I Love You And I Like You: The Ebbs And Flows Of Body Image

I Love You And I Like You: The Ebbs And Flows Of Body Image

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Quick poll: who has ever been frustrated with someone they love?

::raises hand::

Think about your lasting, enduring relationships. They can be with friends, family members, or significant others. There are definitely times you don’t like them, like what they have to say, or like what they’re doing. That’s life. 

With vulnerability and intimacy comes the universal truth that we don’t always like what we see. Because that’s what a real relationship does: it creates a safe space to explore what we like and don’t like so we can learn more about ourselves and move forward on our own journey.

So why should it be ANY different with our bodies?

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Yeah, the ideal is to love it and like it. But as with the nature of any relationship, that’s not always the case.

 

What holds us back from true body love – and, therefore, self-love – is this idea that we are supposed to LIKE our body 100% of the time.


But chances are, if you’re a living, breathing human being, that’s just not going to be the case. Like, ever.

What ends up happening is that we confuse LIKING our body with LOVING our body, insinuating that what we don’t LIKE in the moment must be an indication that we don’t LOVE ourselves fully and completely.

Since the word “love,” like the h-word and the f-word, is an emotionally heavy word, it’s what both the media and everyday people use the most often. It’s easy to cling onto. It’s easy to empathize with. There’s a lot more tied to the word love, so it’s become our natural default – making us all believe that we can only love or loathe ourselves. The “love” language we use toward our bodies basically assumes the role of “like” language as well. 

In reality, it’s so much more complex than that. To say we like or don’t “like” something usually begs for more justification, especially if you’re a solution-oriented person (like you probably are if you’re reading this). It requires us to actually think and hone in instead of rest on a general feeling/emotion. “Like” has more nuance to it. What do you like or not like? Why “like” and not “love?” If you don’t like something, then what do you like?

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Real talk: I don’t like my body all day, every day. Let me tell you, when I’m in the first 24 hours of my period and it feels like my whole lower half has started its own Fight Club, I do not like the way my body feels. When I’ve had a few too many drinks or a little too much processed food and my organs are responding with superpowered inflammation, I do not like the way my body looks. When I haven’t exercised or done yoga in a while and it would basically take an act of god to get me to even touch my toes, I definitely don’t like the way my body moves around in space.

But none of that – NONE of that – speaks to how I really feel about my body. I love my body despite those things, and I love my body for those things. I love my body for telling me what’s up, for waking me up to parts of myself that need some TLC. Sure we fight sometimes, but my body and I know how to fight fair. We know how to keep respect at the core, use “I feel” instead of “You are” turns of phrase, and we are always, always solution-oriented.

It’s highly unrealistic for us to think we can mantra our way to 24/7 body “like.” Love, maybe. But the idea that disliking our body every now and again is a sin is utter bs. It’s shoving issues under the rug. It’s igorning things that need to be discussed. And if you’ve ever been in a relationship where issues are pushed aside and things are ignored…you KNOW that leads to nowhere good.

When you’re trying to express how you feel on a bad body day, put “like” and “right now” back into your vocabulary. Instead of using the h-word, confront your body on what’s coming up for you in the moment. Play fair, play respectfully, and play to find solutions. Play by reminding your body you love it unconditionally, but right now it’s a little hard to like it.

Seems like such a small, inconsequential shift, but it really makes the world of a difference. Because what “I don’t like when/how you [fill in blank] right now” does is separate WHO your body inherently is from HOW your body is choosing to respond to a given situation in the moment. The love is there. The love will always be there. But right now, it’s a little rough to get on the same page with that one glorious body you love.

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There’s a lot of buzz around the body-positive movement right now, which is phenomenal and something I am so proud to (hopefully) be contributing to. Yet if we only focus on the black-and-whites of love and loathing, we’re missing a whole gray scale in the middle that is desperately seeking attention. Because no matter how deep you have to dig and how without basis it seems on the surface, we never dislike something “just because.” Politics, people, parts of ourselves. Maybe it’s because of deep-seated beliefs or temporary sensations. Maybe it’s because it triggers something unrelated. Or maybe, it’s just because we know we can do better. We never dislike without good reason, whether we want to admit it or not.

