Tag Archives: Body Positivity

Conversations with Your Life | Challenge: Day 4

Today, you’re invited
to make a list of all
the amazing things
your body does for you
and allows you to do.

List at least 20.

Then celebrate
+ say thank you!


Week 4 of the course with be all about conversations with your body. This is really yummy stuff.
 

To the Glorious Round Woman in the Piazza

I see you
in the Piazza
near the Uffizi.

It’s a hot day,
hotter than we
expected for October.
You’re wishing you
hadn’t chosen jeans
this morning
and your polyester top
isn’t helping.
You pull the top away
from your collarbones,
fan yourself with the fabric.

Your face is pink with heat
and something else
I recognize.

Your tour guide is talking
but you find it hard to focus
on what she’s saying.

I see it.
The moment you think,
“I’m too fat for this.”
“I’m too fat for this tour,
too fat for Florence,
for this piazza ringed
by statues
of perfect bodies.

You think people are looking at you.
You think you should have stayed home.
You think, “Who was I kidding?”

Oh, Girl!

I want to tell you that
you’re exactly where
you’re meant to be.

The piazza suits you.
Florence suits you.
Travel suits you.

You are glorious beyond measure.

Drape yourself in cotton and linen.
Move through the city.
Employ all your senses.
Let the world dazzle you.

Surrender yourself to your life.

You are exactly where you are meant to be.
You are glorious beyond measure.
 
 

What I’m up to right now + how you can join me:

Conversations with Your Life: An Online Course
This yummy six-week online course begins on Monday 30th October and the deadline for registering is Friday 27th October at midnight (EST). Here are the delicious details.

Six Day Challenge
During the week of October 16th – 21st, I’ll host a six day Conversations with Your Life Challenge where I’ll offer daily exercises to give you a wee taste of the course. I’ll be posting the challenges on my blog, Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to check out, and participate in, the challenge.

New Year’s Conversations with Your Life Retreat
We’re hosting three or four women in Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia from Thursday 28th December 2017 until Monday 1st January 2018. The retreat is a live version of the online course and includes transportation, accommodations and meals. The deadline for registering is Friday 27th October at midnight (EST). If this is your jam, you can learn more about the retreat here.

 

Leggings, Body Love + Beauty Queens

This is the first post in a series I’ll be writing about learning to appreciate, respect and love our own bodies.

A few days ago I read a Facebook post about an American High School Principal’s comments to an assembly full of Grade 9 and 10 students. She was talking about leggings. Yes, that’s right. Leggings. And it’s not even that leggings were against the school’s dress code (they’re not) but the Principal felt that she needed to educate the girls about who should be wearing them. She said, “I’ve told you this before, I’m going to tell you this now. Unless you wear a size 0 or 2 and you wear something like that, even though you’re not fat, you look fat.”

In the comments to this Facebook post, several women spoke out against this educator’s message and the potential negative impact on the students. Someone commented that this would make girls with eating disorders even more self-conscious. Yes, I thought. That’s true. Her words might further harm those with body image issues (which describes many of us) but the real problem with her comments is the assumption that it’s not okay for girls and women to live in a round body. That it’s not okay for them to be fat.

I’m going to repeat this. The problem is the assumption that it’s not okay for girls and women to live in a round body. That it’s not okay for them to be fat.

So I took a deep breath and wrote this: “The most shocking thing about this remark is that it is not new. People have been talking to girls and women like this forever and we are just now starting to notice and to say, “That’s not right’. Also these kinds of remarks are not just harmful for girls with eating disorders but also to actual fat girls. Like me and so many other gorgeous girls and women like me. ”

Now, if you know me, you’ll know that’s not a typical Monna-move. For many years, I’ve flown under the radar with my views on body positivity. While I feel SO strongly about understanding the ways in which society has shaped our views about weight, beauty, gender and power, it felt safer to have those conversations with students or coaching clients individually or in small groups. The work of helping girls and women untangle years of conditioning and limiting beliefs about themselves has been largely an offline and private endeavour. But there was something about one of the commenters that really got to me.

She shared a screenshot of “bad leggings images” from Google, chastised us for bullying the Principal and celebrated this educator for teaching the girls the right way to dress and behave. I could not believe it. A number of people responded to her comments but she was not to be deterred.

