— Latina Magazine (@Latina) August 9, 2016
To the young woman checking herself out in the window at that restaurant today, pushing in your tummy, with a furtive sideways glance, critical, judging of yourself—you are beautiful.
Always have been, always will. You don’t know it; you don’t even see it.
It causes me pain to see you harshly judging yourself without even uttering a word. It’s painful because I know the feeling. I too had become intimately acquainted with every window and mirror reflection on every street corner.
One window offers a rosy, thin reflection; the very next one is shockingly unappealing. How is that even possible? It’s the same person, same reflection and two different windows on two different blocks—yet two vastly different experiences of self.
I see what you are doing. Pretending to look inside the window and into the restaurant trying to not appear vain. But really you’re seeing yourself—pushing, pulling, straightening your skirt, and hoping that by pulling it down at just the correct angle, you will cover that part of your body you are insecure about today.
I see you quickly changing emotional gears as your friend walks up to greet you. Though I wonder if the painful feelings linger. Maybe you’re thinking about how you look compared to your friend. Maybe inside you are planning your next diet while happily chatting away and catching up. Maybe you are anxiously thinking about how you didn’t work out today yet, but will do so as soon as you get home. Maybe you are deciding to opt out of the yummy meal you were looking forward to and have a Diet Coke instead.
To this woman I saw today—and so many others—I see you. I hear you. I am you. I understand.
There is freedom from this tortuous path. Even though it’s challenging, and it takes time, you can have a better relationship with your body—and with food. And it can be done in a way you never would have thought to pursue before—going towards the pain rather than a circuitous path around. Being mindful, rather than mindless and numbing out. Loving your way into a better relationship with food rather than simply having a black and white, “good” food, “bad” food attitude.
I’ve crawled my way out of these food and body shackles over the last two years, and there is a tremendous amount of peace and freedom from that place.
Let’s get you there too.
Start by embodying that gorgeous imperfect body. Stay grounded in your skin, even when you want to crawl out of it. By staying there you’re agreeing to be here. Agreeing to be you.
Add 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation per day and surf that urge to want to dissociate, trash talk yourself or obsessively head to the gym. See what’s on the other end of that negative thought bubble that hovers over you and leaves a smear on every window reflection.
Hang out with people like—well, me! People who are body positive, non-judgmental and have kindness to give out in spades.
Sample inviting pleasure in with eating, and by nourishing your body and caring for it by eating slowly and savoring every bite. Eschew fast, distracted eating aimed at forgetting that we have an appetite to begin with, because we are so ashamed of it.
Finally move your body because you respect and love it, not because you want to punish it for the stray piece of dark chocolate that you ate last night. Move your body in playful, joyful ways—hiking, yoga, walking, dancing—any way that reminds you that human beings were meant to move and be active.
To the young woman checking herself out in the mirror at that restaurant today—let’s go in the restaurant together. Let’s heal together. But first, let’s enjoy a killer meal together.
Author: Jenny Eden Berk
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina