The Yoga of (My) Body Hatred. ~ Angel Kalafatis

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Angel K

I’m about to say a whole bunch of things you’re not supposed to say out loud… and show you a picture of my stomach.

I watched The Sexy Lie: Caroline Heldman at [email protected]. In this TEDx talk, Dr. Caroline Heldman talks about what sexual objectification is and why it’s not empowering. She holds my attention as she talks about some pretty obvious ways that our culture objectifies (mainly) women—96 percent of sexually objectified images are women—and that it’s bad for us, but as interested as I am in her views, for the first few minutes I’m mostly thinking, duh.

I have no idea, however, that she is about to completely wreck my day (or my week, or maybe the rest of my forever).

When she highlights the absurdity in the assertion that it’s okay to use sexuality in advertising because “sex sells” by logically arguing that, if that is the case, ads targeted towards straight women would likely feature more scantily clad men, I laugh along with the audience. But she isn’t telling me something I didn’t know (also see HBO Should Show Dongs). 

In men’s magazines and advertising we see pictures of sexy women; in women’s magazines and advertising we see… pictures of sexy women?

Because, of course. She argues that we’re not being sold products as much as we are being sold ideas. She says men are being sold the idea that they have all the power and that their bodies are tools to get the job done. 

The process of my undoing starts at 5:43 when she says, “We [women] are being sold the idea that this [becoming the perfect sexual object] is where we get our value.”  This sexual objectification becomes self objectification.

She later posits, we raise little girls (you know, those things we were once) to “view their bodies as projects to be worked on.”

Let that sink in, because it’s true.

Now it’s time for me to come clean. 

Sometimes I am seriously judgmental.

I know within a few seconds of her starting that no matter where she goes with it, she’s going to wrap this talk up with a plea to start valuing women for their minds, their personalities, their skills and abilities—but anytime a woman says something like, “Beauty comes from the Inside,” or “Love your body,” or “Every Body is beautiful,” (and it’s almost always women saying those things) I immediately judge her and the validity of her statement based on a few key factors.

What I don’t do is actually consider that these are really true statements that can be acted upon. I just don’t. I usually write this kind of thing off as a platitude, or, at best, reblog it on my Facebook wall and forget it. I certainly don’t believe it and I certainly don’t internalize it.

Here’s what I actually do: If she’s prettier than I think I am or has a nicer body than I think I do, my first thought is, that’s easy for her to say. If  she’s ‘on par’ with where I feel I am on the looks-ladder, or less attractive than I think I am, I probably think, who’s she trying to convince?, or, she’s just making excuses, if she worked harder at the gym/ate better/ etc. she could look better, or, frankly, bullshit.

Right about the time I’m about to shut this video off and chalk it up to platitudinous drabble, Dr. Heldman talks about exactly that! (Because, apparently, she’s inside my mind.)

At 8:47 she talks about how we “compete with each other for our own self esteem,” as if there’s a limited and finite amount of self esteem in the world. That we walk into a party and immediately decide where we are in the “pretty girl pecking order” and it makes us feel worse about ourselves.

I do that. I totally do that! 

Yep. That’s right. I size other women up based on how I’ve already sized myself up and then I decide whether to feel better or worse about myself.  It’s usually the first thing I do when I enter any new space. If you’re female and we’ve met, I’ve sized you up. If you’ve ever been in line with me at Target or been eating in the same restaurant as I am, or even just crossed my line of sight, I’ve judged you, or, really, I’ve judged myself against you. If I decide you’re prettier than I am then I start hoping you’re mean or dumb or have some other obvious flaw so that I can feel better about myself.

It’s always hardest for me to meet someone who is good looking, kind and intelligent, so what do I do then? I have to make you my friend, of course; keep your friends close and all that. (Don’t want to be friends with me? Well of course that’s because you’re a hateful bitch, and not at all because I may or may not have been silently sending out Judgey McInsecurity vibes that make you uncomfortable in a way that you just can’t put your finger on.)

I’m always, all the time, obsessively judging myself.

I’m sitting alone in my house right now and I’ve readjusted the rolls on my stomach in my jeans about six dozen times in the last 45 minutes. Dr. Psychic, I mean, Heldman talks about that, too! (See what I mean by “wrecked” the rest of my forever?)

