On Body Image (NEDA Week)
In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (February 22-28, 2021), here is a poem I wrote roughly 2 years ago about body positivity and self-love. Hope you enjoy. <3
to nourish the body
is to nourish the soul
to persist and stay present
is how life will unfold
attracting the world
how you want it to be
attracting the people
who can let you run free
to be kind to self
is to be kind to others
let it be
let it go
let yourself feel
you live to love
to love who?
To spread awareness and to connect with others this week, I also thought it would be best to address something that I have struggled with and still struggle with to this day:
And because I would like to keep this space as true to my heart as possible, this is the perfect opportunity for me to express what I must say about it now.
Although I am thankful to have never had an eating disorder myself, I speak on behalf of my personal experiences of former, severely low self-esteem with my body. It took years of inner work to get to where I am now, at a somewhat stable point of acceptance with my looks. But it is most definitely not the best as I would like it to be. And it is surely still—and probably always will be—a work in progress.
Growing up, I never felt great about how I looked. As a first-generation Filipina-American, the beauty standards in regards to physicality seemed unattainable for the body I was born with: short, pudgy, stubby, and small.
Recently, I have made an important realization that we often forget, or people do not even realize until they grow older: intangible beauty is extremely underrated.
Whereas visible beauty such as skinniness or muscle bulkiness can be easily identified, the invisible beauty within each of us is often not taken into consideration: the willingness to spread loving kindness, a commitment to learning, curiosity, integrity, accountability, honesty, and gratitude. Unlike the former, the latter are universal beauties that the world can never have too much of.
When I notice myself falling back into thoughts of inadequacy or ugliness, I try my best to observe them with neutral openness. I do not judge my inner voice, because resisting negativity only makes the inner pain yell at me louder. By inviting and embracing these inhibiting thoughts, I connect back to myself and recall that they do not serve me now. I choose to not attach to them; I only choose to connect with them at a distance. Connection of the darkness allows for greater mental space for me to maximize my own potential, through the connection of my limitless worth. It is only then that I remember what thoughts do serve me.
When we actively seek to distinguish what serves and what does not serve us, to try our best in diminishing the expectations we allow ourselves to become trapped into, to attempt to connect back to our bodies, and to feel our breaths, freedom sits patiently on the edges of your fingertips.
This is what I know now, and this is what I have learned:
The number on the scale must not quantify your health, value, or happiness.
You are not how much you weigh, because the weight of who you are is limitless.
Weight fluctuates, feelings come and go, and the perceptions of our body are fickle. In order to truly live comfortably in a permanent world of impermanence, we must accept what constitutes who we are with our wrinkles, curls, stretch marks, and all our so-called “flaws.”
Your body is not a graveyard for tension and hatred. It is your sanctuary for inner peace and what makes you jump for joy. Your body is there FOR you to flourish into the booming light that you are, to reach the highest heights you can go, and to nourish all the pure love within you.
We all want to physically exercise for our health. But perhaps the most pertinent exercise that we are the weakest on, derives from our minds:
We must work on our mental muscles to gently respect, accept, and eventually embrace our physical state of being for the INCREDIBLE work it does to keep you alive. Every. Single. Day.
Even right now as you read this, your heart just pumped some blood around your entire bodily systems, to maintain homeostasis, and to process the words you take in right now.
Your heart pumps with purpose.
And true confidence radiates inwardly from your heart, to the outward world around you.
I feel that eating disorders arise when one feels lost and disconnected in their own bodies. Eating disorders might happen when one feels unstable and anxious from the lack of control in their lives. Unfortunately, an observation I have come to is the common correlation of the modeling industry and its persistence of eating disorder or other mental health issues.
Nowadays, many models with the “perfect” bodies are physically the lightest they have ever been, but they carry the most weight in their hearts.
What if we can revise this narrative of perfection in which we are lightest on the outside, AND we feel lightest on the inside?
If you used to have or currently suffer from an eating disorder now, my heart goes out to you truly. It’s okay to feel insecure wherever you are right now, and I really do hope you see how beautiful you are. Recovery is hard. We constantly strive for perfection, instead of progress. Which makes us feel like failures, when really they are just baby steps in disguise. All great things take time. This patience, this is compassion.
Differentiate the thoughts that instill you with love, or thoughts that insinuate you with hatred. Fuel yourself up with what feels good. Healthy lifestyle also includes a nourishing mental diet.
If it comes at the cost of your own well-being, it is not worth it. Physical looks and attractiveness of the body are overrated. But invisible beauty is underrated. You are underrated.
When you feel like nothing, you will always be everything.
You are so much more than you think you are. Take care of yourself. And as always, I am sending much love your way.
- Kat <3