At the most superficial level, when I look in the mirror I see the aging process at work. As I gaze at my 51yo self, I see decades worth of reflections flash before me; each era staring back as a reminder of what’s shaped me.
I see… the negative voices from my childhood about my appearance that cultivated my own negative self-talk… being a dark-skinned Black girl in a predominantly White town with a love of Classical ballet where no one looked like me either… the world around me as a reminder that I don’t fit into society’s Eurocentric standards of beauty but desperately wanting to feel pretty… feeling trapped in a high-control religion where food was commonly abused as a numbing escape… escaping that life to live my dream in NYC and getting suspended from a dance gig because I’d supposedly gained weight; which forever changed my relationship to mirrors, scales, food and exercise… the 6-pack abs I was proud of despite my over-trained and injured body… retiring from performing, having a less active lifestyle and being peri menopausal; while working in the fitness industry where we’re “supposed” to look aspirational.
Amidst all of the negatives, there are so many positive and affirming reflections too! It’s unfortunate that the negative ones tend to have the greatest psychological impact. Nevertheless, when I look in the mirror I also see a physically and emotionally strong and resilient Black woman that’s defied the negative internal and external voices. I’ve stubbornly chosen to live my life fully anyway.
So when I look in the mirror, I also see someone who is vulnerable, compassionate and supportive because my own life experiences have taught me that you never know what someone else is going through. And so I try to continually show grace and understanding to both myself and others.
S.I.T. With Yourself in April
This month’s #soakedinthought journaling prompts are dedicated to body confidence and fitness as a lifestyle. As we move into Spring and the fitness industry ramps up its messaging about getting “in shape” for Summer, I hope you’ll sit with yourself to figure out what your body, mind, and spirit need to feel healthy, fit, and happy – without all the external voices.