Today I was told: “You have a perfect body”

Ok, so we all like an ego boost, right? but when someone says something that’s the polar opposite to the narrative spinning around in your own mind, laughter feels like the most appropriate response.

*Cue: belly laugh*

I have a perfect body? Really, Sir? Don’t you see these saddlebags? Or the back fat? Or my arms that have lost the firmness of my early thirties? My darling, perfect isn’t the word I’d use to describe my body in this season of its evolution. But thank you for the kind gesture.

I don’t hate myself or my body anymore, which is huge progress. 

I understand that my body image has been negatively impacted and influenced by subjective external factors. However, I wouldn’t look at myself and say I have a perfect body. Far from it.

In therapy I was encouraged to think about what my body can do functionally, I was asked to consider the things about my whole self that make me who I am and identify physical attributes that I like about my body. It was hard and I had to call on close friends to help me with my homework. But even after those exercises, the idea of having a perfect body didn’t enter my psyche.

But let’s be honest, even without the extra weight, perfection was a distant dream.

My reflection on this lovely comment I received today took me back to something I’d written last summer:

While sitting with my friend last week, feeling safe and accepted, I realised, if someone rejects you because of your body, don’t punish your body, get new friends!!

That day in August, was the first time since lockdown had begun, that I’d ventured on a train, in to central London. I was in a binge phase of the binge-restrict cycle, felt fat and ugly and wanted to hide away. I only went out because I knew my friend was a real one. I knew she accepted me without judgment or condition and certainly didn’t base her love for me on my body or weight.

Improving my body image is an ongoing process, but being around people who accept me just the way I am and steering clear of those who don’t, helps tremendously.

I’ve devoted most of my life to the pursuit of a body that was acceptable, only to realise now that my body has always been acceptable to the right people – it wasn’t my body that needed to change, but the people and environment I subjected it to.

I pray from my heart that one day I will see what the right people around me see.

Until then, I will hear the words, “You have a perfect body”, and receive the compliment with appreciation and a smile of thanks, rather than the laughter of unbelief.

Takeaway: Surrounding myself with people who love and accept me and my body just as we are, will do wonders for my body imageand self esteem.

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