If you resolve just one thing, make it this one: to treat yourself more kindly.
—by Beth Wolfer
I’ve resolved many times over to love myself, but loving myself has almost always been conditional. I could love myself once I looked different. It was always about losing weight, getting smaller, becoming less self-conscious in a body-conscious society.
There were a few times in my adult life when I felt good about my body – usually attained by extreme dieting, medication (man, did I love Phen-Fen!) and more-than-usual exercise. But I never stayed that size – my default is a size 12-14 with a new bonus 30 pounds, thanks to menopause and in spite of various cleanses and the abolition of gluten, sugar and all that fun stuff.
So I’m thinking that, at my age and stature, maybe it’s time to let go of the weight loss resolution, and resolve instead to love myself —not after I hit some magic number on a scale or jeans tag, but as I am, right now, right here.
Of course, it helps to have songs like Meaghan Trainor’s All About That Bass and JLo’s Booty and Kim Kardashian’s internet-breaking hiney magazine covers, all celebrating women’s considerable backsides front-and-center.
Wouldn’t it be healthier all the way around, whether we beat ourselves up for our jiggly thighs or our pack-a-day habit, if we just stopped with the negative self-talk?
What if, and I know this may seem radical, we tried, just tried, to love ourselves as we are? Today. Right this minute.
I gave this a whirl last week in Zumba class. Zumba, if you’re not familiar with it, is a Latin-based aerobics class that hit the scene a few years ago and, in my opinion, gives middle-aged white women an excuse to shake our ample hips. I was sporting my oversized Carpe the Damn Diem T-shirt over my roomy black yoga pants, but instead of heading to the back corner, I took my place on the second row and acted like I belonged there. When my favorite song “Booty” came on I owned that sucker. I shook and twerked and shimmied as though my back side—and the back sides of all 40 of us in that class—were to be celebrated.
I felt such freedom! Such joy! I paused the streaming undercurrent of negative self-talk, and it was fantastic! It was, “Oh yeah, uh huh, that’s right… shake that thang.” I left high on endorphins, and on me-being-awesome, and it lasted all day. Writer, professor and mom-jeans wearer Brené Brown says in her book The Gifts of Imperfection, “Practicing self-love means learning how to trust ourselves, to treat ourselves with respect, and to be kind and affectionate to ourselves. This is a tall order given how hard most of us are on ourselves. I know I can talk to myself in ways that I would never consider talking to another person.”
Accepting ourselves as we are seems to contradict the idea of making New Year’s resolutions. But there’s nothing wrong with setting an intention to be better to yourself, whatever that entails. For my part, I’m going to keep going to the front of my Zumba class in an effort to continue my quest of loving myself today, booty and all.
Beth Wolfer lives, loves, and works in Salt Lake City and beyond.