Society today seems to damn us into a cycle of self loathing and criticism that can cause us to find ourselves unattractive, undesirable, and ultimately— unmotivated to love our bodies and express physical and emotional love with others.
As your average person growing up in Western society, I am not immune to the body shaming we have in today’s culture. Constantly being criticized for not having enough “curves,” because as most of us know, it goes both ways. You can be too fat, you can be too skinny, your boobs can be disproportionate, your ass can look ridiculous proportionately to your body, and every other mess of criticism in between.
We hold our magazines up and we see women photoshopped to perfection, skin tanned through an editing program, with their breast size increased and waist size reduced. It makes one feel as though they are sexually undesirable. So, instead of pursuing the love we deserve, or at least letting it into our hearts, we continue to flip through magazines staring at these ‘perfected’ celebrities and anonymous figures in editorial shots. This is the society we are intrenched in and learning to break through the mold is a difficult challenge, but not an impossible one. The mold must be broken internally, meaning you must be able to desire yourself, make love to yourself, see yourself as the beautiful being you are, before you open up to another.
Breaking through my own personal self loathing was through the first time I experienced figure modeling. I went to an art class, volunteered as a nude model, and was prepared to expose everything for people who saw my body, and all bodies, as what they should be seen as by all people. A living canvas full of unique curves, lines, and beauty. It was bold. I was overwhelmingly nervous and almost called out sick the day of; however, my inner yogi reminded me I would be letting people down and taking away from the education and experience of students.
So I showed up, completely shy and taken aback. I was instructed to change, internally thinking why wouldn’t you just say take your clothes off, I’m technically not changing into anything. After I stripped out of my skivvies I was on top of the platform and felt immediately freed. Nobody in the room was staring at my body as though it was flawed and imperfect as I had imagined. They began to draw me in all different ways with different mediums. After around an hour I was allowed to walk around and see the creations that some had come up with.
This was the truly enlightening moment. The realization came to me that society had morphed me into thinking about myself as a sexually undesirable creature. Even being with myself had seemed shameful to me. I couldn’t allow myself to express myself fully and sexually alone because the images of the perfected bodies in the media would overrun me, making myself seem inferior. But, in that moment, walking around the room, completely exposed, seeing and experiencing how others saw me, I felt completely free and beautiful.
Overcoming these boundaries is what helps us find the love, passion, and beauty within ourselves. We are so fearful to put ourselves out there, to allow ourselves to be freed from this stereotype of beauty that we melt back into our shells. It’s very hard to overcome. I was skeptical of exposing myself. However, after I did so I felt a completely new light around myself, mentally and physically. As a society we need to learn to free our bodies. The Dove campaigns and American Eagles unfiltered models won’t help. We are all unique and all beautiful in our own way. All we need to do is step out of our comfort zone to realize it.