With all the hoopla around body image in marketing and entertainment plus women becoming famous because of their beauty (I know an over discussed topic, but stay with me), it’s kinda hard for a 40 something (dear goddess, creeping closer to 50) overweight woman, to see herself as sensual, sexy, beautiful or even just pretty. The surreal images we are constantly bombarded with impacts our psyche in ways that marketers use to their advantage. It’s difficult to feel good about yourself when your inner voice (and bullying outside voices) are hyper critical of your bodies.
I think in some ways, I’m a typical woman who got caught up in life. With a fulltime job, step children, husband, a house to run, along with a 3 hour round trip, who the F#$% has time to think about self-care. A soak in the tub here, a manicure there and that’s about all I had time for. Yada, yada, yada, I got sick and everything came to a screeching halt and a reassessment of how I was treating myself and how I was showing up in life began. I gained a lot of weight during that time. I was my worst critic. I stopped looking in mirrors. I stopped paying attention to my body. I can remember on my way into a store and as I was walking in, I saw a large overweight woman, and I thought,” That poor girl”. Guess what, it was me! If I ignored what was happening to my body, it didn’t exist. In a sense I checked out of my body. The less aware you are of your body, the more disconnected you are from your body. I was living only in my head instead of being fully present and that head was full of anxiety and criticism.
So this year has been about exploration and body acceptance. Reconnecting to my body so that I am showing up and being present for myself, friends, family, and clients. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve had some stumbling blocks. Not making deadlines I made for myself, not showing up, not loving my body. Instead of hiding, like I used to do, I’ve started to notice the disconnect and have reached out to friends or other therapists to help me figure how to clear.
So this leads me to, as in all recent posts, bellydance class. I mean, really, if you can’t figure out how to love your body when you are jiggling it around, when will you ever be able to? I can’t tell you if it’s just the movement that makes me have epiphanies, or looking in the mirror, or the support from the instructor or the acceptance of the women in the studio, or the hypnotherapy sessions. Perhaps it’s everything combined. Three weeks ago, I was in a class and we were learning how to do forward hip figure eights.
She started us off with rocking our hips from side to side, with our feet planted firmly on the ground, bent knee. We swayed our right hip forward, then moving it backward allowing our left hip to slide forward and back to create the eight. As the instructor was moving around checking our positioning, we continued to move on our own. I watched my hip and pelvis travel forward and around, it hit me. I saw the sensuality and the beauty of the movement in MY body, even with being overweight. Tears started to come into my eyes, and I clamped down hard on the emotion afraid to be noticed and have them think I was crying out of upset or sadness. The tears came because at that moment, I got it.
As I moved through the eights, I saw myself as a young woman, stepping out of the shower, lovingly taking care of my body. Enjoying the power of my sensuality and self-confidence and realizing I had been neglecting me for so long. Most importantly I realized I was ready to call that back into myself. With that realization I heard in my head “self-care is divine”. This was an opportunity for a reawakening of the divine feminine. Moving, I called back in the power of the feminine, knowing I will never let it go, even if I reach 80 years old. That power is amazing, because, it’s about feeling the beauty and strength within ourselves even if we don’t consider ourselves to look beautiful. It’s inner beauty that shines out as strength and confidence of being a woman. I suddenly thought of Maya Angelou’s poem, Phenomenal Woman.
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
“Phenomenal woman, that’s me” and every woman who reads this, that’s you too. That day, I took another step closer to my true self, reclaiming my free spirit. Reclaiming the diving feminine. How are you stepping into your own power?