“I feel great in my body,
as long as I don’t see any mirrors.”
In the late afternoon last week, during an Embodied Intimacy module, more than twenty women gathered for a ritual. For the first part, we were invited to show the others in the group our naked selves. As we slowly took off our clothes, one by one, each woman was witnessed by everyone.
With each layer we let go of, we named a judgement, story or pain about our body that we wanted to release.
I was one of the first to begin and as I took off my clothes, I named my judgment about not having a stereotypical bikini-beach-girl body.
“I love the feeling of being in my body,” I said. “I love feeling my breasts, my belly, my butt. It’s all good as long as there is no mirror.”
Even though I was aware of my judgmental mind in this matter, I was painfully surprised by the hour that followed.
I was unable to calm my mind as I watched woman after woman show me their body.
It went ON and ON and ON.
“Would my belly look like this?” I thought. “Is mine a bit more flat? Do my breasts look like this? Is this a bit how my butt looks like?”
I feel some shame revealing this to you now. It was tiring, even exhausting, to be me in this situation. It felt like a light dose of mental torture.
I wished for once that I could look at my own body with completely unbiased, objective, compassionate eyes. I was so done with this self-shaming, self-dishonoring and self-disliking inner voice.
And I wasn’t the only one. Almost every single woman judged herself about things that often didn’t seem true in my opinion. It didn’t matter how thin or thick they were, it wasn’t good enough. And there didn’t seem to be any consistency between how much they critized themselves and how they looked.
Later, when we were all dancing naked together and the fun and joy of it overruled my experience, my judgments suddenly vanished. I took a deep breath and sank down in a soft relief. I surrendered.
I realized that no single dancing body looked the same. No single breast or butt looked the same. Neither did mine, I guess. There isn’t really anything to compare. You can’t compare a banana cake with a chocolate cake. They’re too different. You can have a preferences, yes, but you can’t compare them.
The way we love our body seems to have very little to do with how we actually look. Our self-perception is more about our own self-acceptance.