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Hiding in shame

My Body Shame Discovery

Reflecting on my post about Facing My Fears of Social Rejection, I surprisingly find myself way more focused on – almost obsessed with – how I look on the video. I’m almost completely ignoring the music. This is new awareness for me – I really didn’t know I’m so body self-conscious.

How did I get to the age of forty-five and not realise how much shame I’m carrying about my body? One explanation could be that over the last eleven years since I became a parent I have erased myself in such a way that I don’t even know I have a body. I do remember times, in my more athletic days, when I was quite proud of it. I was proud of being thin and athletic, because in my conditioning, thin meant acceptable. Smooth skin without wrinkles meant acceptable. Eleven years on, I find myself with wrinkles and extra body fat, and suddenly I feel shame about how I look, shame about the changes that have come with ageing, because ageing means unacceptable, which is a painful admission of my conditioned thinking.

My first impulse is to lose weight, get fit, wear more “appealing” clothes, get a hairstyle, oh…  and how the hell do I get rid of these wrinkles? 

My second impulse is to say “F**k this! I’m not submitting to the pressure of advertising and its warped image of beauty.”

My third impulse is to try to just continue to ignore my body… but… that can of worms is now open and no longer ignorable.

Although this may on the surface appear to be only about social acceptance based on appearance, on a deeper level I have to admit that this is also connected to me as a sexual being. That’s another can of worms to be opened and I don’t think that I’m ready yet to explore this publicly!

I’m curious about where this shame comes from. I suspect the scene was set in my formative years, consequently affecting my present day reactions to the ever increasing external pressures from trends and marketing. I’m wondering if, on top of these external pressures, there is also an element of an absence of something. Was it the absence of women around me who felt good about their bodies? Was it the absence of women with a strong sense of their feminine power? Maybe it was the shielding from exposure to nudity or anything sexual that created a shameful reaction to my body and beauty. 

I feel rather naive and way behind with the times. I would love to find ways to feel more comfortable with myself, maybe I’ll discover something in future that might even help others too. I know I’m not alone in exploring this.

So, where are you with your body image? Do you avoid mirrors? (I do) Or can you not leave the house without your hair and make-up done? (I can barely do hair and make-up) Do you worry about what other people think of how you look? Does it limit your choices in other areas of your life?

What if there were no mirrors or cameras to see ourselves in and we were reflected only through the eyes of others? Maybe self-image wouldn’t exist, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Maybe Snow White’s stepmother had a point when she banned all the mirrors in the land. The worms in the can continue to wriggle…

Or comment below to give feedback or thoughts of yours

After writing this post I found this Ted Talk which is highly relevant. Deepa Narayan is talking about Indian culture which I didn’t grow up in and yet I find that I too experience what she’s talking about.

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