I'm Sick of Waiting to Love How I Look

positive body image - self loveA few months ago, a friend shared a photo of us together from eight years ago. We were each holding our infants. Of course, we look sleep-deprived, but we also look happy. Beyond that, and compared to now (speaking for myself, at least), we look fantastic.

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But we didn't appreciate it at the time.

In fact, seconds after it was taken, I remember we lamented, "Look at those dark circles under our eyes!" and "Will we never lose this baby weight!?" Sadly, I was probably in better shape then than I am today. So, what's the point of all this?

It occurs to me more and more frequently -- when I go through an old photo album, or when Facebook decides to cough up a visual memory -- that rarely do we appreciate ourselves in the moment. It is only in retrospect that we allow for the "Huh, I didn't look so bad back then!"

Instead of reveling in my unlined forehead a decade ago, I was worrying about emerging spider veins and if I'd ever see my abs again. Now, naturally, those are the least of my worries as I watch my hands slowly turn into those of my grandmother.

I often think of an episode of My So-Called Life that really resonated with me even though I only saw it once. For those of you unfamiliar with the cult classic coming-of-age TV show, Claire Danes is Angela, a lovely but awkward teen who looks at a picture of her mom, Patty, played by the stunning Bess Armstrong. Angela tells her mom how beautiful she looked in that photo, and Patty sighs, replying that she never thought so at the time.

Even though she's trying to tell her daughter that she'd been in her shoes and wants her daughter to learn from her experience and love herself in the present, you can tell the teen isn't buying it. 

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I wish I could say I have the secret to stopping that negative self-talk that seems almost second nature to us. We've all read those recommendations that suggest we speak to ourselves the way we would to a friend. It sounds good in theory, but it can require a major shift in our way of thinking.

What I'm trying to do is remember how I feel each time I see an old photo. Then, I'll say to myself, "Remember you thought you looked like a troll there, but really, you had the legs of Beyonce back then!"

I'm not trying to say "It's all downhill from here," because anyone is capable of undergoing a transformation at any time. But it's important to love ourselves in the moment -- not 8 or 10 pounds from now. Appreciate yourself today; don't wait. Though that might sound like the start of an infomercial, I'm being sincere. A decade from now you will look back and think, "Wow, I wish I had been more confident, because I had every right to be."

Challenge yourself to look again, and find at least two things you like about your current reflection. Because, trust me, years from now you will find it flawless.

 

Image via goranbogicevic/Shutterstock

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