Body Acceptance: Loving My Body, Old and New

By , SparkPeople Blogger
By Beth Donovan aka ~Indygirl

I can’t remember ever liking my body as a child or a teen. In my 20s, if I did like it, even for a second, it was only because I had “starved well” that day. In my 30s I definitely hated my body and in my 40s I was bigger than ever, weighing in at 460 at my highest. Oddly enough, it’s in my 40s that I’ve started accepting my body more.

I don’t know exactly what has changed, but my body is no longer subject to my rules of perfectionism. I have, in fact, granted myself permission to have a bad hair day, an “I feel bloated day” or a day when I’m just off my game. I used to stand in front of the mirror for an hour primping and preening, having to look just perfect before I would leave the house. If I couldn’t achieve what I thought was needed, I was bad enough off about my self image that I would call off school and even work. I would cry and starve myself the whole day in an attempt to make up for my failure.

What did I see in the mirror that was so wrong? I was fat. I hated my hair. I had a zit. My mascara was odd. You see, nothing else could be wrong if I was fat. I had to make up for it in every other way. I had to be perfect to overcompensate for being fat. I needed perfect grades, perfect makeup, perfect clothes, and never to make mistakes. Let’s face it: I set myself up for the failure and depression I suffered with expectations like that.

Where did those expectations come from? From a very young age, my mother and her family rode me about my weight. My mother said she didn’t want me to suffer by being overweight as she did, but her tactics were very cruel. Name calling, pointing at parts of my body and asking “What is that?” and commenting about whether I was or was not eating were prime examples. No matter what I did, she was not pleased. The rest of the family just kept lecturing, taking their diet pills and starving, setting a great example for my bulimic teens and 20s. I’ll save that story for another blog.

How did I go from the 200’s and hating my body to the 300’s and accepting my body more? Therapy helped, so did losing the toxic people who made me hate my body in the first place. I really believe we don’t loathe our bodies naturally. Children don’t hate their bodies until somebody points out that theirs are different. I think it’s a learned behavior. If it is learned, it can be relearned a different way, a healthier way.

First I lost a relationship that was fairly toxic to me. At the time, however, I would have done anything for this person, who reminded me constantly of my weight problem. One time he even point blank asked me “So when are you going to look like a cheerleader?” Still, thinking I was in the wrong, I began a bulimic cycle that took years of therapy to undo.

I also lost my grandmother, who was diet pill happy and could not resist telling me about how I would be so much prettier if I were slender. My mother also passed away, and I no longer had anyone telling me how I should feel about my body, except strangers who take it upon themselves to belittle others. I miss my mother and grandmother greatly, but I don’t miss the pressure they put on me to be thin. That pressure made it virtually impossible to love my body.

Tips to love your body now:

  1. Don’t let others be your mirror unless they are a positive one.
  2. Find what you like about your body and play it up.
  3. Spend time admiring things about yourself in the mirror and in pictures.
  4. Do things that make you feel beautiful.
  5. Protect yourself from toxic people who belittle your beauty.
  6. Avoid comparing bodies.
  7. Relearn to love yourself.
  8. Participate in things that make you feel good about your body.
  9. Discover your style and appreciate it.
  10. If you can’t find yourself, reinvent yourself.

Just like you learned to hate your body, you can learn to love it again. Personally, I got a tattoo on my right shoulder of some Victorian flowers that signify that I will no longer wait to live--life is happening now, not 10 pounds from now. It reminds me to love what I have and move on in freedom, stopping to smell the flowers along the way.

Have you learned to love your body, or are you still struggling to accept yourself for who you are now? Do you have any advice for others who might be struggling?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


GRAMDEB16 8/13/2020
Great article! I always hated the way I looked until I hit my 60s and my mom passed away due to a fall. Now my looks are not so important anymore —- being healthy is my goal, no matter what the weight! Report
KOALA_BEAR 6/24/2020
I don't hate my body but I don't love it either. I appreciate what it can do as there are now some limits. When I was younger, thin & shapely, it wasn't perfect but I would like to have that size back & take better csre of it so I'm working to make that part up - feeding it good nutrition & exercising daily. Report
Thank you. Report
This is a great blog. Report
Thanks Report
Oh, brother, can I relate to this! My mom was skinny and needled me about my weight frequently. While I lived at home I never weighed more than 130. She also criticized my dad and his family for their (over) enjoyment of food. Mom really didn't care about food at all. I don't hate my body, but I still have an unrealistic body image. Thanks for sharing. Report
Great blog! Report
Great blog! Report
I think the 10th tip says it best. One can ALWAYS reinvent herself! That's what I am working on now. Report
I really needed to read this blog entry at this point in my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Report
This whole issue is a big deal for me. I used to be the little skinny thing all my life; I didn't even weigh enough to donate blood, back when I was in college.

