5 Things Losing My Grandma Taught Me About Body Image and Self Love
1. Life isn’t about being thin.
This life is about appreciating who we are, being present with who we love, and serving the world with what we love. Body type, weight, specific diets, exercise routines… these aren’t what we were created to focus on. The “perfect body” can’t give us love the way a grandmother can, and focusing on achieving it led me to take that love for granted. I spent years obsessing about what I was going to eat and when, how I looked in a certain pair of shorts, and lamenting over the fact that I ate two Christmas cookies instead of the one I had given myself permission to eat. I wasted time caring about something that wasn’t supposed to hold a great significance in my life – paying attention to the people around me was.
2. Counting calories isn’t worth it.
Sometimes the best conversations, the fondest memories, those moments you want to relive over and over… they involve food. They involve telling stories over the meal your grandma made that used to be your favorite or drinking hot chocolate on Christmas Eve in a full house of people you adore. In the years before my grandma’s death, the holidays caused me so much anxiety that I couldn’t really enjoy them anymore. The food I used to love became calories I hated, and my mind was always preoccupied with an argument between my eating disorder and I about whether I should eat a piece of pumpkin pie or not. It wasn’t worth missing out on moments and conversations that could have brought me so much happiness and feelings of gratitude if I had only let them.
3. The people who love you don’t care about your size.
I used to always assume people thought the worst of me – too big, too small, too quiet, too everything. It’s one thing to think this of strangers, but my critically low self-esteem led me to think this of my beloved family members as well. This led me to avoid them any time I had gained any amount of weight because I didn’t want them to think differently of me. I would give anything to go back in time and shake the truth into that version of myself – they loved me just as much when I was x number of pounds as they did when I was several pounds more than that and vice versa. Their love was not dependent on my weight. It stood alone.
4. Accept compliments. They lead to self love.
Each time someone said something good about me, I always perceived it to be some kind of sneaky form of criticism. If someone told me I had pretty eyes, I would find some way to read it as an attack on my body. My grandma was never modest with the number of compliments she gave me, and I now realize how she meant them more than I could possibly understand. There is no reason for people to continuously give you compliments unless they mean them. People think you’re amazing. Believe them! Eventually you’ll start thinking the same of yourself too. (Hi, self love!)
5. Spend time with people who make you feel safe and loved.
Go out to dinner with your family or that group of friends you love being around. I used to formulate these crazy ideas that my family members would judge me every time they saw me even though they had given me no reason to do so. Looking back, I wish I could go to all of those dinners I missed out on because I know I would have felt so much love if I had shown up. Don’t avoid those things that could make you feel so loved (and helped you on your journey to self love) if you allowed them to.
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