Midlife can bring along with it some unexpected (and often unwelcome) bodily changes. How do we respond with self-compassion and stay acquainted with ourselves – rather than becoming alienated from our physical selves? And are we all suffering from a collective, self-directed body dysmorphia?
I addressed these topics in two Instagram posts this week – one on the complicated reality of being “midsize”, and another about staying acquainted with our midlife bodies and faces – and today discussed both the positive reaction and pushback I received and why I think this is an important conversation to keep having.
I also offered some thoughts about how to stay in relationship with our bodies as we age:
- Let’s try to focus on how our bodies function and feel, instead of how they look. A bout with neck and shoulder pain over the summer reminded me that there are far more important things to my daily existence than how I look in a dress, and that letting vanity and ego rule – whether in front of the mirror or on the yoga mat – ultimately doesn’t serve me or the goals I have for this one precious life.
- Let’s put self-compassion front and center. The blunt objects of shame, fear, peer pressure and self-loathing may occasionally spur us into short-lived action, but they rarely create lasting change. Self-compassion is the path to loving ourselves enough to change – for ourselves.
- Let’s aim for small, sustainable changes. Dropping out of my studio’s January yoga challenge that was overwhelming me and triggering ego-driven people-pleasing tendencies, in favor of a simple, just-for-me home practice, and asking my Future Fitness trainer to create short, daily workouts rather than longer, less-frequent ones has helped me reach my goal of moving, breathing, and meditating nearly every day.
- Let’s create relationships with our bodies. Relationships with our bodies can be complicated, just like they are with other people. But when we stop yelling at our bodies, stop trying to force them to comply or perform on demand, and stop avoiding them, we create space to listen to what they are telling us.
- “The Mean Life of a Midsize Model”, by Elizabeth Paton for the New York Times
- The Curious Tale of the Midsize Queen, by Virginia Sole-Smith for her Burnt Toast newsletter
- Body Image In Motherhood & Midlife – The Mom Hour Podcast (h/t to Sarah Powers for the “have a relationship with your body” idea sparked by this discussion!)
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