And *then* I turned 40 and got married in the same year, in 2001. Since then, I have slowly gained about 40 pounds, mostly since menopause. In 2012-2013, I went from the high 140s to the mid-160s, which is really depressing to me. I think a lot of that was from the three semesters when all my classes were at night (I'm a college English instructor), which completely messed up my sleep cycles and eating habits and everything. Low thyroid contributed to that too... I'm on thyroid meds and my doctor says my levels are good, but the weight hasn't dropped. I've gone from being a very small pear shape to an "apple".

I loathe what I look like, to the point that I don't even like taking a nice hot bath like I used to -- it's disgusting. At least in the shower I don't have to see myself. Report
Still struggling after 40 years! However, as I age I dwell less on how others may judge me and look inward for peace and happiness. Report
I think I may need to hold on to this. I really do not like my body......I really have never been all that keen on it.....well some days yes. BUT this is a very good reminder. Thanks Report
Aaaaaaaaaaah Beth! I just found this blog, more than a year after it was written. God must have known I wasn't ready for it before now! I have saved your blog to read again and think about. I have a very private blog forming in my mind .... THANK YOU! Report
Excellent blog. We have to love ourselves first, find ourselves worthy of love. Then we can give love and we will receive love.

Barb Report
Love it....... I have always struggled with accepting me for me......thin,fat,long hair, short hair, straight hair,kinky hair..... I have never been comfortable in my own in my 40's I am definitely trying a lot harder to get there.....Thanks for the blog Report
I am learning to love me...which is better than loving my body or a body part.
The thing about getting older....hopefully you gain wisdom and focus on what is important. Being healthy is beautiful! Report
Sounds very familiar! Thanx for this blog! Report
I love my body more now than I did in high school, which was 24 lbs. ago! I've been trying to accept my body for over a year, and I'm getting a lot better at it! Report
Thanks so much for your advice in this blog. It helped me a lot. It is just what I needed to hear. Report
Great Blog. Reading what you have written made me acknowledge a self-deprecating habit I need to overcome. I get so angry with myself if my reflection in the mirror isn't up to whatever standard I've arbitrarily set for myself. If my hair isn't quite right, I fuss and frown and tell myself I look awful. I'll angrily change from one blouse to another and then another searching for one that, in my mind, makes me look thinner. I'll convince myself I don't want to go out... even for something I've been looking forward to and will enjoy.

This crap has to stop. Right now.

Terrific blog! you hit it right on the mark! I saved this to my favorites both to inspire myself and to show to my 17 yr. old who hates herself no matter what I say. She is beautiful but convinced she is ugly, yeah she could lose some weight but who cares? I just want her to be healthy and happy with herself. Thank you for sharing your story you inspire us all. Report
Good tips although I'm still struggling to accept the wrinkles and sagging skin that comes with old age. :-( Report
I try to look at myself naked every day and at least accept my body without judgement and if possible, admire my body, just as it is. Report
Re: "I will no longer wait to live--life is happening now, not 10 pounds from now." I absolutely LOVE this! Thank you for sharing your insight and thoughts. You are truly and inspiration. Report
Very interesting comments. It is nice to hear another point of view. I agree with what the blogger is say. I myself sometimes tend to be one of the people who harp on weight, myself and others. Report
Thanks for sharing your story. You bring up valid points about loving oneself and getting rid of those that are only supplying negativity to your life. I will definelty use your tips inorder to learn to love myself! Report
awesome blog. you are so right about ditching those that make you feel bad. We are on the same road, except I am just getting on at 32.

Cheers to loving yourself the way you are. It makes life so much better. Report
Wonderful blog! Good for you for accepting yourself for who you are - that's something that many of us struggle with. ((hugs)) Report
Great blog! Report
Terrific blog from a terrific blogger. You rock! Report
Fantastic article. I will remind myself of these things daily. Thank-you. Report
I love your blogs but it is so hard for me to relate. Maybe that's why I love reading them. I sit with my mouth wide opened, wondering... how could that be? I was always thin, being fat is a new experience for me that seemed to come on suddenly, or so it seemed. It was like the Fat Fierry struck me with her wond in the middle of the night... and Poof! I know when we grow older there are changes, but I never expected this. I know that when I look in the mirror I don't like my body, but it's still MY body and loving it is what will make the difference. Thank you for making me see this more clearly.
Hugs! Becky Report
I love your blogs so much, PLEASE keep writing them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I think we need a Coach Beth Fanclub. Report
Thank you for a touching, empowering, awesome blog. I'm happy you are growing along the journey of life and appreciating all the moments along the way. I wish you continued blessings and new discoveries about yourself along the way. Report
Learning to love my loose flabby skin. Guess it comes with the weight lose. Report
Reading this today has inspired me to WRITE a blog I've been thinking about - "Who is that thin girl in the mirror"? The fascinating thing is that I weight 20 to 30 pounds more now than I weighed in my twenties when I saw a fat girl in the mirror. I don't know if its age, self acceptance, or what, but I LOVE who I see in the mirror now!! I'll take being older any old day - because now I can love myself just as I am!! Report
Thank you Beth for a wonderful blog!

