Beach time is quickly approaching and many women are buying diet pills, body wraps, and any other product promising to give us the perfect body. Although Americans spend more than $60 billion annually trying to lose weight, 71% of American adults are obese or overweight. A 2007 report by British researchers found that women in the UK spend about 31 years of there life on a diet. This is not a continuous healthy eating plan, but rather a yo-yo diet with most women giving up in less than six weeks. The reason why our “health obsessions” lead us to even greater levels of poor health is because they are based on loathing our bodies. The secret to getting your perfect body immediately and permanently is learning to love the body you have.
Body Loathing vs. Body Loving
Body loathing includes words and actions that insult, harm, and degrade your body. It involves criticizing your body or parts of your body, damaging your body by depriving it of sufficient healthy and nourishing food, and publically insulting your body. In fact, much of our female-female conversation involves the body loathing ritual of trading criticisms about our bodies. All of these body loathing activities harm our physical and emotional well-being and make it difficult for our bodies to be healthy and functional.
While you might consider criticizing your body as motivation to improve, it actually has the opposite effect. Science teaches us that human behavior is improved by a positive encouraging environment, not a negative one. In a 2005 study published in the American Psychologist, researchers documented the critical element in promoting human flourishing. Flourishing is living at the optimal level of functioning and performance. It is associated with perceptions of goodness, creativity, growth, and resilience. It is estimated that less than 20% of Americans are flourishing and this lack of flourishing is linked to a host of physical, emotional, and economic problems.
So what best predicts whether an individual or an organization will flourish? The ratio of positive to negative thoughts. Those with a ratio of at least 2.9, approximately three positive thoughts for every one negative thought, were much more likely to experience flourishing: peak human performance.
As an educator, I know the great importance that my attitude and approach can make in student performance. If my students perceive me as caring about them and their well-being, they are able to take in my instruction and feedback and use it to improve their knowledge and skill. However, if they perceive me as a harsh task master who cares more about my instruction than them, they will resist learning anything from me. This principle underlies all human behavior and performance.
Recall the individuals in your life who have been great teachers and/or coaches. Who were the people that were able to inspire you to work your hardest and get the most improvement in your performance? What did they think of you? How did they treat you? Most likely these were individuals who had high standards for you and communicated a high regard for you. They valued and respected you and your ability. They knew you were talented and worked diligently to cultivate that talent. And in this context you flourished.
Now compare that experience to the external and internal messages you take in daily about your body. Do these messages affirm the inherent value and beauty of your body? Do they celebrate your body’s function and performance? Do they nurture and cultivate your body in a loving, supportive environment? If you’re like most of us, the answer is no. It’s no wonder that our bodies respond like rebellious children, refusing our explicit instructions to be well and perform.
Body Loathing Cannot Produce the Perfect Female Body
When you separate yourself from your body, evaluating it as a set of components, you are objectifying yourself. You are treating your body as an “object” separate from you- the beautiful soul that inhabits your body. It is a mistake to believe that you can demean your body and love yourself. It does not work because there is a permanent connection between our bodies and our souls.
Belittling our bodies diminishes how we feel about ourselves. When we demean our bodies and say explicitly or implicitly that our bodies are not good enough, we are saying to ourselves that we are not good enough. We are not good enough to be loved and respected by others or ourselves. That’s why we believe it’s appropriate to demean and brutalize our bodies with forced deprivation, injurious workouts, or feeding it unhealthy food.
Both the so called “healthy” behaviors and the unhealthy ones come from a place of body loathing and our bodies respond with resistance. Resistance may be in the form of a plateau where your body refuses to release any more weight in spite of your best efforts. Resistance may be in the form of returning to your pre-diet weight with a few extra pounds for support against the task master of self-deprivation. Resistance may be in form of weakened performance and diseases as your body withdraws from the hostile climate you’ve created.
All of these forms of resistance are natural and appropriate responses to assaults on the dignity and worth of the self. Resistance is the natural response to oppression, even when we are the ones creating the oppressive environment.
The way to end this resistance and reconnect with our bodies is to create a body loving environment. A body loving environment will remind us that our bodies are not objects to be controlled, but rather visible extensions of our unique selves. Body loving environments affirm our inherent value and dignity. They operate from the assumption that we are already “good enough” and create an environment to remind us of this truth and encourage us to do our best.
A Better Definition of the Perfect Female Body
Perfect comes from the Latin word perfierce, per- meaning “completely” and farcere meaning “do”. Thus saying something is perfect suggests that it is whole, complete, and lacking nothing. You have successfully developed into a full grown woman with all of the curves, lines, rights, and privileges that status entails. You are whole and complete. You are perfect!
Claim your perfect female body today! All it takes is recognition that you already have it.
You are already good enough.
You are already beautiful.
You already perfect.
You do not need to get her eyes, butt, breast, skin in order to be beautiful. Nor do you need to lose, gain, shrink, or enlarge any part of your body to be deserving.This moment, at this size, is your perfect female body. Click & Tweet! As you come to understand and accept this truth, you will be able to love and nurture your body (and yourself) in a way that brings out your personal best. You will care for it as you do a newborn infant. Providing it with all the nourishing foods and experiences it needs to grow and flourish. Celebrating its changes and development. Affirming its inherent value and worth.
Loving your body means feeding it nourishing foods out of your care for its well-being. It means being gentle will your body, giving it the rest it needs and deserves. Loving your body involves moving your body, celebrating it’s growing strength and improved functionality. Loving your body also includes protecting it from harmful toxins and emotions that damage its functioning. Finally, loving your body includes speaking loving words of praise, gratitude, and affirmation regularly about your body. As you love your body, it will love you back. Click & Tweet!
As you do these actions, you and your body will develop a beautiful relationship built on love, respect, and cooperation. In this body loving climate, your body will transform to its optimal performance. You and your body will flourish.
Just as a loving teacher brings out the best in her students, your loving care will bring out your personal physical best. You will look and feel great! Most importantly, these changes will be permanent and built on healthy, respectful actions.
Body Loving Affirmations for the Perfect Female Body
A group of over 1,800 women shared their body loving affirmations on a hypnobirthing blog post. I’ve posted a few of my favorites here to get you started on celebrating and cultivating your perfect female body. I suggest that you practice these affirmations standing in a full view mirror so that you can experience the full impact of learning to “see” yourself differently and learning to love what you see.
- My mind is clear and open. My face radiates beautiful kindness. My head is held high and proud. My eyes reflect the beauty of the world around me. My shoulders are strong and stable. My arms are open to giving and receiving love. My hands are capable and skilled. My heart is courageous and loving. The roundness of my belly connects me to our Mother Earth. My hips are free and fearless. My legs support and carry me through my life. My feet are always moving me forward towards my goals.
- I see myself with loving eyes, and I love everything I see.
- I am grateful for this body! It allows me to experience the world around me and gives me sensation beyond measure.
- My body is love. My body accepts love. My body gives love.
- My large feet keep me planted firmly on the ground. My thick thighs provide plenty of lap space to sit on. My soft arms create a cushiony pillow for small heads.
- My body cannot be owned. It is not my possession, rather, my body IS myself. I do not look upon it as “other.” As I include my body into my sense of self, empathy for its story is the only thing left to feel, and I accept my wholeness.
- My body is a miracle.
- I am always the perfect age.
- My body and spirit are a perfect team and are always working together.
Congratulations on claiming your perfect body! As you celebrate your body, you give other women the permission to do so as well. So please share your insights and your commitment to creating the perfect female body.