At 6:27 she starts to outline the Effects of Self- Objectification and at 6:40 she talks about “Habitual Body Monitoring.” Habitual Body Monitoring is that thing people do where they mentally assess and adjust—how does the lighting fall, how’s my hair, pull my jeans up, shift my weight, don’t look from that angle, etc.

photo credit Pixoto http://www.pixoto.com/images-photography/people/portraits-of-women/my-own-reflection-on-me-5042097996431360She says (and there’s science to back this up) that women do this once every 30 seconds. I totally believe it. I’m doing it right now.  She said we do it so often that it interferes with our cognitive functioning! 

We are basically wasting so much mental energy freaking out about our muffin tops that it’s actually making us dumber.

I try to mitigate how often I think I might end up Habitual Body Monitoring on the front-end of my day by always wearing the most flattering thing possible. To accomplish this I will change my clothes quite literally as many as ten or 12 times before either being satisfied or just giving up, putting on yoga pants and calling the day a wash.

I recently had a very young and beautiful friend visiting. She watched me go through this process and she commented something like, “Oh, you’re such a girl.” And I (derisively) said (snorted), “What, like you don’t do this?!” She (very nicely and matter-of-factly) said, “No, I just put on what I’m going to wear and be done with it.”

I replied (shot at her), “Must be nice to have such a great body that everything you put on looks good, not all of us are that lucky,” and, for just a few seconds, I hated her. I hated her because I was so full of envy towards her youth and her perfect c-sectionless body and well-rested eyes and glowing skin and I felt like she was rubbing it in. She wasn’t, of course. She’s one of my best friends and had no idea that she was hitting a nerve. She did nothing wrong.

I’ll tell you another truth, I almost never judge in favor of myself. Just like with my friend. I sized her up, sized us both up, and I came up way short. It’s an unwinnable contest, of course, because even when I’m the only person competing, I still manage to lose.

I’m like my own personal Simon Cowell.

And it doesn’t just affect my friendships. It’s totally destroying my sex life. More often than not, I waste what few moments my husband and I have to ourselves (we’re parents, remember) drenched in stress because I can’t get out of my head and into my body. I’m worried about my stomach or my cellulite, my hair, or the way my eye crosses a little when I take my glasses off.

Dr. Heldman talks about that too! (Spooky!) She calls it “Spectatoring.”  She says one of the bad effects of self objectification is diminished sexual satisfaction, because instead of staying fully present in their bodies, in the moment, women become obsessed with “getting it right,” and it’s as though we are watching ourselves from the outside criticizing every imperfection. And it’s keeping us from having satisfying (let alone radically intimate and rewarding) sex lives.

The constant struggle to lose weight makes it worse, too. When I physically push myself—really, really hard—make it to the gym two hours a day and five to seven days a week, count literally every calorie, I tend to be able to lose about 10-15 pounds. I’m not happier, of course, because every waking moment is spent calculating and scrutinizing and weighing.

When I do get down that 10 or 15 pounds, I may like the way I look better but the stress to maintain it exhausts me. Then my life happens to me and I “fall off the gym wagon” and I end up right back at the weight I’m at now. The number that’s on my scale now is (give or take five pounds) the number I’ve been at for almost all of my adult life (not including the tail end of my pregnancies), so why can’t I just be okay with it?

And there it is: the heart of the whole thing.

Most of my energy is spent consumed with this hate. I hate my body. I do. And I hate myself for hating myself. So I spend all my time trying to fix myself or fix my self image or get my mind off it entirely (did someone say cookies??) and I’m missing out on my life. I feel totally stuck in this hopeless hate-storm that I just can’t force my way out of.  

I started writing this piece in the morning. I watched the video and I was flooded with emotion and just had to get it out. As is the way with most moms, though, I had to put it down and come back to it several times. In hindsight, I’m glad. Every time I’ve walked away and returned to this piece something powerful happened in the space in between.

The first time I left for a doctor’s appointment I didn’t really have. I had somehow mixed up the date. In that time, though, I was able to calm down.