My mother was living with my oldest Sister in PA due to Alzhimers. When it was decided to place her in an Alzhimers unit I went back to PA to help with the move. As soon as she saw me there was a big smile on her face and she said Susie it's so good to see you. When she called me Susie I knew she knew who I was. If she had called me Susan that was how I introduced myself to her when she asked me who I was. The next morning we packed the car and were heading back to WI. First we stopped off to have breakfast. While waiting for our food Mom looked at me and said Susie I am so happy to see you I just didn't think I would see so much of you. I couldn't get mad it was just so typical mother. Report
My mother and your mother could have been sisters. Only my mother was not quite as bad as yours. When I got married I had to contend with a MIL who thought the same way as my mother. The thing of it is looking back I was not fat maybe according to their standards but looking at pictures from back then i looked pretty darn good. They are both gone now and so is the pressure. Myself I made darn sure that I never made my children feel the way I felt about myself after hearing their comments. Great blog Beth as always.! Report
Wow - what a great blog. Thanks so much for the tips, I'm going to write them down. Report
I loved my body until I was 40. At that point, I also disliked the men in my life. I didn't care about losing weight if it kept the men away. Then, at 55 I realized that I didn't have to carry around 200 pounds of fat to keep bad men away--I could simply reject that negative attention. Now I'm working on the new self image. Report
Great blog!

I also started loving my body more when I got a tattoo I had been wanting to get for so long. It's on my side and I had wanted to wait until I lost weight, looked trimmer, and was just skinnier overall because I thought it would look better. This was not enough of a motivator for me, though. I finally bit the bullet and got the tattoo. . .looking at it and wanting to show it to people (which makes me lift my shirt and expose one of my chubby areas) motivates me in my weight-loss journey because it's a part of my body that I always want to look at and I want it to look good. I take care of it the best and in turn I want to take care of the rest of my body.

Tattoos aren't for everybody. . .but they do serve as permanent positive visual cues and allow us to love at least one part of our body. So if anyone's thinking of getting one but putting it off until they lose that next 20 or 30 lbs. . .why wait? It might just help motivate you to the end of your weight-loss journey and to maintaining your goal weight! Report
Wow! Very insightful. Indygirl, you have a lot of soul. Report
I think it's so terrible that anyone's family would treat them that way. They're the ones who are supposed to love and accept you unconditionally. My mom has struggled with her weight for many years, and I know she doesn't want to see me having the same problems. She's made little comments over the years, but nothing purposely hurtful. We've had a very rough relationship, but now she and I are in this together... she's doing it her way, and I mine, but for the first time we're both seeing success. Report
Thank you for your great article. Once upon a time, my best friend was a bag of chips! Now, between TOPS and Sparks, I have worked on my weight loss, losing from my 224 lbs. to about 180 todate. Now, at the age of 75, if I had a magic iron, to get rid of all of these wrinkles...well, that would be another story...LOL Report
Thanks for are an inspiration! Report
My blog post today was inspired in part by a photo that is now my profile pic -- look who's in my mirror NOW! :)

Thank you for reminding us that who we are is so much more than what the mirror or the toxic people in our lives might lead us to believe. Report
I think sometimes those around us think they're saying those hurtful things believing they're doing it for our best/out of love. But often times, I think it actually comes out of their own hurt & own misplaced body image. I try to be compassionate about that, but it is hard when it hurts and compounds the hurts I inflict on myself by my self loathing.

Something I've been reminding myself the past couple months is that my body is the temple of my soul, the where God lives in me. If I can't do it for myself yet, I'd sure love to make my "temple" as beautiful as possible for my God (although He probably already considers it beautiful, as is).

Much as I hate still being so heavy in my 40's, I do really prefer my 40's to any other decade so far. It is a time when we learn to let go of what we no longer need to carry, relax, accept ourselves & hopefully learn self compassion & forgiveness.

Thanks for a great, thought-provoking blog. Report
Nice Blogs....well, I really agree to the tips:-) Report