Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day 139 - 3 *New* Things I Love About Myself

A few days ago a reader named Amber P. left a comment I found very inspiring, both for the story she told and for the questions she asked me to consider.  Here's her comment, and below that is my best attempt to respond as requested.  Thanks Amber!
At a point in my life when I had little to no self esteem what-so-ever, I had a friend tell me to strip down stark naked, and go look at myself in the mirror for at least five minutes. They told me to come back to them and tell them at least ten things that I loved about myself. I haven't done that in a while...and that person is now not only my best friend but my husband. So while I know that you aren't going to look in a mirror for quite some time now... I have a similar question.
What are a few things that you love about yourself, that you wouldn't have realized that you loved about yourself before the start of this project? 
Okay, how amazingly positive is this story?  I love this way of using mirrors for good instead of evil, and I've decided that THIS is the exact exercise that I'm going to do on the first day that this project ends.  I can't think of a better way to transition from no mirrors back to mirrors everywhere.  In the meantime, here's a short list of things for which I have gained a new appreciation since this project started.


1) My hands.  As I mentioned yesterday, I've always liked my hands.  In them, I see both of my parents - small nails from mom, index fingers pointing a bit inward from dad.  Since this project started, my hands have been the body part I see more than any other.  At first my pretty paws bore the brunt of many displaced beautification rituals: I bought new nail polish instead of new makeup every time I popped into CVS, and salon haircuts were replaced by manicures every few weeks.  I'm not sure if these practices were sending me in the "right" direction in terms of decreasing my vanity overall, but they kept me sane.  And it was nice to focus on a body part I felt like showing off, instead of worrying about bits and bobs that feel too bitty or too bobby.  But most recently I fell in love with my hands all over again, by staring at them while I write on my laptop.  With the exception of Mondays and Wednesdays (when I lecture for 4 HOURS each day!) I typically write more than I speak.  In this sense, my hands serve as my voice, and that's pretty awesome.


2) My cheeks (the ones on my face).  They've always been round.  When I was a baby my parents called them bumper pads, since they could break a face-forward fall.  I used to think they were too fat.  Maybe they are.  But they're also really soft.  That's something I didn't notice or think about until this project.  I love my chubby cheeks!


3) Armpits!  Seriously.  I never noticed them before.   Even when shaving I never really looked at my armpits; I just watched to make sure I didn't leave any stubbly stragglers behind.  But I started paying more attention a few weeks ago, when I decided to try a new deodorant.  Okay, not really a new deodorant, but a new scent in the exact same deodorant I've been using religiously for the past 2 years (Powder Fresh Suave Clinical Protection Antiperspirant, which works just as awesomely as the name brand stuff, but cheaper!!).  I'm a lady of rigid routines, so even switching the scent (to "Wild Cherry Blossom") put me on edge.  I applied the new goods, and then thought a lot about my armpits and my deodorant over the next few days.  A few conclusions: 1) my armpits are surprising smooth and well-behaved - no razor burn, no ingrown hairs, no excessive sweat so long as I use my Suave 2) I love both scents of my deodorant an applying them feels like I'm putting on perfume and a luxurious lotion at the same time, and 3) my armpits are kind of pretty. 


So there you have it.  A list of things I love more about myself now than I did before, and which I probably wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't started this project.


But now I'd like to hear from some of you!  Go stare in the mirror for a while, naked or otherwise.  Or maybe spend some time thinking about how your body feels or smells, instead of just how it looks.   What do you love?  


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18 comments:

  1. I love my freckles. I always thought they were pretty. I also really like my collarbone and shoulder area. it's something about the curvature and the strength. not sure really, just always found that part lovely :)

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  2. Greetings my dear Kjerstin -

    This is a fun one. I do not need a mirror for this. Especially do not want to stand naked in front of one to answer any of these questions (uh-oh, that really does seem to indicate there are few things I'd like to change about myself that I am already well aware of) [preposition sentence ending not so good here] ... alternative: ...that I am aware of already (that really isn't any better)...but that was not the question now, was it.

    I LOVE MY HAIR. As I get older it keep changing, but the amount of grey/white doesn't change so much. I used to spend $80+ and sometimes way more to get my hair foiled so that the aging color(s) would not be as visible; then, about 2 years ago I had one of those
    enlightening, ah ha moments, where I asked myself "what the heck am I doing" and it really had nothing to do with being benevolent towards those with the chosen profession of hairstylist.
    So, I just stopped. I went to the store and bought one of those "10-minute root touch up" kits (on sale for less than $5), and I love it just as much as anything for which I shelled out the big bucks!

