My body positivity journey started by simply comparing myself to a dog!
By now we know that physically comparing ourselves to anyone else is an exercise in futility. Yet, we do it all the time while knowing it can lead us to harmful behaviors, negative self-thought, unhealthy competition with other women, depression, jealousy and more.
I was finally able to stop that harmful comparison and gain self-acceptance of this body that is 100% uniquely mine, by comparing myself to a dog.
Yes, a DOG
You can stop rubbing your eyes, you read that right! Normally, when women are compared to a dog it’s NOT meant as a compliment. I should know. There was a particular boy named Vincent, who rode the school bus with me most of my scholastic career (la-tee-dah… “career”). One day Vincent decided to dub me a “dog”. You’d hope this was an elementary or even a middle school childhood ignorance of social etiquette, but no. HIGH SCHOOL!
Yes, I was the pathetic, uncool girl with no car like Jeannie Bueller, who rode the bus all the way through high school. However, I don’t think even that should have warranted the mean-spirited moniker. I mean, I was sporting some serious “shaggy dog” (a.k.a. Dorothy Hamill) hair, but STILL. I wasn’t scarred for life but those kind of little statements, made in complete ignorance by a boy having a bad day, lay a precarious shard on the already fragile facade that is a young girl’s self esteem. My parents told me he probably really just liked me (you know they have to say that – it’s in the handbook).
Fast forward some 30 odd years and I am a 51-year-old woman who started a pretty big body positive, attitude transformation by yet another little statement that involved a dog comparison.
Words to Chew On
I have been a manicurist nearly 20 years. Interestingly enough, when you spend time holding hands with and listening to anyone share their life stories and trials with you over and over again, you can often hear their problems, insecurities and sometimes even the “answers” to their conundrums long before they themselves ever get to that part of their journey.
These women have also heard my own stories of life and tribulation, and have heard my obsessive concerns about losing weight. They most likely knew that I was an obsessed diet addict before I ever had a clue. They were probably growing weary of the inordinate amount of time and breath I wasted obsessing over my body and weight.
Enter Marilyn, a “life seasoned” client, who is a retired pastor’s wife and kindergarten teacher. She’s a tiny thing in both height and girth and has a sweet yet structured way about her as you might expect of a veteran kindergarten teacher. To be honest I can’t even remember what the gist of our particular conversation was that day, but Marilyn interjected this little nugget of a thought that she had once heard someone else say and it CHANGED MY LIFE!
“Wouldn’t it be sad if a Doberman spent its entire life trying to be a Poodle?”
That’s it! I wasn’t blown backwards in my chair. There were no fireworks. No – “Oh my stars, my life will never be the same!” But that seed was planted in my mind and there it started to sink in. The deeper it seeped, the more I began to feel sorry for the Doberman. The longer the idea brewed, I could see the futility in wanting a body that may not be in my cards. I started to see myself as the Doberman!
I had been spinning my wheels the last few years trying to attain or “re-attain” a body that may not be ideal for me in this season of life. Or ever for that matter. Every attempt that didn’t end with the result I saw in my mind, screamed “failure” to me and was chipping away at my self esteem.
I had to start seeing myself as I really am and be okay with it. More than okay…. I had to embrace it! Thin, thick, big or small, I am essentially the same ME! Comparing myself to a Doberman or German Shepard or any breed in particular helped me OWN my body!
Then, being the over thinker that I am, I took the analogy just a bit further.
Grace to Grow On
When a dog is a puppy, they are just too cute for words. Like human babies they begin to grow into their full-grown bodies. I’m not an animal person and have no pets, but I have seen dogs mature, and once that dog reaches it’s peak they’re are not done maturing and changing.
It may not be as pronounced as with humans, but a “life seasoned” animal continues to show signs of aging. There is less luster to her coat, things begin to sag and get paunchy and a slowing begins. This is a creature who gives no thought to their physical appearance other than the necessary undercarriage “preening”, but simply lives as a friend and companion. Why then would we expect to stop changing after we’ve reached our peak physical condition? Why do I expect to be able to reach a body expectation of my much younger self? Much less the body of someone else?
Oh now, don’t get all, “You’ve given up!” on me, because I haven’t. I’ve just given myself grace. Grace to stay a Doberman without the distraction of trying to get down to poodle weight or even a Dalmatian’s physique. Grace to work on other aspects of my life that need attending to, like a good nights sleep. Grace to frolic and play, or just lay in the sun and watch the younger pups do it. Grace to be the best friend and companion I can be, because the ones I love deserve to have the undistracted, non-preoccupied me in their life.
Comparing Me to ME
To bring this analogy full circle and give it a complete Disney style happy ending, I’ll leave you with this thought:
There are people who will never have any other breed than a insert your favorite here (Pekingese, Chow, German Shepard, Rescue, etc.). The breed that I may think is too ugly or slobbery, too big, small or active for me, may be the very one you will never be without.
I myself will never be tall and lanky like one of my own biological sisters or as athletic as the other. I do not have the genetics to have a six-pack. I can’t have slim calves no matter what I weigh. There are lots more “things” I can’t be. But, there are a lot more that I can be. It takes all kinds my friends.
I am the most friendly, welcoming, straight-haired, European, American, Polish, Irish, Cherokee, Hillbilly Mutt. I will stand up and beg for a Goetze’s Carmel Cream and a Dr. Pepper. I am a funny, loyal and loving ol’ girl with sloped shoulders, wide hind quarters and tendencies toward back fat, sinus headaches and cellulite.
It’s a Journey
My attitude adjustment didn’t occur overnight. In fact, it’s a process. I continue to have to get myself back on track on this body positive journey. I still have days when I get depressed and self-critical. I get startled by the voice in my head that says “failure” or “dropout” when I see someone else’s weight-loss success.
That’s when I have to go back to the question that started it all.
So my dear lassie’s (as in ladies not the Collie) 😉 whether you struggle with needing more body positivity or you just think way too much about your shape or size. Chew on this:
“What if a Great Dane spent her entire life trying to be Chihuahua?”
Give yourself grace to be happy being YOU. It’s too sad to think of you wanting to be anything else.
Hey! Do you ladies follow The Body Image Movement? I highly encourage you to look into it. Taryn is kickin’ tires and lightin’ fires in her body positivity campaign. She offers some great online videos and resources that will encourage your own journey to body acceptance.
She even made a documentary called, Embrace that I still NEED to see!
The Body Image Movement’s tag line is “I Have Embraced”. Do whatever you can to embrace YOUR own body. Stop wasting time fretting or worrying over those bits of us that wobble and move and just LIVE!
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