8d25023u - Girl straightening seams in her stockings - Detroit, Michigan

Mirrors can be friend or enemy. Look at yourself with an appreciative eye.

Poor body image and insufficient self-love has gone on quite long enough.  Forget excuses about culture or insecurity, how we view and treat our bodies is up to us. It’s our responsibility.  Lately I’ve been hearing more and more about what people think is wrong with themselves. Maybe I’ve had some similar voices running around in my head too. However, I know for a fact, and I’m telling you, those voices are wrong. If you do this exercise with me, you’ll see why.

Right now, take off your shoes and socks and look down at your feet. Study their details. Scars, callouses, soft spots, veins, bones, everything.  Now think about all the events that left those marks. Remember all the adventures those feet have taken you through. Think of the steps they took when you thought you couldn’t move.  Now say thank you to your feet. SAY IT!

Racy on a Racer, 1948

Dear legs, thanks pedaling me to this spectacular view!

Now stretch out your legs. Take some time with your legs. Break out the lotion while you look them over.  Remember all the times they’ve ached from carrying you up stairs or inclines. Remember the dance floors they’ve whisked you across and the views they’ve helped you reach. Remember the speed they’ve gained when you had to run to a loved one or race across a playing field.  Now say thank you to your legs.

Now your butt. Thank your butt for all those road trips, bike or horse rides, squats or steps up. Next is your core: your abdomen and back. Thank your core for the times you stood tall or stood up, for the people you’ve been able to support because it supported you, and for helping you balance on those ice skates or tightrope.

Move on to your arms that cradle your neice, embrace your love, stretch to make a catch, lift your bags, steer your car, and push you off the ground. Then appreciate your hands and fingers which turn pages, pet animals, feel…everything really, hold precious belongings, and lock fingers with the one you love.   Thank your fingers, hands, and arms.

Next your neck, your head, your hair, your lips, nose, eyes, and ears.  No matter what their size, shape or color, they do extraordinary functions that shape the way you are able to take in and take on the world. Remember the smells, the sights, the sounds, and kisses!

Your body has done and still does so much for you.  You love your body for this, and you have to show it. Say to yourself, body, you keep working for me, and I will work so hard for you.  You will swim, run, and train to make your body stronger. You will test its limits in races and games.  You will eat food that will make it strong and not sick.  If your body has the ability and fortitude to make it through a rewarding fast paced five-miler, then you will have the determination to wake up and get out of bed for your 6am alarm.  If your body sweats through bench presses, bar squats, and bicep curls, then you must have the discipline to go to the gym after a day in the office.  If your body will take you everywhere you want to go, then you will have the restraint to resist taking it to the donut shop.

Most importantly, when you walk down the hall towards a full length mirror, you must appreciate what’s there. Your body is beautiful because of what it can do, and you are just as beautiful for what you allow it to.