    I LOVE MY FINGERNAILS. For whatever reason, and it certainly isn't the amount of orange juice or gelatin that I consume, my nails are "tough as nails"...Although I love to have a manicure as much as the next guy, it is a total waste of time and money for me because my nails grow sooo
    fast and no matter how hard I try, any polish efforts are chipping and being outgrown within 24 hours - so why bother? Maybe I'll have Sarah put some nail polish on my fingers for your wedding...that might be fun! Also, my daughter has always given me a hard time about my nail
    polishing efforts because I will go to the store to buy nail polish and when I come home I realize that I just bought another bottle of beige or ivory that is identical to the 3-4 that are already in the drawer!!! At least my taste is consistent.

    I LOVE MY EYELASHES. First of all, I still have them. Second of all, even though I rarely wear mascara, when I do it works great and gives me that long eyelash look that I think is the goal of wearing the stuff in the first place. What's up with the theory that mascara only goes on the upper lashes? That looks totally stupid on me, and I always apply it to top and bottom. Of course, then if I go to a wedding (especially of someone that I truly care about) and the tears start rolling down my face, it is a disaster. Perhaps I should check into some waterproof brand...but then I feel like when I try to remove it it will take my eyelashes off at the same time. So, instead of tear-stained cheeks at your wedding, they may just have to be mascara-laden, tear-stained cheeks! Either way, they will not be as adorable as your 'chubby cheeks' (your words, not mine). You get those adorable cheeks from your Mom, by the way.

    So, those are my few things and that was tons of fun.

    Marilyn

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  3. Hey Kjerstin!

    After reading your post, it reminded me of how my body image has changed since I moved to Asia. Of course, I will never be considered "thin" in South Korea (you're a chubster if you sport anything at or above a size 6). However, two things I struggled with in St. Louis have proved a blessing here: pale skin and curly hair. The former often scores foreigners higher paying English teaching jobs and many compliments. Some of my students' parents have even purchased me expensive skin bleaching sets (in order to maintain my skin tone-they think I work at this).

    As far as the fro acceptance goes, it's nice to hear,"You have pretty hair," as opposed to an Americana,"You've got wild Carrie Bradshaw hair."

    The next few years may surface more than two features. I'm off to teach in Southeast Asia next year (Cambodia or Thailand) and I often wonder how my body image will change. Will I heed local standards, or will I develop the self-image apathy experienced by many Western expats? Which one is better?

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  4. I love knowing that my body grew a healthy little baby. I try too look at my bobby bits as the gold medal of a job well done.

    I try. I try.

    And I find your blog as a good reminder whenever I forget. ;-)

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  5. I love my chest hair, despite the fact that it sometimes traps lint in my belly button. =)

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  6. I'm going to actually make this a full on post on my own blog and hopefully try to get at least one reader and maybe someone else who has a blog to try it as well. I think it's a beautiful activity for us all to try and in a time where it can become difficult to really love ourselves due to numerous outside forces (media, bullying, etc.) it's probably one of the most important. Thank you for you Amanda for having written the comment and you Kjerstin for showing how you don't even need the mirror to be able to do this. :)

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  7. I love how you describe your hands as your voice! I love my shoulders, my direct gaze, and my thick hair.

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  8. I'm glad that you were inspired by me, as I have been inspired by you! You're a great lady! And I don't mind that you accidentally typed my first name wrong, I get called every other name starting with A and I'll answer to it, because chances are they didn't catch it correctly the first time around! xD
    How fun to read this! I'll be catching up day-to-day :)

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  9. Oh, no! Amber, I am really sorry! I feel really bad. I've fixed it. :( People mess up my name all the time, so usually I'm more careful...

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  10. Haha, Kjerstin, it's totally fine. I worked as a waitress for 3 1/2 years so really, I'll answer to *almost* anything :) Don't worry about it!

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  11. Pssst. I also have a blog if you want to check it out! :) It's not much, but it's me! http://craftingmonkey.blogspot.com/

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  12. Well, it's kind of hard to think this way for me. My whole life I've been told that being fat makes you ugly, so ugly that no matter how beautiful any other part of you might be, it doesn't count.

    I like my hair, though. I can almost sit on it now, and it's kind of the color of honey, red-gold-brown-bronze. I've had women tell me they'd kill for my hair. It's thick and wavy and while it gets annoyingly frizzy at times, I still do consider it the 'crowning glory.'

    I have pretty eyes, green and gold, and eyelashes that are so long they rub on my glasses. I never need to wear lipstick and even though I'm clinically obese I have tiny, dainty little wrists (attached to giant, muscled hands that can palm a basketball, which look really weird on a 5'1 female, but I've never had a problem with the octave stretch on a piano, so I actually like my hands).

    I've had people tell me "from the neck up you're almost pretty." In my experience, beauty resides in the face and hotness resides in the body.

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  13. Hey! i just found your blog today and am reading through it to get caught up. This one i had to leave my thoughts on cause i love something that most women despise. i had my son in dec of 2009 and he left me these monstrous stretch marks ( im not a girrly girl and not in to moisturizer) well now every time i look at them or rub my hand over then i get the biggest smile on my face cause it reminds me of the wonderful bond we have. so there you have it I LOVE MY STRECH MARKS!!!!!!!

