Learning to Love Your Body

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Like a lot of people, I wasn’t always comfortable with my body when I was younger. I am not 100% confident in it now, but I have learned to accept the body I was given…

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Photographer: Ryan Ammon

Despite having very good reasons for quitting dance, it is still a decision I battle with every day. I love dancing more than anything – the way you can just lose yourself to the music and not care about a thing in the world – but quitting was something I needed to do for myself. You see, I had come to the stage in my life where I needed to make decisions about my career. While dancing was a huge passion of mine, and I was making a dollar here and there out of doing corporate performances, there came a point where I realised I was never going to be able to make it a career. I had a phobia of expressing myself creatively through choreography (the thought of choreographing routines for anyone got me panicky) so full time dance teaching was never an option, and unfortunately I am too short to ever be considered as a dancer for any professional shows. As horrible as it sounds, that was the truth.

Even if I was dead set on dancing professionally on a cruise ship or in a production, my career as a dancer could go no further because of things I was unable to change about myself. No matter how much I worked on it, there was no changing my height, the size of my butt or how muscly my calf muscles were (in fact, if I continued to exercise and work harder as a dancer, this would only pronounce them more). Instead of letting it get to me, I came to terms with the fact that the body I had been given was not the body that was conducive with full time, professional dance (I think it is worth noting that I dreamed of being a show girl or ballerina – commercial jazz and hip hop are a lot more forgiving lines of dance). Having to come to terms with my body not being the perfect ‘Moulin Rouge’ body also helped me to come to terms with my body in general.

I had complexes about my body through out high school and my early 20’s, and funnily enough it was the inability to meet the requirements as a dancer that made me stop obsessing and hating on my physique. It was the realisation that these societal ideals of the perfect body type will follow us all through life, that made me lighten up on myself. No matter what I do, there will always be someone who judges the size of my bum, or the funny innie-outie belly button I have or even (still) make fun of my height. Unfortunately, even if I did want to change these things, they aren’t going to change (unless anyone knows of a plastic surgeon who specialises in navel augmentations?). This realisation helped me to learn to be happy with the card I was dealt.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to the leggy, tanned, svelte lasses all over Instagram (heck, all of these ‘fistpo’ pages make it a piece of cake with their aggregated portfolio of abs, bums and boobs), but that was the card that these women were dealt, and it isn’t always going to be the same one as everyone else’s. Comparing, and creating negativity around the comparisons, is damaging, but acknowledging, accepting and working on maintaining your own body to the standards you want for yourself is perfectly healthy and normal. Although I am never going to have Sjana Elise Earp’s (@SJanaelise on Instagram) figure, her long, athletic body inspires me to look after myself and work on the body I do have. Just because her mile long legs are gorgeous, it doesn’t mean my short, muscly ones aren’t, they are just a different gorgeous. You might not have the ‘instaperfect’ body, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care about it, love it and absolutely rock what you have – no matter how anyone makes you feel about it, nor what anyone chooses to say about it! Learning to love what you have been given is an extremely liberating feeling!

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