In a world where beauty trends come and go at a constant rate, how can you keep feeling good about yourself without getting a comparison headache? Orlee Klempner, Giada’s yoga and meditation teacher, weighs in on how we can define our own self image.
If Giada could talk to teen Giada, she would tell her, “don’t care about what society tells you what beauty is. Their definition is going to change anyway.”
Society has shown us beauty from voluptuous to skinny to voluptuous again, tricking us to think that if we didn’t look like the girl on the cover of a magazine, that we have been doing it all wrong. They do this by telling us how so and so got that bod, and you can too! Just diet like the person on the front cover and it’ll work! This can set us up for failure.
Most of the time, it just isn’t true. The one on the front cover doesn’t usually work out or eat as the magazine says. But ok, let’s play devil’s advocate here. If say, it was an interview and the one on the cover actually does say how she diets and exercises, we must consider how this has been edited by the magazine so that readers will want to read their magazine and how the photos have been photoshopped.
Exercise. Exercise is important in keeping you healthy. It keeps your blood circulating, metabolism running, bone strengthening, mental well-being and much, much more. Society has evolved a part of exercise to be a dial on the body to control the way we look – a little more definition here, a little more leaning out there, etc. Some of these crazy classes are great in that they offer community, adding to mental health. But when we believe in the dial, we are taking away from mental health. It is important to check your motivations for exercise. Being in this world of fitness/yoga, I have come to know people and myself!, who have believed that this is beauty and it is a really important way to cultivate looking attractive, to attract others and connect. Obsessing may start to permeate, and frustration when the scale doesn’t go your way. Going to cross-fit, or doubling up on classes is not wrong by any means. When we take a moment to ask what our motivations are, we can get feedback. This allows us to notice our own beliefs about ourselves, created by our communities that taught us a feeling of choicelessness, and realize that we do have choice outside of these limiting beliefs.
Dieting. We must also consider, that this is a slice of life. We are human, and it is simply unrealistic to keep a rigid diet that has been created for false lasting results. You may very well get the results you’ve always wanted. How long can you sustain such harsh parameters? Most diets are not designed for longevity. They are designed to make you lose weight. Often times that means your body is lacking in things it needs and taking in things that do not serve it well.
Giada says she likes to eat to feel good. This takes paying attention. Different people respond uniquely to various foods. Notice what brings down your energy, hinders good digestion and effects mental well-being and focus. By staying present with your body and its sensations during and after eating can be good feedback about what’s working and what’s not. And, this can shift seasonally. Your body may need different components in different seasons.
I like to go in to each meal with an intention of staying present. I silently repeat, “may this meal nourish me for my well-being.” This causes me to pay attention more fully to the choices I make on my plate, pace myself more intentionally, and stay with my energy affects after the meal, noticing digestion. Then I have a more informed choice making experience the next time around. I had the privilege of being a silent retreat last week and was gifted the time to not only eat with this awareness, but practice gratitude for my meal in that I reflected on the process how the foods before me got there. From the sun that shone for the plant to grow, to the delivery truck dropping off to the place of purchase.
Acceptance. There are times we want what we can’t have. Growing up with scars on my belly from surgery the day I was born, I was ashamed in swim class. I noticed everyone’s clean abdomens and that mine was different. Kids would laugh and say I had a second belly button. I would play along, pretending I wasn’t effected. This was so confusing, I built a belief around it! A belief of fitting in. Of belonging. A lot of us do this in our own way. I discovered how different I am from everyone else, not noticing how we are actually alike in a lot of ways, and beyond sight. It has taken and still takes a lot of work to remind myself that these differences I’ve discovered throughout life are not wrong. In fact, they are something to celebrate. This body that allows us to function in life to some extent is a gift!
Have you ever brushed your teeth and look up at the mirror and suddenly noticed the lines outside your eyes? Or, the grey hairs coming in? And, realize, “I’ve aged.” Well yeah! You just might’ve been too busy thinking while brushing your teeth. Seeing other images in the mind instead of looking at your reflection. The more we stay present, the more we stay with the changing moment-to-moment experience. That means, there is possibility to not holding on too much to what we once looked like and what we want to look like. Because, often times we are holding on so tight to an idea that we can create a sense of coming up short, disappointed and unhappy with ourselves.
Beauty really does go beyond sight. The more awareness you have about what serves you and doesn’t, the more you will become aware of your deepest desires and perhaps steer your life in that direction.
Even though self-image isn’t our deepest way in to connecting with higher consciousness, it is a topic of discussion. It causes a lot of suffering in people. To heal ourselves fully, we must love ourselves fully. That begins with self-kindness and self-image is just one of those ways.