Definition of Love

Love is a word that can be extremely sacred, or can be thrown in a hamper like gym socks. The word,LOVE, is a game changer. Love, to some people, can be: God, an exotic trip; diamonds; family and/or friends. Love can be an addictive habit. Love can be a career. Love can be selflessness. Love can be selfish. It can feed the masses. Love can lie. Love can be truth. To me, love is peace of mind.  It is the peace of mind that I can be patient with myself, as well as others.  To Love is to smile. To Love is to appreciate. Love is to guide, and to listen. Love is God. Love is bravery.

 

So, if it is all of these things, how come many of us struggle with loving ourselves? I do not mean being egotistical and self-righteous.  I mean truly being at peace with oneself.

 

I have no patience with myself. I, at times, feel a HUGE void between how others perceive me, and how I perceive myself.  I wish I could, for one moment, see how beautiful I am through my fiancés eyes, or my mom’s.  I wish that I could see the strength that so many people see in me. With all that being said, I realized that this week I am not the only one that feels this way.

 

I grew up on every diet under the book. I have been on: Jenny Craig; Weight Watchers; Nutri System; Fresh Diet. I have been on diets people have probably never heard of. I did that shady Master Cleanse Beyonce diet with the Lemonade and Paprika or whatever.  I did a Bible Diet, that entailed praying when feeling hungry. I have done a beet diet- where you eat beets for three days out of the week. The diet I lost the most weight on was LA Weight Loss. I lost 40 pounds and quickly gained 100 pounds back upon the loss of my father.

 

All of these “quick fixes” have occurred between the ages of 10-24. The common theme with all of the diets- I always felt stressed out.  Most young women and men begin dieting at this age, because of a myriad of reasons. They want to fit in. Their “idols” are fit. They struggle with self esteem. I was always a “pretty” girl to my family, but I did hear A LOT: “She will be so much more beautiful, if she lost a couple pounds.” How many people have heard a phrase like this before?

 

Now I am not defaming any of these diets, because I have seen them work for close colleagues, friends and family. For me dieting stresses me out. Point, Blank, Period. Between counting, weighing, grilling, scheduling and whatever other (ing) you can add- I cannot diet anymore.  I can only be patient with myself and learn to love myself. Love, I am learning, is healthy. It is taking care of you. It is not a quick fix. Love is the journey together. Like a marriage, Love’s journey WILL NOT happen overnight and it can be terrifying. To truly be 100 percent okay with the way I look is scary to me. 

 

I interviewed an incredible human being this week. She is currently training for a triathlon in the next couple of months. She is the mother of three beautiful children and probably one of the most beautiful women I have encountered. She is disciplined, focused and extremely talented.  But like many of us, her perception of self is altered. She sees herself as being “big.” With this being said, as a culture, how can we stop seeing ourselves through rose-colored lenses? How can we begin to appreciate OUR beauty for what it is?

 

There are times I can’t even look at myself undressed, because I begin to laugh at all of my imperfections. I laugh, because I am embarrassed with how big my belly is and how many “chichos” I have on my back. Chichos, by the way, is a term to describe back rolls. Pronounced “CHEECH-O.” I constantly look at my shady halfway double chin and try to pull it back to see how I would like with a “skinny” face.

 

I challenge you, as well as myself, all this week to undress in the mirror. Terrifying, I know. But, “fear should be written in pencil”- to quote my pastor. Let the fear, and self hate go. Be healthy. Scars are moisturized by love and can only heal that way. Undress not only the outer layer of clothing, but discover how gorgeous YOU are. It is time to re-invent the word LOVE. Love yourself fully and unequivocally.  Make a list of all of your “imperfections” and force yourself to find them positively perfect.  God did not make you by accident; you are a creation that was crafted with precision and care. Remember that- I know I will.

 

Danielle

actor.playwright.director

Twitter: @thebodyimage

Facebook: The BODY IMAGE Project

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14 Comments

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  1. I can honestly say that one of the BEST feelings in the world is when you realize that you truly do not care or worry about what you’re eating. I don’t mean that you don’t care in a “well I’m overweight not skinny, so I’ll just eat because I can,” I mean healthy eating in the sense of eating mindfully: eat what you want, when you want it, until you’re mentally and physically satisfied, with no guilt or remorse. This is INCREDIBLY hard as we’re told so many message about what we “should” or “should not” eat. But once you attain the point of being comfortable that your body and mind will tell you when you’re mentally, physically, and emotionally satisfied, it is nothing short of amazing. You can have that cupcake (or two) at your office party and enjoy it, knowing your body will tell you when it’s had enough, while the other people there engage in negative fat talk and body shaming; or you can have that salad because you truly want to taste and feel the crunchy lettuce, crisp veggies, etc., rather than eating it because “you have to” or “it’s the healthy option.”

    Through years of struggle, I’ve attained this a few times. And it is way better than ANY diet (which we all know don’t truly work anyway).

