Ditch your body-shaming ex, like, NOW!
After tacking on an extra 20 pounds of weight following my 40th birthday, my husband began to complain about my weight gain. His body shaming felt heavier than the actual pounds and left me with a severely damaged self image.
During this time of self hatred, I wasn’t aware of my husband’s infidelity, so when I found out, I wondered if his cheating was my own fault — did that extra 20 pounds make me unattractive? Instead of appreciating my cellulite free legs and full breasts, I started to focus on my soft abdomen and that stupid back-fat around my bra line. I began to layer on clothes to cover up the body my husband (and now myself) disapproved of. During sex I was pre-occupied with thoughts of how my body was undesirable to him — I wouldn’t let him see me naked. I was embarrassed and disconnected from my own body.
After my divorce I decided to try something new to shake his taunting words from my head forever — I signed up for a pole dancing class. Even after one class I felt my negative thoughts about my body start to ease. Over time it helped me continue to shed my own insecurities and I learned to appreciate my body and the sexy, sensual woman I had become.
Many women regularly struggle with body issues — use these 4 steps to shed those insecurities and rediscover a love and appreciation for your own body:
1. Take a movement class to make you start feeling sexy again
Take the plunge and sign up for a pole or belly dancing class. At first, during my initial pole dancing class, I felt awkward and intimidated — but when I went back for the next couple classes, I was the one encouraging the younger women to shed their fears and let go. The class awakened the feisty, spirited and sensual woman I used to be, and as I watched myself in the mirror gracefully swirl around the pole, I noticed that I started appreciating the curve of my butt, my shapely calves, and the way my shoulders looked as I spun around the pole. I never once thought about trying to get some guy's approval, and it wasn’t about pleasing someone else — it was all about how I felt about myself and the appreciation I was starting to regain for my body. Learning to accept and love your body is an ongoing process and a pole dancing class is one of the surprising ways you can make great strides toward seeing yourself as a strong and sensual woman.
2. Overcome bad thinking habits
When you catch yourself thinking negatively about your body, redirect your thoughts to more positive things — what DO you like about your body? What makes you special and unique? You can even remind yourself of a memory of when you felt strong, confident and capable in your body.
3. Pamper yourself
Pamper your body with care — rub your skin with fragrant oils, lotions, get a massage or a manicure, or try new body treatments at a spa or sauna. Don’t wait until you’re down to treat yourself either — maintaining your positive body image is an ongoing process and something you should be doing on a regular basis.
4. Appreciate your body and everything it’s done for you
Take the time to appreciate your body for its functionality and the gifts it gives you every day— your lungs let you breathe, your eyes help you see and your ears let you hear. Learn to love yourself as you are.
Over time, using these 4 steps can help you gain the positive body image you deserve. After practicing these myself, my inner strength increased and it was empowering to see my body capable of doing moves I’d only dreamed of doing before. More so, I felt strong.
Are you rediscovering yourself after a divorce? Reach out to me on Twitter at @pattybluehayes if you'd like help with a self-discovery action plan.
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