My first reaction was an almost angry one. I know that I judge others because I’m so full of judgment for myself. Coming at this from a place of judgment and hate was causing a desperate, sad, emotional reaction in me and I was simultaneously involved in actively plotting how I could rearrange my schedule and our pantry to drop a few more pounds and hating myself for not being able to just “let it go.” Walking away for a bit, taking some deep breaths, allowed me to replay it over in my mind and I started to drop some of the emotional charge and see all of this for what it really was.

The second time I had to put this down was to take my son to an appointment. As I waited in the lobby I was reading the only book I had with me, “40 Days to your Personal Revolution” by Baron Baptiste. The piece of the book I just happened to land on hit the heart of my issue like a laser.

I’m reading through the laws of transformation and as I finished Law 6: Drop What You Know, I turned to Law 7: Relax with What Is—and here, in this space, Baron says, “At any given moment, the compassionate, frictionless flow of the universe wants to help us, if we will only allow it.”

Some of the most powerful yoga we ever practice happens off our mats. It’s in our real, daily life where we are faced with issues and chaos and what we build into ourselves during our asana practice comes out.

This is the yoga of my body hatred:

Feelings are just that…Feelings.

Just because you feel something, doesn’t make it true, and it doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. Yoga teaches us to create space. One of the most powerful things that happens in that space is that you see the distance between situations and your response to them. You become a thoughtful responder instead of an emotional reactor. I might feel like my body is awful and worthless, or that the worth of my body lies in its shape and size, but feeling that way doesn’t make it true.

Drop what You Know.

Dr. Heldman says we are so inundated with sexual objectification that acknowledging it would be like someone living his whole life in a red room and then being asked to describe the color red.

I have been raised in a world where this skewed image of my body and its worth is totally normal. Now I look at my daughter and I’m terrified at the example that’s being set for her. I can continue to build stories around bad information, or I can drop what I used to “know” and embrace truth.

Baptiste says, “When you stop thinking, you can come out of your head and become fully present in your body. It means noticing your doubts and letting them go, endlessly releasing the thoughts and internal stories that reinforce your mental status quo. By letting go of your story line, you open the lines of communication between you and your higher power.”

Stay fully present.

Get out of your head, out of the stories you’ve wrapped yourself up in and stay present. In the physical practice of yoga it’s important to stay present in your breath and your body so that you keep alignment and stay safe. You also end up being able to more fully express each pose when you’re not forcing it. It’s the same when it comes to loving your body. If you’re spending all your time worrying and adjusting and Habitually Monitoring your Body you will miss out on the experience of just living.

Honor your body.

Yoga teaches us to communicate with our bodies and honor what they’re saying to us. Your head may tell yourself you’re not strong enough, but your body knows the truth—you are stronger than you give yourself credit for. Your head may tell you to push and push and push but if your body is telling you to back off, listen to it or you’ll hurt yourself.

Your body is not an object built to sell a product, or a thing that only has value when it can provide pleasure to someone else. Your body is a beautiful, magical tool that can take you to amazing places and enable you to do amazing things. (The doctor talks about all that, too.)

isabel abbott the good body hand

When I sat still yesterday, in the space between writing sessions, I was able to check in with my own body and communicate. I feel like my body has no worth, but what’s the truth? 

Body, are you healthy? Do you feel strong? Are you well fed and well nourished? Do you get enough rest? Do you have energy to play with the kids and show up for my friends and engage with my husband? Arms, can you carry me through yoga practice? Can you pick up my kids when they fall down? Can you hold my husband when he’s had a hard day or when he wants to connect? Legs, can you stay strong in Trikonasana? Can you chase the boy around the back yard? Hips, can you stay in Padmasana while I meditate? Can you stay grounded while we have tea party picnics on the girl’s bedroom floor?

My kids don’t care if my arms are chiseled, they care if they’re available for snuggles. My husband couldn’t care less how flat my stomach is(n’t), he’s always been attracted to me and loved me no matter what shape my belly takes. My friends don’t love me for my  jeans size, they love me because I’m there for them when they need me. My students don’t want a yoga teacher with a thigh gap, they want a teacher who will show up for them in a big way and stay present.

Fake it ‘til you make it.

I may not love my body right now, and I may often feel that I am worthless because I feel that my body is worthless. But I know that my body is worthy of my love. And I know I am worthy of love. So instead of waiting to be happy on some future “what if” (like, ‘I’ll finally be happy if I could just loose xx pounds or fit into size x), I can practice being happy right now. I can speak positivity into my mind and heart. I can act like a beautiful, lovely person of value, even if I don’t always feel it.