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  2. I’m really loving the blog! It’s incredibly touching work, Danielle. As a woman who has been aware of her height and weight since the age of 4, it’s comforting to know that so many others have experienced the same obsession/discouragement/disgust/misconception with their body image. Strength in numbers 🙂

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  3. bodyimageprojectblog May 31, 2013 — 4:37 am

    Thank you all so much for such amazing responses to this entry. You all were bravely honest and I created this blog for discussions like these to take place. Please share with others this blog if you like what you read : )

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  4. Danielle- this piece, like it’s writer, is so beautiful and inspiring! Such a common thread in the human race, this struggle is, and the honesty, insight, and humor in your writing is so refreshing and inspiring! Cant wait to read more!

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  5. Danielle, I am so grateful that you wrote this. I can relate to this so much, as I’m sure so many people can–which is why I’m so very thankful that you’ve written this, but still saddened by the masses of individuals (myself included) who struggle to accept themselves everyday.

    A bit of my story–I understood at a very young age that my worth was determined by my image. I had an intelligent, beautiful mother, who relentlessly told me that I “would be so much happier if I were thin” from the time I was ten. And I LOVED food. Always will, even though I tried to convince myself otherwise. Because of growing up with these perceptions, I engaged in some pretty destructive behavior for a very long time, ultimately leading me to drop out of college due to medical reasons when I was 19 to go through a series of treatments in order to regain some semblance of mental and physical health. I didn’t go back to school until I was 26. To be honest, this was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.

    Even with all of the things I’ve gained, I still tell myself a series of negative things on a daily basis–much the opposite of what my boyfriend, friends, and family reassure me of–and of course I find it SO embarrassing that I feel that I need that reassurance. I still find myself believing that I can’t play certain roles, simply because I’m not “skinny enough.” After I read your post last night, though, I thought I might look at myself through objective eyes

    Here’s what I’m going to do: I’m no longer going to hide what I’ve been through. It was really painful, sure, but I’ve gotten through and am continuing to get through it. And SO many people are going through this same cycle. I’m going to acknowledge my negative feelings, but I am committing myself to send myself positive messages.. Our worth is not determined by our images, but by our happiness, commitment to health, and our productivity. We are all ingenues, leading ladies and men, no matter our sizes or ages.

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  6. Kate Peterman May 29, 2013 — 6:07 pm

    Fear is the root of all misfortune! Have you ever seen (or done this yourself) someone begin to cross the street, get halfway across when they see a car coming, and run back to the side they started on? I’ve done it and I’ve seen it a bunch. It’s human instinct, when startled or unsure, to run to what we know because we know how to handle it– even if we don’t like it. Humans can take a lot, think of how many times you’ve been willingly unhappy because you were too scared to fail at trying to be happy! I’ve heard people say they don’t think Beyonce is all that attractive. I don’t agree with those people, I think she’s flawless. So, if I refuse to love myself until I look as good as Beyonce, there would still be people who would find flaws. But, I’m used to thinking “I’ll do that once I’m at my goal weight, I’ll treat myself better when I look better.” I still struggle with this and so does SO MANY PEOPLE! If nothing changes, nothing changes. I know I’ve been programmed to not talk about these issues but I think the more we address something, the more we understand it. When we understand something, it doesn’t seem so scary (also, feeling the support of others who deal with the same issues helps us to be brave, because support is love and like you said, love is bravery). Without fear holding us back, maybe we can start to love who we are now, not who we think we should be. The grass is always greener on the other side, damn it! Also, when it really comes down to it, I just REALLY love cupcakes and french fries and I don’t want the admiration or approval of people who say I shouldn’t have them. Those people can go on and gawk at other people who don’t like butter and sugar and I’ll just keep my head right for people who want to share a milkshake with me. Follow your bliss and let others follow theirs, I say! I think this is so great that you’re doing this Danielle!!!

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  7. Very provocative and thorough blogging Danielle! I personally hate diets with extreme prejudice! I grew up as a hefty child myself, and I ardently believe in just eating balanced meals and exercising to which the beauty comes naturally. To me, beauty is the maintenance health.

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  8. I love it girl!!’ Your fabulous!!!!!

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  9. Very inspiring piece of writing. I’ve learned the first step in loving oneself is to destruct the myth that one has built up around themselves and simply love a blank canvass.

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  10. Edward Mawere May 28, 2013 — 8:08 pm

    Danielle that blog post damn near brought me to tears
    you are so right, we do need to start loving ourselves and understand that these diets and quick fixes are not the way, we need a life style change one that has healthy habits. Let weight loss be a bi product to a healthy lifestye not the goal. wow i really needed that this morning
    mwah!

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  11. Such a wonderful and uplifting post. Thank you!

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  12. yvette ganier May 28, 2013 — 4:23 pm

    Thank you for being you!

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  13. I am SO working on this right now. Last night I slept naked for the very reason of just accepting myself, and how my body is uncloaked in clothing. Great post!

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