Love thy body. It’s a simple sentence but the reality of it is that so many of us see faults not the beauty when we look in the mirror.
And the worrying news is that those finding fault with with their bodies are getting younger.
The Australian recently reported that 75 per cent of “tweenagers” – aged 10 and 11 – have tried to lose weight in the past year.
“Half the tweens told researchers they were on a diet at the time of the federally funded survey of 4164 children, carried out by the Australian Institute of Family Studies last year,” the story said.
Since my early 20s, my body and I have shared a love/hate relationship.
I’ve rarely loved it. In fact, I’ve mostly hated my it. And sometimes, it hated me back (like when I had appendicitis, ate too much cheese or tripped over my own feet outside Tiffany & Co on Fifth Ave).
I’ve never really been one to strip down to my swimmers, let alone my bare essentials, without trying to strategically place an arm here or a hand there.
Like many young women, I’ve flicked through magazines and coveted the firm torso and toned thighs of models. Airbrushed models. Models who I’m guessing have never enjoyed the delicious-ness of a plate of BBQ Ribs from the Breakfast Creek Hotel.
But this morning I found myself standing in front of the bathroom mirror in my underwear and I started to really think about my body, what it’s capable of and what it says about me.
Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t some kind of epiphany.
On my morning cruise around the Internet I found myself on Carly Lloyd’s blog We Heart Life, which she created in 2010 as “an avenue to overcome the constant negativity that frames the way females live in today’s society”.
As part of her I heart my body 2012 campaign, Carly encourages women to take a photo of themselves that they love and share their body love stories and list three things they love about their bodies.
Which is how I came to be standing half nude in my bathroom.
Sure there are lumps and bumps I’d rather not see but most of them came from meals I shared with much-loved friends.
There is also a scar on my belly button from the appendectomy I had in London, another on the side of my butt from the removal of a nasty mole and a smattering of freckles across my cheeks which are much more prominent after being in the sunshine.
There’s a mark on my wrist from burning my wrist on the oven while cooking a roast for mum and a chicken pox mark near my nose.
But it is my ‘flaws’ which tell the story of my life.
In the past year I have finally realised that if I am kind to my body and nourish it with good food and regular exercise, it will be kind to me.
I’ve discovered that I love my body, flaws and all. Well, most of the time.
Sure I still have those days when my jeans are a little bit snug, my calves start to burn two minutes after I’ve hit the treadmill or I wake up with red eyes and the sneezes, like I did today.
But then I remember all the cool things my body can do.
I remember that my legs, while not the smallest pins in town, look okay in a mini skirt, are good at squats (according to my last trainer) and took me up the 284 steps to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
They’ve pedalled around Brugge, Munich and Central Park and run around hockey fields, softball diamonds and netball courts and once managed a 5 minute wall squat.
My arms are outstanding at hugging people, holding babies, helping move furniture and dangling from the trapeze!
My blue eyes can sparkle with joy, love and mischief.
And finally there’s my heart. Not only does it keep the rest of me going but it’s capable of so much love. And it’s resilient. Pretty damn resilient actually because it’s been bumped, bruised, dented and broken more times than I care to admit and yet it’s still there ticking away.
So, this body may not be perfect but it’s mine.