Those things are what are true; my loathing is just a story.

It’s called yoga practice, not “yoga perfect.” Relax with what is.

There’s no such thing as a perfect asana. There’s safe. There’s unsafe. There’s drawing in to create your fullest expression out. There’s no such thing as perfect. You get on your mat and you practice. You constantly, consistently, endlessly, day after day, practice.

Baron says, “Staying in our body and not in our head is a constant practice.” That means it doesn’t end when you get off the mat. Your half pigeon doesn’t get to be perfect. Your parenting doesn’t get to be perfect. Your body doesn’t get to be perfect. My body doesn’t get to be perfect. Why? Because, life just isn’t perfect.

That’s great news!!! It means you do the best you can every day (which changes every day) and then relax with what is. It also means that tomorrow or the next day if I catch myself in that cycle of hate and hopelessness, I can acknowledge it, honor that those feelings exist, and then let them go because I know they aren’t the truth. I can check in with myself every day in yoga and meditation and drop those things that are toxic or are no longer serving me and then I can choose to live to my fullest expression every single day. 

So can you.

Be the change you wish to see.

If I want to change the disgusting normalcy of sexual objectification, I start with me. How can I expect others to treat me like I’m worth more than my bra size, if I don’t? When I drop my self-judgment, I drop my judgment towards others. When I drop the Habitual Body Monitoring, I create space for my brain to work as a powerful tool. Loving myself and treating myself well gives me all the tools I need to love the people around me.

Dropping hate makes space for Love. Love shows my daughter and my son that they are worthy, it holds space for my students, it honors my husband, it provides warmth to my friends and family, its energy radiates outwards from me and touches the spirits of everyone I meet.

(As I wrapped up this post, this showed up in my news feed.)

 

Relephant Reads:

A Simple—But Not Easy—Antidote to Negative Body Image.

Protecting My Daughter’s Body Image.

Beauty.

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Photo: Courtesy of Author, Pixoto, Isabel Abbott

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anonymous Apr 11, 2016 4:57pm

Thank you for writing this. It’s perfect timing. I needed this today. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you

anonymous Mar 27, 2016 7:19am

What a wonderful and thought provoking piece, thank you so much for sharing x

anonymous Oct 15, 2015 6:06pm

This is the best article I have read in a long time. Absolutely fantastic. Thank you.

anonymous Jun 8, 2015 11:32am

This article made me cry on multiple occasions. Thank you so much for posting this. It took a lot of bravery I'm sure, but I want you to know you've given me light on a very dark day. Thank you.

anonymous Apr 15, 2015 5:38pm

What a lovely, well written, refreshing piece. Thank you for sharing this, and for shedding some light on what so many of us go through in our own heads.

anonymous Apr 15, 2015 2:49pm

well hell…..that just changed my whole thought process~ Excellent, thought-provoking piece!

anonymous Jan 9, 2015 2:21pm

Thank you. This really resonated and being that way is exhausting.

anonymous Dec 16, 2014 2:44pm

Brilliant piece! Wish more EJ work was of this quality!

anonymous Jul 6, 2014 7:25pm

This article and comments about self-obsession is very strong proof that all of you live in a first-world country. It's almost parody to me. Sorry.

anonymous Jul 5, 2014 7:09pm

Thank you so much, this article is wonderful, (talk about spooky psychic) I have been going through the whole, judging everyone, and everything, because I am ALWAYS judging myself on everything ALL OF THE TIME LATELY! Thank You!

    anonymous Jul 12, 2014 5:47pm

    I'd like to say it's surprising to see how many people can relate to this, but, honestly, it doesn't shock me at all. Our culture has done a bang up job teaching us to hate ourselves hasn't it? This kind of awareness is such a great start to affecting change though!! 🙂 Glad you liked it! <3 -Angel

anonymous Jul 5, 2014 1:04pm

I really needed that. Thank you.

anonymous Jul 4, 2014 7:52pm

Angel, this article is a HUGE gift to me. I have a severe case of body shame around my belly, which is scarred from surgery I had in connection with Hodgkin's Disease when I was 20. I am now 50. Thirty years of ridiculousness. Valuable energy wasted. I am photographing my belly and taping it to my wall. I love you. Thank you.

