I love this sentiment, though it comes late in my life. And even if it had of been an earlier revelation I might not have understood.
Like millions of women, I have been the victim of popular media’s sexed up interpretation of a woman’s body; a shallow representation clearly devoid of anything deeper than the young, tanned, ripped, frail skin it is so obsessed with. I have spent years walking around feeling less than happy with my soft belly, my dimpled thighs, my blemished skin. I have been influenced by the notion that to be desired is to be perfect, and that to be desired means to be ‘important’. It is a bitterly disappointing place to be anchored as a woman, governed by negative emotions and deprecating self-talk, and driven by guilt and sadness. An irony when we are told that to be beautiful is to be powerful. The dis-honour shown to women by fashion, sports and beauty media corporations is anything but empowering, it is a self-perpetuating cycle of unattainable perfection.
But mostly it is an ideal that is empty. It doesn’t celebrate our story, our glory and uniqueness.
I have been painfully thin as a result of stress and anxiety, I have run my legs into a state of exhaustion and once I almost (almost) had abs. And though I love to feel fit and strong, it is no replacement for being an authentic woman; for gathering up all the things that create my story, like my voice, my imperfections, and the air my lungs own in this lifetime.
Our emotional well-being is paramount to our health as women and mothers. It maps the tiniest of decisions and choices we make throughout the day to nurture our Selves. We do this subconsciously in the automatic things we do like snack, smoke, drink or disengage; or the conscious choices we make around what to eat for lunch, signing up to the gym or simply brushing your hair for the first time that week. An effective way to become conscious of your well-being is to be accountable for those choices, and to do that women must learn to listen to their intuition. Because a woman who owns her place on the planet, who can roar against the cage that threatens her, and who raises her children to be fierce and free is an empowered and beautiful woman. She may not be standing in front of the mirror at the gym in hot-pants with big boobs, and if she is, she is the sum of many more things.
As a mother, getting to the gym involves more than self-motivation. I have to coerce my reluctant son to join the crèche. I have to pack snacks for him and drop my other son off at school on the way. I am usually in long gym pants and a pyjama shirt from the night before having probably burned 200 calories in just arriving at the front door. And looking around I realise that I’m a true advertisement for womanhood and motherhood like the many other women there too, not necessarily the ‘women’ on the posters, who only serve to make me feel old, flabby, and guilty.
When we move into a space that honours our story we are better able to honour our body and spirit too. We become visible and with that comes the recognition of our whole story, and the importance of where we are in that moment. We can then choose to nourish and nurture with the purpose of healing and forgiving the parts of us we haven’t honoured for so long. It is a home-coming of sorts. A journey back within the heart, and it matters. I see it as a rite of passage – a deliberate yearning of the female consciousness.
This is why I love ‘Your Body, Your Rules’ because it is an act of self-love. It instantly releases the guilt associated with not being ‘perfect’ using somebody else’s standards. It empowers women to breathe the air into their lungs that they own in this lifetime. To be visible and accountable. It gives permission for women (and not media corporations) to make the rules for themselves on a day to day basis. Which is sometimes how we exist: Day-to-Day.
Build a simple foundation of grass-roots well-being, and from here your journey of honour begins.
Create time to rest. Not on the couch for 5 minutes catching the news headlines but resting in a way to regenerate your cells. This might be sitting in the sun with your feet touching the ground during a lunch break, or having a 10 minute lie-down before the kids prepare for bed. Create a space and time to do this, often.
Hydrate. Now surely by now this need not be said, but too many people (women especially) are too busy telling their off-spring to drink water that they forget to do so themselves. Consuming clean filtered drinking water promotes healthy cellular function (and it is an inexpensive way to make your skin appear plump and refreshed).
Do things for your spirit. Find that creative niche you once had. Rediscover and explore the things that light your fire. If you feel like you have no fire left, recall the things that you love but never ‘have time for’ anymore. Choose kindness. Run a bath for yourself and light that damn candle your bought 2 years ago and then put a few drops of lavender in the water as an act of honouring your body and soul.
Move your body. Create a relationship with your physical self, stretch, move, challenge your self and breathe deeply.
Eat good food. Make choices based on nourishing your body and stimulating your cells. Ask your plate “what are you going to do for me?”. Connect with your senses as you eat, digestion starts well before food touches your lips and these subtle processes are important to the health of your digestive system.
Your story matters. Your life matters. You are a biological miracle. So be it….
Melanie Robinson is a Naturopath, earth-mother to 2 boys, magazine contributor and presenter of FOOD AS MEDICINE at this years IGNITE LIVE event in Melbourne, Sydney & Brisbane. She specialises in nutrition, natural health, and the powerful emotional well-being of women.