Fight for what you ultimately love, not against what you temporarily loathe. Click To Tweet

Recognizing what you love and what you’re fighting for is the first step toward any real, lasting change. And part of that means pinpointing those small-but-sometimes-huge things that can be better. It’s all in the language you use: Hate breeds hate, fear breeds fear. The sometimes becomes the always, and the reactions become deafening battle cries. But working on those things you don’t like in the midst of unconditional love is the essence of being proactive, not reactive. You’re fighting for what you ultimately love, not against what you temporarily loathe.

It’s okay to not like everything all the time. I’d even go so far as to say it’s healthy to not like everything all the time. Because even though things sometimes get rough and we don’t agree all the time, our body always wants to kiss and make up. It always wants you to listen. We just can’t be too stubborn to shut it out.

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WANT YOURSELF:
Do you relate? Do you find yourself saying the dreaded h-word when what you really mean is you don’t “like X right now?” Tell me below. What’s something you can “fight fair” with your body on next time you’re feeling less-than-stellar? Or on the flipside, what do you love AND like about your body today, in this very second?

photo credit: Vulture

The WANT Women: Gigi Yogini On Self Respect, Dress Size, and Being Unstoppable

The WANT Women: Gigi Yogini On Self Respect, Dress Size, and Being Unstoppable

Body WANT Women

You deserve to be loved – and the best time to start is now. -@gigiyogini Click To Tweet

Yoga culture: let’s go there. Sure, yoga is a phenomenal way to get back in touch with your body or cultivate self love that lasts. Rolling out your mat, whether at home or in your favorite studio, can be like a homecoming. Emphasis on can.

I’ve been practicing yoga for over a decade, and in the last couple of years , I’ve watched it morph from a perceivably hippie-dippie ritual to a full-blown pop culture trend. And let me be clear – that is not an inherently bad thing. Yoga for all, I say! The more yogi-minded folks in this world, the better.

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However. Just like with other fitness classes and healthy food catchphrases, yoga has become a form of social clout, a way to prove a point or achieve Insta-star status. No truly honest conversation about yoga is complete without addressing the elephant in the room – the plethora of picture-perfect poses on social media and “power”-driven classes that can do more to intimidate than inspire. I’ve written about it before and I’m sure I’ll write about it again: if an “advanced practice” is all about the external display, it not only diminishes the real power of yoga – the internal work – but it can activate those negative voices in your head that say things like “You can’t do that class. You’re not strong enough. Fit enough. You don’t have a yoga body.”

Brigitte Kouba, better known as Gigi Yogini, is working to change all that.

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As one of yoga’s biggest body image advocates and body-positive pioneers, Gigi inspires people (especially women!) of every age, shape, size, and look to love their bodies exactly as they are.

Gigi is the woman behind YOGAudacious, a blog that diversifies the faces of yoga and shows what courage looks like from the inside out, as well as a co-founder the Yoga Body Image Coalition, an action-oriented community advocating the Body Positive cause. No body shaming or stereotype-filling allowed: she’s determined to create safe spaces for all body types and backgrounds to be their most courageous selves. Just try this video on for size:

All that bod-pos talk isn’t just lip service, either – she practices what she preaches, and infuses everything she does (from producing the video above to her writing on sites like MindBodyGreen and Elephant Journal) with a little more compassion and encouragement than it would normally have. Thankfully for us, Gigi’s in the process of building out her Secret Studio in Los Angeles, a safe haven she’s kept hush-hush for over three years (ps. it’s not so secret anymore). She’s now bringing other all-inclusive teachers and workshop leaders into the mix and keeping it by women, for women. You read that right: finally, a yoga studio that feeds our hunger for supportive, powerful female connection.