    anonymous Jul 12, 2014 5:49pm

    It makes me so happy to read this!!! Literally as I'm typing this response my 4 year old is taking pictures of me with her little camera. That kind of thing used to make me crazy but I'm slowly learning that I'm her mom and she loves me no matter how "camera ready" I am or how doughy my body is. It's liberating to love yourself, isn't it??? 🙂

anonymous Jul 4, 2014 2:00pm

I've heard from men, that they size each other up when they meet. Who's more successful, brawny, etc, and if there's an altercation who would win the fight.

anonymous Apr 24, 2014 2:54am

Amazing. It’s like you followed me around and wrote this on my behalf.. Except that I don’t have children yet. This prove’s to me once again that we’re not the only ones and we’re not alone.. I breathe easier now thank you for sharing your experience!

    anonymous Jul 12, 2014 5:51pm

    Thank you for sharing that with me. It's nice to know other people think these things, it helps drop the judgment and allows us to grow, doesn't it? 🙂

anonymous Apr 18, 2014 4:42pm

amazing, thank you for shedding light on the dullest parts of us. 100% vital information for us all to take responsibility for.

anonymous Apr 17, 2014 10:16pm

Thank you for such an honest, in depth post. I read with tears in my eyes.

anonymous Apr 17, 2014 3:13pm

Beautiful sharing, brave, helpful, loving and viewed at the perfect time of course… deep gratitude to you amazing woman xx

    anonymous Jul 12, 2014 5:54pm

    Ruth, thank you so much for that. As far as timing, the universe really does bring us what we need, doesn't it? 🙂

anonymous Apr 17, 2014 1:33pm

Thank you for this honest and relevant article.
I am you as well.

anonymous Apr 17, 2014 12:25pm

This is a fantastic article. I am endlessly searching for a way out of the prison you have described. I want to be free from the idea that so much, if not ALL of my value comes from how attractive I look, and how attractive I am relative to other women around me.

When you described walking into a social gathering and immediately "seeding" yourself among the other females, I laughed and cried at the same time. Because WHY do we do this? What a ridiculous waste of energy, of life! And really, even if I decide that I'm on top of the pile I don't feel happy. I don't like the way it feels to attach my self esteem to something so momentary. It feels dangerous and foolish. In fact, it's just another shade of the shame I feel when I place myself on the bottom of the pile. If only understanding and implementing were not so far apart.

I hope beyond hope that my beautiful, self- loving four year old daughter will remain free from the judgements, comparisons and doubts I've engaged in for most of my adult life.

Thank you for being so open and honest. It's nice to know I'm not the only one.

    anonymous Jul 12, 2014 5:56pm

    Thank you for sharing, Chelsie!! I hope you're finding freedom from this absurdity the same way I am. The more moms of the world decide to get off the "beauty" rollercoaster, the better this place will be for the four-year-old daughters (and sons). 🙂

    Good job, Mom. <3

anonymous Apr 17, 2014 9:29am

Wow, wow! I'd never thought of it that way–my body is at is and doesn't have to be a work in progress to be fixed!

anonymous Apr 17, 2014 6:38am

Wow, that article was really interesting, thank you for sharing so openly your experience. I must say, I really don't do that, I definitely did up until I was 20ish, in fact I had some sort of body dysmorphia about my skin. But fortunately for me (I guess) I had a big wake up call when I was 22 (a psychotic episode that woke me up). I am definitely insecure regarding my attractiveness to men, but I've havent sized other women up as being prettier/fatter/slimmer than me since that time- I am 40 now. I am really happy to be reminded of the benefits of having had that psychotic episode as it never occurred to me, until now that this sort of thing went on with women past young adulthood (I really dont mean that to sound rude in anyway.. just being truthful. It concerned me when I read this because it reminded me of how it can be to be a young woman and I have two daughters. So thank you for that reminder. What can we do to protect our daughters from this kind of comparison with one another? I think I am very lucky that my mother who is 73, is a great example. She keeps herself fit and makes the best of her body and looks, she is very happy with herself. to answer my own question, I think that may be the answer xxx THANK YOU for sharing your thoughts with us all. It is so helpful. Thank you. BTW that guy Russ who was so rude, is really ridiculous to meet self judgment with judgment. It just show his own shadow that he hasnt yet seen in himself. I reckon he must have had a hard time with women too. Poor man.

