Last night I went out to dinner with a group of girlfriends. Whenever we're eating and we're together, body image finds its way into the conversation. Someone's always trying a new diet, cutting out a new food group, trying a new workout via Class Pass — we're always unintentionally creating focus groups for body hacks. That's right, body hacks. We're always subconsciously trying to find ways to change our bodies, to find out what other people are doing to their bodies and how it's working. We're obsessed with how we look and how other people look and have no idea that the obsession is really an indicator of insecurity and a lack of acceptance.
There's a fine line between putting energy into the maintaining your body and putting energy into trying to change your body. Even the most confident of women seem to be always at work, striving to improve. With other women my age, I notice that there's always a catch: "I love this, but I need to work on this," or, "I hate this, but this is OK." Is it that we're afraid to accept ourselves or that our standard of beauty and concept of what's OK to accept is an ever stretching concept? Constantly moving up and away from our grasp.
After a few glasses of wine, we often wander into future territory: "How will I teach my daughter to love her body?" The answer we concluded with, three bottles in, was that it's not about teaching with words, it's about showing by example. You can only convince people to be accepting of themselves by being accepting of yourself. So how do you know if you're being a good teacher? Here are a few signs you're not as accepting of your body as you think you are:
You compare yourself to others
You scroll through fashion blogs like how you push a cart down a grocery aisle. You'll take Blake Lively's hair (it's shiner than yours), Dascha Polanco's body (it's curvier than yours), Jessica Simpson's legs (they're more toned than yours), Kylie Jenner's lips (they're much fuller than yours). Instead of appreciating what you have, you fixate on what you don't.
You put down others based on their physical appearance
You're always aware of how the people around you look and you're most likely critiquing them. It's all too easy for you to decide that you don't like someone because of the way they look.
You're constantly working towards change
There's always a new goal, and once you reach it, it's never satisfying. First you wanted to shed some weight, then you wanted to gain it, then you wanted to get toned, then you wanted to run a marathon, and once you crossed that finish line you already had your next goal in mind. You don't take the time to appreciate or love your body as it is, or the amazing things it is capable of doing.
You hate bikini season
The mix of being surrounded by seemingly confident people and drowning in your own insecurities makes summer intolerable. You hate it so much you've convinced yourself that you don't ever want to wear a bikini, or any kind of bathing suit — you're a fall girl.
You prefer sex in the dark for reasons that don't have to do with romance or mood
It's hard for you to get or stay in the mood when your body is on display. You're uncomfortable getting intimate with someone unless the room is completely dark. The sight of light and eyes on your skin is not sexy — it's terrifying.
You're deeply affected by the negative opinion of others
Ninety-nine people could tell you that you look amazing, and that one person who says something negative will hold all the power. You're always looking for affirmation that you're not worthy of compliments. It's easy for you to believe that people who do compliment you are just being polite, they don't really mean it.