I will start with the inspiration for this letter. As I walked to work the other day, I saw you running. I thought “good for you!” and then remembered that I am not ready for this half marathon on Sunday. Whoops.
Anyway, as I began stressing myself out over possible knee issues or whatever terrible ailment will befall me during my own 13.1 miles, I noticed you a little more. With every dark building you passed, your head would turn to catch a glimpse of your reflection. You messed with your hair. You adjusted your shirt. It never seemed like anything was quite the way you wanted it.
Was I missing something? I saw an athletic woman taking care of her body and using her strength to put one foot in front of the other. What did you see?
My second inspiration comes from conversations and off-handed comments that you probably have already forgotten. They stuck with me because of a common theme. Many of you whom I have talked to emphasize your willingness to work out in public only AFTER you have achieved some type of external goal. To look a certain way so as to avoid what you think people will perceive of you.
I can’t tell you how sad this makes me.
I’ve had my own struggles with body image and self-worth and I am by no means here to tell you that I am above it all. In fact, during many times in my life this letter is also addressed to me. What I have learned through those issues, however, is that the only one that can make you feel bad about yourself is YOU. What if we all drew attention to our assets rather than our weaknesses?
How much of life do we miss by hiding? How many opportunities would open up to you just by being willing to be YOURSELF and explore the things that you enjoy? How much space could we free up in our heads by ceasing the incessant comparisons and judgments?
I want to ask you to put down the bat. Stop the shaming. Start embracing yourselves. Say something nice to yourself in the mirror instead of meeting your reflection with condescension. I want so badly to let everyone woman know (myself included) that she is amazing just the way she is. That I can actually see you and not the mask you put on and present to the world. And you’re beautiful.
Please, can we all stop hiding and take a little time to celebrate our beauty and our strengths?
Thanks Amanda for letting me think out loud.
- What do you do to celebrate your strengths?