and probably didn’t think about it again, due to it’s moderately insignificant nature. I did take into account that really refreshing feeling of not experiencing the urge to aggravate my blemishes by swiping my fingers all across them, or try to find a new way while standing where I don’t look like a piece of ply wood with clothes on.
Because you see, it all doesn’t depend upon how you look, or what your mind tells you is true when others glare or speak negative words in your direction; it lies on what you choose to accept inside. If you accept other’s perceptions or others’ shapes and bodies as salient, that’s where those thoughts will most certainly stay. It is only when the most obvious or noticeable things in others become their charisma, their laugh, their energy and spirit is when you’ll begin to accept your own. I can’t tell you what any of the truly transcendent people I met were wearing when I first shook their hand or kissed their cheek. I shared evenings with people from 15 different countries all laughing and clanking our glasses together like a high school reunion. What is a vital piece of knowledge though, is what you think, you will most certainly attract, and regardless if I gained 10 or 35 pounds traveling Europe for 9 months, I had one hell of a time and cherished each moment dearly. My weight never came up in conversation.
I didn’t think twice in Paris; when brightly colored macaroons, a symphony of crackling, fresh breads and various assortments of wine occupied every day. In Spain, all the Jamon Serrano I could get my hands on ended up in my mouth and down my throat. You couldn’t have caught my attention in Milan staring through the glass of a business, drool beginning to form at the crest of my bottom lip while a piping hot pizza exited the original authentic stone pizza oven. And so on. So it begs the question, why are American’s SO concerned with how our bodies look, women in particular? It’s blasphemous!
In every society over history we have had distinct standards on what is beautiful and what is not. It’s true that people who are “attractive” (according to that society’s interpretation) are more successful, met with a more positive greeting, and will mostly be considered good, solely based off of their appearance. It is unfortunate our ideologies about body image in America especially, have shifted to such a degree that gaining 5 pounds after the holiday’s can feel like a death sentence. Worrying, headaches, belly aches, wishing the minuscule bit’s of extra skin, fat or stretch marks away before the weather regains it’s warmth. It’s sad, because none of those things just listed have anything to do with who we are as people, which inevitably is what should count the most.
They’re always shoving it in our faces. “They” meaning the media, and “it” being perfect looking bodies. While living in Europe for 9 months, I was away from everything in America both physically and mentally. I didn’t watch the TV ads, I didn’t see any tabloids by the check out counter at the market, I didn’t get the Victoria’s Secret discount codes in the mail, no one was screaming on talk show’s about Kim Kardashian’s ass or Jennifer Lopez’s killer 6-pack. Not to say women and others in the countries I visited didn’t struggle with their body image, but it is clearly much more apparent in the good old U.S. of A. Which is ridiculous, because most of it is either fake, enhanced, or created with copious amounts of money. If you have a baby and want to look like Kylie Jenner back in your same jeans a month after you give birth, you’re joking yourself and should commend your body for whatever shape it’s in because it just created a HUMAN! Women in Europe and beyond are loving their post-partum bodies because for the record, they are powerful vessels that pump children out in 9 months, that’s magic. This needs to be a more widespread understanding where many in America have a child, throw it directly into day-care and start doing crunches behind their desk, back at work in no time. It is hard, in America to be overtly successful as a woman who is ‘unattractive’, so the clock is ticking the moment she has a baby to get back on track to living in a man’s world at the workplace. Having a baby is stressful enough, let’s all cut ourselves some slack and enjoy each bit of bad and good that comes with this new life you created, stop beating yourself up.
BUT this post is not about new mom’s and how they should rock whatever body they got, it’s about everyone rocking whatever body they got as long as they are healthy. Live naturally, because medications are artificial poison, stay off them. Move, because you weren’t given leg’s to sit and sulk. Nourish, because the Earth provides us with so many delicious and divine creations to improve our health. Hydrate, because your body loves water, and you should love it too. Most importantly, just love. Love yourself enough to make the decision that the health of your body and mind should come far before anyone else’s interpretations on how you should live your life.
In the United States alone, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a eating disorder at some point in their lives. How awful! If eating disorders are the mental illness with highest mortality rate, shouldn’t we progressively try to change the mentality around the artificial need to fit someone into jean’s meant for someone considerably and naturally smaller than them? Why are we continuing to promote skinny and unattainable body types? Why is Kim Kardashian paid millions of dollars to influence her millions followers to buy appetite suppressant lollipops? And her sister Khloe, with all the hype surrounding those body deforming waist trainers? STOP!!! Appetite is a gift, just like all feelings, we are blessed to feel hungry and have working hands and decent food to fulfill our bellies. Waist trainers have STEAL thin bars inside, forming and synching your waist, simultaneously obstructing the natural placement of some of your organs and even your ribcage. But, eating disorders and tainted views about body image aren’t confined to only women. Men suffer with these bogus attitudes as well, that engulf their minds with the desire for manliness; which seems to always correlate to the 6-Pack and boisterous biceps. NO one should feel compelled to eat or exercise in any certain way that is unnatural and unhealthy to obtain a certain idolized body image. Those people in the tabloids and advertisements, edited or not, are them, and you are you. It is indisputably impossible to look like Gigi Hadid, because you, are not, Gigi Hadid. Exercise, fresh air, nutritious foods and a love for your natural body are what will heal you from your demons associated with seeing yourself in a bikini.
I’ve had my fair share of bouts with eating disorders and other body anxieties, it’s a perilous process that we must go through to heal the wounds we inflicted upon ourselves. I often think there isn’t anything a person can say to me that would surmount the horror I’ve repeated to myself, so many times in that wretched mirror. For much time, I believed that terribly lost reflection; she was so angry, with so many things where control was just not at her reach. Many of our mothers, and maybe many more in our families have suffered the same illness, as many eating disorders reign genetic, lets convince our daughters they are perfect creations from the universe, men as well. Self love is letting go, forgiving your skin. Forgiving the internal and external monsters who placed your mind in such a hellish place, that you had said terribly fowl things to such a miraculous being, such as yourself. We are a compact, breathing being filled with energies scientists still haven’t figured out in full, essentially just a bunch of organic matter bound together for some reason; where we live on sometimes as long as 100 years or more, how incredible. Isn’t that something to be proud of? Worship it, we are all truly magic.