    anonymous Jul 12, 2014 5:58pm

    Tori, thank you for sharing your perspective. It's delightful to hear that you are free of these kinds of haunting thoughts. Shows that there's hope for the rest of us! 🙂

anonymous Apr 17, 2014 2:03am

Well written article. I can empathize with you. I also have an inner critic that is not only unhappy with my outward appearance but also with my actions, character, etc. Unfortunately my inner critic has gained strength from trumped up expectations promoted in the media. I see beauty all around me but have a hard time recognizing it within me. I am making a conscious effort to realize that my inner critic is unkind and extremely judgmental. It’s a start. May your journey lead you toward self love and acceptance.

    anonymous Jul 12, 2014 5:58pm

    May your journey lead you to the same place. 🙂 <3

anonymous Apr 17, 2014 12:36am

Really nice. Thank you.

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 10:27pm

So, so, so, so, so (did I mention SO?) good.

    anonymous Jul 12, 2014 5:59pm

    I think you did mention "so"… 🙂 Thanks, Vanessa.

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 9:03pm

Thanks for doing your best and being open about your process, it's fascinating and inspiring.

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 7:06pm

Thank you so much! This was epic…and the most well written article I've ever read on this topic.

    anonymous Jul 12, 2014 6:00pm

    Jen, I'm touched. Thank you so much!

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 6:53pm

"Men are being sold the idea that they have all the power and that their bodies are tools to get the job done. & women are being sold the idea that this [becoming the perfect sexual object] is where we get our value.”

The key world here is sold. Nothing prevents anyone from 'buying' into these ideas. Are we to ban advertising that promotes values that we disagree on? I know many religions (actually most of them) whose values are not compatible with most of societies- should we ban them too? I have a simple solution, but bare with me. We should objectify everyone- both men and women. What will that change? Think of it, if everyone was rich (monetarily), no one would be. It's the disparity that gives value to the money. Therefore, If we objectified both women and men- we wouldn't see each other as objects.

This sexual objectification becomes self objectification.

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 6:49pm

I loved this article, talk about calling it how it is. Thank you for sharing your insights…Namaste x

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 3:21pm

Thank you.

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 2:34pm

LOVE THIS!! I fight a death cage type mental battle with myself often and I have made a commitment to just STOP IT. This article will get tattooed…okay more like printed out and saved for times of battle. Thank you angel!

    anonymous Jul 12, 2014 6:02pm

    I hope that commitment is going well!!! Thank you so much, Kai!

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 2:20pm

It took me all of this morning to finish reading your article! I kept coming back in between reading emails and sending reports. I felt as if you were reading my mind, every minute of every day! I shall try to give my body the respect it deserves, I will remember everyday. Perhaps I will stop taking the Indian nut for weight loss, and the poop pills for weight loss, and the phen something pills for weight loss… Even though I am at my lowest weight in years, finally a size 8, which is good for me, although I live in fear of getting fat again and not being thin enough yet. I have been size 8 for a whole year, and I have not enjoyed one minute of it!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    anonymous Jul 12, 2014 6:03pm

    Hopefully you're enjoying your beautiful body a bit more now. 🙂 <3

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 2:05pm

I have just lost 13 kg’s my husband told me I looked better before. I know thats not true but I did’nt lose this weight for him. I lost it for me, I have worked my ass of in the gym, quite literally. Im 42 years old. I don’t read womans magazines, i don’t watch tv and I still really want to look good naked. I really really do. Whats more without destroying me or any other woman or children I am going to do it. I owe it to myself and aged 42 I am not into making excuses because really its not that hard to make the right food decisions if u really feel u deserve it. Even excercise, yoga, one hour everyday can make a huge difference. Women don’t want to look good just for men they like looking good because it’s good to look good. There is nothing wrong with looking good.looking good your version might not make u Cindy Crawford looking good and maybe thats the problem. No one wants to just be the best version of themselves. No we want to be better than everyone. You can’t blame anyone but women for the way they compete with each other.

    anonymous Jul 12, 2014 6:03pm

    Good for you for making choices that bring you happiness, Andrea.

