This week, I read a beautifully written post about writing courageously by Marisa from All Things New. She gave several really valuable tips about writing to discover yourself and being bold.

What does this have to do with body image?

It got me thinking about being courageous what it comes to body image and self-acceptance, and other ways in our lives.

One of the biggest parts of my negative body image was what others thought of me.

Maybe you’ve had the same experience, wondering if a stranger thinks you look too fat to be wearing what you’re wearing. Wondering if he thinks you’re pretty enough. Wondering if she thinks you’re pretty or skinny enough to be with him. Feeling uncomfortable in your skin because you think someone is looking at you, and knows you’re just too something.

Maybe someone said something to you. A remark that made you feel not good enough, and so you started thinking that you probably aren’t. Maybe it was a gradual stream of comments that sliced through your self-acceptance, that broke your body image.

Having a positive body image takes a certain amount of courage. Courage to say that you don’t care what others think. That you won’t bend and break because of someone else’s opinion of you. To say that no one dictates your body image, how you look or how you take care of yourself.

Courage to take the first step. Courage to accept yourself just as you are.

Marisa’s first tip has a lot to do with body image. She writes about writing courageously:

Write for yourself first.
Are you self-conscious? I am. About a lot of things (among them: my post-pregnancy body, my high-pitched voice, my penchant for really unnecessary hip-hop music). I used to think that a bit of self-consciousness was fairly harmless, but now I realize – it’s a dangerous, paralyzing form of narcissism. It causes us to look with disdain on our flawed humanity and chase after an idealized image of perfection.

Self-consciousness impedes our ability to write boldly. We fear that we’ll be judged, mocked, or questioned, that we won’t say the “right” thing or that no one will understand.

Spend some time writing in a journal, or anywhere where no one will read what you write. Practice finding what satisfies you as a writer so that when you do write for the world, their feedback will merely be a validation of what you already know.

You have to respect your own thoughts and expressions before anyone ever will.

I think I came out of the womb self-conscious, and so when I walked into my second grade class in Brooklyn, NY, after just being in this country for a few weeks, without knowing one word of English, without ever going to first grade, you could say that my self-conscious tendencies only grew.

From then on, I was self-conscious about a lot of things. At first it was vocab tests, because I had no idea what the teacher was saying. After I learned English, it was my looks. I felt pretty smart, but not pretty.

But of course Marisa’s tip isn’t about swimming in self-consciousness; to me, it translates into this: spend some time learning about yourself, accepting yourself, finding out what you like to do and learning to respect yourself – mind and body. Don’t wait for respect, acceptance and love from others; cultivate these things within yourself.

She also says to expect writing courageously to be hard, and it’s like that with building up one’s body image. But the toughest endeavors are usually the most worthwhile.

She says that we’re not unique when it comes to sharing similar experiences. She writes, “I can share openly because I know you can relate. You’ve been there – the fights and disappointments, the proud moments and overwhelming joys.” We’ve all been there. I can proudly say that I have a positive body image. But I can also say that yesterday, without hesitation, I said “I am ugly” before heading out. Not I feel yucky, I’m tired or I need a good workout. I said “I am ugly.” Trust me, we’ve all been there. You’re not alone.

And, then, she reminds us that we are unique in many, many ways. She writes:

If everyone’s souls were made of the exact same stuff, then humans would have run out of things to say ages ago.

Live authentically. Value sincerity. Believe that you have something wholly new to offer to the world.

Beauty is unique. If we were all a certain weight and shape, it would be boring. I know it, and I hope you know it.

So remember to be bold, and, again, not to bend or break because of negative comments – whether they come from a stranger, friend, family member or your own inner critic.

You are courageous, after all.

Guest post. By the way, please check out my guest post on a wonderful blog called Coming Out of the Trees. I wrote about healing from body shame.

Have a fantastic weekend!