Lately I’ve been really struggling with accepting my body as it is, imperfections and all. Yesterday was an especially difficult day; I went out shopping and ended up having a panic attack because I was so horrified by the person staring back at me in the mirror. The above picture is actually from the dressing room. I’ve somewhat come to terms with how I look in the dress, though given the opportunity, I think I could probably come up with about ten thousand things that are wrong with me and with the photo.
But where is the benefit in that? What does that gain me? What does it gain anyone, really, to look at themselves and name everything wrong that they think they see? Especially since I have body dysmorphia; logically, I know that what my eyes trick me into perceiving is not real. In theory, it’s easy to acknowledge this. In practice, when you’re standing in a horrendously brightly lit dressing room the size of a tiny closet with mirrors glaring at you wherever you look, it’s a lot harder.
But I’ll ask again… what positives come from compiling such a thoroughly negative list? I could spend my time taking apart every square inch of the photo from top to bottom, dissecting each little piece of me.
Or I could do the same, but with a positive spin.
So I now hereby present to you my list of everything I’m grateful for about my body and myself. This isn’t out of an effort to sound narcissistic or self-absorbed; I’m probably one of the least confident people you’ll ever meet, which is part of why I think this list is such a good idea for me. And for anyone, really, who suffers with poor body image and self-consciousness or is just plain lacking in the ability to be content with themselves. This is something I hope to add to from time to time as I continue to discover things about myself that I am at peace with.
- I am grateful for my beating heart, which keeps me alive so that I can wake up every morning to a world of possibilities. I am grateful for the fact that it is still continuing to beat, despite my eating disorder’s best efforts to stop it altogether.
- I am grateful for my functioning lungs, which allow me to take deep breaths when I need to calm myself and inhale the smell of rain on the wind.
- I am grateful for my sense of sight, which allows me to perceive all the beauty and wonder that exists around me. I am grateful that I can see an infinite myriad colors and shapes; that I can see nature in all its majesty and amazing works of art.
- I am grateful for my ability to hear, because life would be miserable without the sounds of others’ laughter, the sound of music that suffuses me with happiness, the sound of birds singing in the morning as I wake up to a brand new day, and the sound of rain pattering on the roof during a torrential thunderstorm.
- I am grateful for my hair that has started to gain back some of the strength and shine that it had lost due to my refusing to eat. I am grateful for its ability to be either straight or curly, even when the humidity makes me somewhat resemble a poodle.
- I am grateful for my eyes, which like my sense of sight, allow me to take in everything around me. I am grateful for the way they resemble the eyes of my family.
- I am also grateful for my nose; for all the times I’ve spent agonizing over it in the mirror, it is a sign that I am related to some wonderful, incredible people, and of my heritage.
- I am grateful for my smile, which makes an appearance whenever even the littlest thing makes me happy. I am grateful for the way it signals joy and has regained the ability to mirror my happiness in my eyes.
- I am grateful for my arms, because they allow me to carry things and hug people and wave whenever I see a friend.
- I am grateful for my legs, which take me anywhere I want to go and are now strong enough again to support me without my needing to sit down after just a short walk.
- I am grateful for my skin, with all its scars and flaws, as it represents all the struggles I’ve been through and overcome. I am grateful for the way it tans in the summertime and looks alabaster pale in the winter. I am grateful for how it demonstrates that I have been through the darkest and most difficult times and am still alive.
- I am grateful for my stomach, which has always been my biggest source of discomfort and discontent. I am grateful for the way it signals me that I need to eat, and the way that it also tells me when I’ve had enough. I am grateful for the way it still functions properly after all the damage I did to myself.
- I am grateful for my nails, which, like my hair, have become a lot stronger and less brittle. I am grateful for the way they can be painted and decorated depending on how I’m feeling at the moment.
- I am grateful for my cellulite; yes, even the fat that sits on my body, because I know it is essential to keeping me alive and functioning. I am grateful for the way it gives me curves like a normal human being instead of looking skeletal.
- I am grateful for my laugh, which is a sound that is full and happy and makes me laugh even more.
- I am grateful for my ability to write, which allows me to convey things that I might not have otherwise been able to say. I am grateful for the happiness it brings me, the new and exciting worlds to which it takes me, and the inspiration it provides me with.
- I am grateful for my short height, which allows me to be enveloped completely in warm hugs and to fit into small spaces, like when I’m sitting amongst hundreds of other people watching a fireworks show or riding the elevators in the library to the top floor to look out on the beautiful campus below.
- I am grateful for my ability to create art; to draw, paint, and design, because it allows me to express my creativity in a tangible way and to depict the way I see the world. I am grateful for all the experiences it has given me and for all those that I still have yet to have.
- I am grateful for my ability to speak, because it permits me to communicate with others, to share stories and journeys, and to put words to the things I am feeling.
- I am grateful for my ability to stand up for what I believe in and speak out when something I think is wrong occurs.
- I am grateful for my ability to be kind, generous, and giving to others, without expecting anything in return.
- I am grateful for my cheeks, which have also been a source of discontent for me my whole life, because of their dimples and the way they help my smile reach my whole face.
- I am grateful for my sense of touch, which allows me to feel textures and shapes; to feel cold and wrap myself up in a comfy blanket or warm and comfortable as a languid summer breeze tickles my nose.
- I am grateful for my sense of taste; for my ability to perceive sweet, savory, spicy, and so many other flavors.
- And perhaps most importantly, I am grateful for my whole body for not giving up on me even though for a time I gave up on it. I am grateful for all the work it does to keep me living, despite how desperately I’ve tried to defy these natural processes.
What are you grateful for about yourself? I challenge you to create a similar list, even if you’re not feeling particularly down or depressed. It really does help put a smile on your face, which is always something you should be grateful for! 🙂