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 2:04pm

Beautifully honest, Angel. Thank you!

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 1:30pm

I can't even tell you the number of ways in which I love this article…thank you for not being afraid to say what needed be said out loud. You rock!

    anonymous Jul 12, 2014 6:10pm

    You know what, Jean? YOU Rock!

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 1:20pm

I had the same response to that TED talk. "I do that. I think that. I do that, too."

Oh shit, I'm engaging in vulva-centric camaraderie with other social-veal!

    anonymous Apr 18, 2014 5:47am

    Bahahahahahahahaha I love vulva-centric camaraderie!

      anonymous Jul 12, 2014 5:53pm

      You guys are awesome!!!!!

      Vulva-centric camaraderie, for the win!!!

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 1:20pm

THANK YOU. That touched me very deeply. You are a beautiful and brave woman.

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 11:51am

thank you for writing this all down. this is my everyday.

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 11:48am

Thank you for writing this.

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 11:39am

Honesty… refreshing, beautiful. To look into your own heart and say what's there, to be vulnerable, takes amazing courage.

    anonymous Jul 12, 2014 6:13pm

    Thank you, Will. I appreciate that.

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 11:17am

Thank you SO much for this. My belly is just like yours and I have struggled with self-hate since I was a child. I was always compared to my beautiful mother and always fell short. Even when my body was (what I see now looking back) pretty damn awesome, I hated it. It's this horrible cycle of inadequacy and self-loathing. I really appreciate this honest article. <3

    anonymous Jul 12, 2014 6:13pm

    I really appreciate you! Maybe we can lobby to get a Barbie with a c-section scar and stretch marks! 🙂

anonymous Apr 12, 2014 12:09pm

"Angel Kalafatis …. likes to … make jewelry, binge on Netflix, and eat ice cream (and occasionally 'push [herself]—really, really hard—[to] make it to the gym two hours a day[,] five to seven days a week, count literally every calorie [and] lose about 10-15 pounds.)"

Based on common threads between 1) the author's About, and 2) elements of this article, I advise a title-rewrite of the article, from "The yoga of my body hatred – Angel Kalafatis", to:

How to throw the baby out with the bathwater, after binging on exercise to briefly dissipate the dissatisfaction predictably brought by a life mired by feelings of entitlement to proudly bath in sloth and gluttony, while pretending vulva-centric camaraderie with other social-veal, as we chain ourselves down–mentally, emotionally and spiritually–then hope for a human-doing to marry us, so he can make our pretentious foolishness work on paper

Now for some more direct advice: Santa Claus is not real; neither is the bogey man–and that includes whatever mythical hydra 'inundates us (especially women) with negative (when we whim) body images'. Rather: you are doing that. You have met the enemy–and it is you. So instead of eloquently emboldening yourself–thus reinforcing your neurosis-inducing ambivalence–I recommend you woman-up and set a better example for your children: 1) set a better example for your son, by ceasing your constant passive-aggressive allusions that women typically have it worse; 2) set a better example for your daughter–by A. not contributing to self-righteous, gyno-centric pity-parties, and B. being intolerant of anyone, including yourself, belittling your daughter's mother.

    anonymous Apr 16, 2014 9:44am

    Well, Russ, you read my article and a *very* brief, tongue-in-cheek bio at the end of it, so clearly you know me intimately and are therefore impeccably qualified to make sweeping, harsh, self-important judgments on my lifestyle and parenting. Let me make sure to print out your comment and internalize every word, because in addition to being highly productive and insightful, it was also spot-on. …

    anonymous Apr 16, 2014 11:23am

    Nothing like feeling inspired then having your full cup knocked out of your hand by the same male EJ trolls. ::insert Robert Downey eye roll meme:: Seriously, it’s tired…your time here is done. The element of surprise is lost on your reliabilty. Move along. Namaste, m*fers ♥

    Brilliant article. I applaud your candid nature and honesty. We need more! Carry on ♥♥

    anonymous Apr 16, 2014 12:43pm

    hate much???

    anonymous Apr 16, 2014 1:18pm

    You take a piece out of the writer's lighthearted self-description and throw it in her face, and then you prescribe a "fix." How unkind, whatever your motive. And how off the mark.