Gigi is a breath of fresh ocean air in the midst of mixed messages telling us what a “yoga body” should look like. She is badass. She is a force. She is making the yoga world a kinder place – and is the epitome of a WANT Woman, on and off the mat.

WANT Gigi.

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Name: Brigitte Kouba


How you’d know me (occupation or role): I’m a yoga teacher, better known as Gigi Yogini, who shares lots of posts, articles and videos about body positivity.


What I love about myself (and why): I love the fact that my imagination is wild and I have the audacity to chase my dreams…no matter how crazy they may seem.


What is your definition of “positivity?” Finding a way to weave gratitude into everything.


When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” I’ve had reoccurring awakenings all the time. Sometimes I get into a rut and then do something good for myself (like yoga, dance or take a bubble bath) and think to myself, “Oh yeah. This is what it feels like to love myself.”


How/where negative talk shows up in my life: Negative talk creeps into my life on the shoulders of regret and the underbelly of expectations.


When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually…a result of following fear down a rabbit hole.


When others talk negatively about themselves…I realize how natural it is for all of us to speak unkindly about ourselves.


It baffles me that women still…try to fit into a narrow stereotype of beauty. I’ve found that self-respect and confidence are by far the most attractive qualities a woman can posses, regardless of dress size.


I wish that more women…could embrace what makes them unique and support each other rather than compete.
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The coolest thing about women is…our ability to manifest the miracle of life within our bodies. Even if women never have a child, they still have a magical power to manifest miracles in life.


My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: is to stop, breathe deeply and repeat an affirmation.


My top female role models: First and foremost, my mom, Patricia Kouba, is a great role model. Also Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Tina Fey, Tyra Banks, Ellen Degeneres, Amy Purdy, and Kia Miller. Historically, Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, Lucille Ball, Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, Susan B. Anthony, and Mother Teresa. I’m also inspired by any woman who has given birth, survived breast cancer, gotten out of an abusive relationship or cared for an aging parent or sick child. Every woman has the potential for being a positive role model. -@gigiyogini Click To Tweet


Men can help women crush their negative talk patterns by…complimenting women on non-physical qualities like intelligence, courage, strength, compassion, etc.


Favorite negativity-busting activity: spending quality time, laughing and goofing off with loved ones.


Fave self-love ritual: bubble bath with candles.


Favorite feel-good food(s): I always feel good when I eat quinoa and veggies. I also love banana or sliced apple with almond butter. Plus I adore dark chocolate because just a little is enough.


Favorite movie(s) to watch when I’m feeling down: Comedies or uplifting documentaries.


Favorite empowering book(s):
Autobiography of a Yogi – Paramahansa Yogananda
The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
The Cure – Dr. Timothy Brantley
The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell
7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
Way of the Peaceful Warrior – Dan Millman


My feel-good playlist: includes anything that makes me want to move…because moving feels good!

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Advice I would give my…
…4 year old self: play more
…14 year-old self: breathe more
…24 year old self: dream more


5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list:
Raise a healthy family with my soon-to-be husband, Antonio Neves.
Build a Habitat for Humanity home.
Go on a silent retreat.
Bike across New Zealand.
Quit my coffee addiction.


My best tip on self love: You deserve to be loved – and the best time to start is now.


When I truly love all of myself…I am unstoppable.


Right now, I am most excited about…marrying the love of my life this summer.


My body is: brilliant and I am so grateful for all it does.


Three words to describe me: Curious, Compassionate, Authentic


Current mantra: I am grateful for all the growth opportunities in my life. I am Divinely guided and protected. I trust all things are happening for the greatest good of all.

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WANT Yourself:
In the comments, tell us what part of Gigi’s words of wisdom struck a chord with you (there were a lot of good ones!). What’s one thing you can do to show yourself love today?

Photo credit: Corinna Lander



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