Last week, someone I didn’t know asked me what I liked about my body. My answer: eyebrows and ankles.
It was at IDEA World 2014 that I had this conversation of sorts. (IDEA World is the largest fitness convention on the planet and fortunately was held at the Anaheim Convention Center this year.) I spent two days at the conference and was inspired, challenged, and encouraged. It was a great experience.
Before we talk about my eyebrows though, let me share a few highlights from the conference. First and foremost, Jillian Michaels, whom I call “Jill”. I’m a big fan. Huge. In fact, I have been scheming to get on The Biggest Loser for years now just to befriend her and Bob. So, hearing from her in person was a hit. Yoga with Tara Stiles was another favorite – that yogi is some kind of awesome, chill, talented wonderful. She even spotted me as I kicked up into a handstand – “I got you girl”. And Diana Nyad floored me with her story of fulfilling a lifelong dream by swimming from Cuba to Florida at the age of 62. Talk about a person of both humility and extraordinary accomplishment (and personality)! Wow.
The fitness professionals/practitioners/athletes that presented in the smaller sessions were awesome too, albeit lesser known. We have so much to learn from the expertise, experience, successes and missteps of others. Thank you to all those who shared a piece of their work and story with me last week.
There was a smaller session in particular that made a mark on me. Personal trainer (and my new friend) Kasey Arena spoke of her journey with body image issues. This struggle hits close to home, so I immediately felt a connection to Kasey and her story. The most inspirational part is her current work with high school aged girls to address misconceptions, behaviors and struggles with their bodies.
Kasey led us through an exercise – she asked us what we liked about our body. All 200 of us sat there in silence. Now, I’m sure we each could come up with something, but not one of us was about to yell it aloud. (I mean, who wants to listen someone talk about how great their long legs, perky boobs, round buns and tight thighs are, right?) But, I was feeling bold and inspired after 2 days of awesomeness, so I yelled out what first came to mind: “Eyebrows and ankles.” It got a few laughs, although I wasn’t trying to be funny. At the moment, I tipped my “funny girl” hat and laughed.
(Aside: Let me be clear, there are more than two things that I like about my body. The struggle was to say them aloud.)
Later that day, I ran into a handful of people who called me out as the one who has great eyebrows and ankles. Cringe! I felt apologetic and embarrassed.
I am THAT girl. How annoying. I should apologize or make a joke or insult my own ass to make up for it. I almost said, “They’re not that great. You know, I was just trying to come up with something. You know. Sorry. You on the other hand have great buns/legs/lips/arms/shoulders/whatever.”
Instead, I just kept laughing it off until I realized the dork I was being. Why am I so uncomfortable admitting that I like something about my body? And why was I the only one, in a group of 200, to answer the question?
It’s because we don’t practice it often. It’s because we call that sort of thing “cocky”, “arrogant” or “stuck up”. It’s because we haven’t framed the conversation well.
It’s therapeutic to hear what people appreciate about themselves. Not because ankles, eyebrows, boobs, etc. are of significant importance. No, rather it’s the exercise of appreciating who we are (mind, body, spirit) and being bold enough to say the positive self thoughts aloud. We know the power putting thoughts into words has. It’s powerful for both us and those around us.
So, here I go again, this time on the internet.
I have great eyebrows! The shape, color and fullness fit my face really well.
I have a nice set of ankles! They’re the right amount of boney and rarely get swollen, preggo days in August excluded.
I wonder what you’re thinking right now?
Anyone else want to play? What do you like about your body? Come on, say it on the internet!