    Angel applies Baptiste's teaching beautifully and humbly to her situation. In this society, for women, self-image seems to be a particularly intractable issue, and the responses to her article speak to how well her words resonate with women.

    But we all can get lost in the dream landscape of our own thoughts and judgments, often to the detriment of our capacity to see, to love (including to love ourselves) and to feel compassion.

    Thank you Angel for a powerful reminder of how a practice can ground you.

      anonymous Jul 4, 2014 6:36pm

      Thank you Howard for your support <3

      anonymous Jul 12, 2014 5:50pm

      Thank you, Howard. <3

    anonymous Apr 16, 2014 3:40pm

    *insert eye roll here* russ needs to get over himself too! Ew. Haha

    anonymous Apr 16, 2014 7:04pm

    Wow….Just one question Russ…Are you on medication? Seriously, are you? I think the dosage needs to be adjusted.

    anonymous Apr 17, 2014 8:04am

    Russ….dude….lean in and listen closely….
    seriously, a little closer…..

    "Get a grip on yourself. Grow up. Share a bit of common courtesy. Decency. Stop judging. And if you can't handle it – stop reading posts that are meant to empower women."

    (which it does and it's brilliant and it's accurate and thoughtful)
    (thank you for sharing)

    and thank you for your consideration, Russ.

anonymous Apr 6, 2014 5:28pm

Breath in, breath out ………

anonymous Apr 6, 2014 4:41pm

I felt like I was reading my own thoughts. You captured my feelings with such profound accuracy, I can do nothing but say yes, yes, yes, yes. and Thank you, thank you, thank you. Wow. So refreshing, authentic, down-to-earth, and meaningful. I'd love to connect with you someday, somehow. I feel very inspired.

    anonymous Apr 7, 2014 8:14am

    Hey Marissa! Thank you! You can message me through my studio's facebook page! facebook.com/ddyaugusta I'd love to connect!

anonymous Apr 6, 2014 2:28pm

women are really messed up … you're just too into yourselves … it's rather silly

    anonymous Jul 4, 2014 1:50pm

    Travis, you don't really know about women, do you?

anonymous Apr 6, 2014 1:39pm

Something real and unpretentious on EJ. Wow! Thank you

anonymous Apr 6, 2014 10:18am

Thank you for this piece. I can relate.

anonymous Apr 6, 2014 9:32am

Thank you so much. I will read this again and again.

anonymous Apr 6, 2014 8:05am

Thank you guys for your support and your feedback!! 🙂

anonymous Apr 6, 2014 7:22am

very helpfull and awaking article, especially for women. thank you

anonymous Apr 5, 2014 5:46pm

The best Elephant Journal article I have read to date. Thank you.

anonymous Apr 4, 2014 7:32pm

Yes,yes thank you for this body loving inspiration. It amazing how body value is so easy to lose .

anonymous Apr 4, 2014 11:13am

I am you. Thank you.

anonymous Apr 3, 2014 10:22pm

Thank you for this honest, vulnerable and beautiful post. I needed exactly this today.

anonymous Apr 3, 2014 9:41pm

Wonderful article.

    anonymous Jan 8, 2015 10:24pm

    Thank you Angel, for this lovely and brutally honest piece of writing that rings so true to me. I hope you can ignore a post like the one the Russ-dude wrote. He has no clue. But all the girls comments here can show you how this body issue is a terrible constant in our lives. I am becoming a mindfulness teacher, practicing mindfulness every day. Although I do that, my self hatred in the body department is not getting less. I am learning to let go though. But in other areas. I still to this date have no clue how to let go of my body perfectionism. I am a 42 yo mom of four and put myself through a lot to keep looking young and beautiful. Sigh. I wished I could be more relaxed about the way I look. It’s just a space suit for crying out loud… Big kiss to you, brave woman.

    X Tanja
    Ps I could not post below so I squeezed myself in here 😉

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Angel Kalafatis

Angel Kalafatis is an uber-geeky, artsy, bookish, Zen Buddhist, Potterhead, empowerment coach, and yoga and meditation teacher. When she’s not acting as studio manager for Dancing Dogs Yoga in Augusta, Georgia, she likes to read, write, do graphic design, paint, make jewelry, binge on Netflix, and eat ice cream.