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  14. The other day I was walking with a friend and feeling bummed because the first 20 minutes or so was time spent talking about weight, ugh. She then swatted a fly from my right shoulder, I was wearing a tank top, and I couldn't help exclaim, "I love the freckles on my shoulder!" It felt so good to talk positively about my body!!

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  15. First off, thank you thank you thank you for this. What an amazingly beautiful thing to do.

    For 22 years I've been called fat, ugly, etc. After a while, it starts to sound true. So after reading this, I looked in the mirror and found...

    My feet. Veiny and big, but pretty nonetheless.
    My collarbone and shoulders. Just dainty and delicate enough.
    My lips. Perfect size and shape top and bottom.
    My eyes. Dark dark brown and BIG!
    My eyebrows. People pay a lot of money to get eyebrows like mine- which I barely need to maintain!
    My hair. Baby fine, stick straight, very uncooperative. Also constantly silky soft, and a beautiful reddish brown.

    Wonderful, brilliant, uplifting exercise!

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  16. THANK YOU!I love this exercise. The thing I love most about myself is my pale skin. All through high school, college, and even last week I've heard from other people that I really need to get a tan. Being that I live on the beach, people assume I should also have the beach body and the bronzed skin to match, which I do not. The last guy I dated before my fiance told me I'd probably get asked out more if I had a tan. Needless to say, he was gone the next day. But I have learned to love my pale skin. My fiance even tells me he loves my ivory color. It's enlightening to see all of these women who may not be viewed as beautiful by society's terms find the beauty in themselves.

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  17. Hello! :)

    I just read through your (very inspiring!) blog about your mirror challenge and this entry here made me stop and think about my own experiences with body-image (my own and from family/friends)

    1.) I have what might be called a voluptous figure for most of my life, and I've had my fair share of comments because of it. I've been told repeatedly to lose weight in order to look more "normal", more like "the others". Some of that pressure would come from my mum who is still fighting off the weight gain after 2 births and who otherwise is a pretty great woman.
    I guess, over the last year, since I started university, I realised that this pressure is unfair. I never fitted in anywhere - or to rephrase it: I've always been a unique character - so instead of trying to look like everybody else, I now try to find what defines "ME" and put the spotlight(s) on those aspects.
    (I do use the university's sports programmes, but mainly to keep fit and have a clear head for my studies)

    To answer your question in your original blog entry, this are my favourite parts of my body:

    a) My eyes. I have always loved my eyes. They are hazel-coloured and striking. As someone said, he loved looking into eyes that are filled with spirit and I guess, mine fall in this category as well...

    b) My behind (buttocks). Big, but firm/muscular and a lovely shape. I definitely prefer my own buttocks over all those skinny nothings you can see everywhere! (Btw, I love the word "buttocks" *g*)

    c) My calves. They look great in boots and heels - firm and muscular again.

    d) My boobs. Big, soft and mine! ;)

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  18. I just found your blog an hour ago and I can't believe I didn't find it sooner. This particular post hits me most because I have just recently started to exercise listing down the things I like about my body, you know, really like, not the "thank god my butt is not as big as yours" like.
    Most of the time I use Amber's technique with the mirror, usually when I'm feeling unreasonably down and insecure about my looks. I'd step away from the crowd, or what/whoever it is making me feel insecure, take a deep breath, look in the mirror and remind myself of all that I have (a working pair of eyes, nose, mouth, all my limbs and fingers complete) and all the insecurities would just seem so insignificant.
    Removing a mirror from this exercise, I think, emphasize it even further, it helps me focus on my body even more and what it means to have it a certain way, even when it doesn't necessarily "fit the look".
    So here's a list of things I appreciate about my body:
    1. My small frame
    This takes a while to come to terms with, but now I really enjoy being petite. The joy of being able to slip out of crowds easily, and always finding a space to fit in (however small) is something I now understand not everyone has, and I'm really grateful for it.
    2. My legs
    I run daily and it keeps my legs toned and strong. I love that I can kick some serious ass, literally.
    3. My lips
    I have a serious case of duck lips. A few years ago, a family friend who is a plastic surgeon suggested I had my top lips done to "fix the balance" (apparently there is a upper to bottom ratio of what is deemed the perfect lips). No, I have never been more offended to this day. For a large part of my life, though, I did feel like my lips are imperfections. Until one day when I was volunteering in a local village I met a little boy with a cleft lip. I realized then I had so much to be thankful for. A couple of months ago, I started seeing someone, who said that his favorite part of my body is my lips (yes, it has something to do with what I do with them *wink). Now my lips are definitely one of my favorite body parts.
    4. My left hand
    I draw and paint with it, it's my passion; I wouldn't know what to do without my left hand.

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