I thought about responding. I thought about asking her why she hated fat girls and women so much. Something had rendered this woman incapable of letting girls and women enjoy the body they’re in and dressing to please themselves.

But I didn’t post. Fortunately my better angels arrived just in time (as they so often do) and I chose to click on this woman’s Facebook page to learn more about her. Although I was not entirely surprised to see other conservative views shared on her page, one very relevant fact caught my attention. She had competed in beauty pageants in the early 1960s and had won a state title. While I’m sure that some young women have had positive experiences in these competitions, there’s not much space for body diversity or rounder bodies. Beauty pageant culture places thinness in the Penthouse right next door to godliness. Beauty pageants perpetuate the idea that it’s a girl’s job to be pretty.

It is not the job of girls and women to be pretty. That’s not our job.

Suddenly I didn’t feel so angry at this woman. I saw her as absolutely shaped by her life experience and by the beliefs of the adults around her as she grew up and developed her own worldview. I felt empathy for her and her situation.

Instead of responding to this woman’s Facebook comments I went to my own Facebook page and wrote:
Lovelies, After reading some particularly toxic + fat-shaming comments regarding what young women should (and should not) wear, I remembered these words from poet nayyirah. waheed.
YOU ARE YOUR OWN STANDARD OF BEAUTY.
I’d love for you to share, in the comments below, a photograph of yourself. A photo in which you are your own standard of beauty. I’ll go first. Monna xo

Do you remember the line, “If you build it, he will come” from the movie Field of Dreams? Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, hears these words and builds a baseball field on his corn field. Everyone thinks he is crazy but it turns out that he’s not crazy at all. My version of this was, “If you write it, she will show up.” On Sunday, eleven members of my tribe responded to my post by sharing photographs of themselves and claiming their own beauty.

These photographs said:
*I don’t need to feel totally ready in order to show up for myself (because I’ll never feel totally ready)
*I don’t have to look perfect in order to show up (because, of course, there is no perfect)
*I believe in my own inherent worth and that of my Mom and my kids and my friends (and even the inherent worth of the body shamers because it’s our hope that when they know better, they’ll do better)
*I’m not going to feel ashamed of myself or the way I look no matter what other people say and do

I’m so grateful to these women for helping me turn a really frustrating Facebook encounter into a lovely and affirming experience.

What is one way in which you could CELEBRATE your own unique standard of beauty?
 

Your life as a house

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*This post was first published in The Sunday Reader.
**Soundtrack for this post: Ólafur Arnalds’ Living Room Songs and Adele’s 25.

We humans believe many things about ourselves that are not true or useful.

Round women, in particular, and women who perceive themselves to be round, are in terrible danger of creating for ourselves a too-small life. We apologize for ourselves, we slouch to take up less space and we embark on fewer physical adventures for fear of what other people might think about how we look as we cycle/swim/hike. Where our heart yearns for colour, polka dots and pink tulle skirts, we choose black. There are many photographs of our children but we’re not in them. We may even begin to believe, to give into, the story about fat people being lazy, unsuccessful and stupid OR we may work like crazy to demonstrate the ways in which we are not those things… and become workaholics and perfectionists instead. We say yes when we should say no. For me, the most damaging of all is the idea that we are not in the same “league” as the wonderful man or woman we might love, the toxic notion that somehow we are not good enough for a multitude of lovely life-things.

This silliness is a construction. I will repeat. It is all made up.

If we round women examine our own life as a house, many of us will see ~ upon VERY close inspection ~ that our dwelling (not our physical body but the way we’ve been living) is not structurally sound. This house will not hold the life we want. And once we’ve seen that truth, we can’t not see it. We’ll know, in our very bones, that we need to make changes in our lives but the way we proceed can’t be prescribed; the way forward will depend on our personality, our support network and our unique perspective on life. Some of us may feel crazy with anger about the condition of our home. We may want to burn the damned thing to the ground and have a bulldozer remove all evidence that particular house ever existed. Those wise souls who have, for some time, been aware that their house is no longer adequate may opt for a gentler dismantling and a recycling of materials in the building of their new home. The windows, for example, might be used in the construction of an arboretum, a warm peaceful place to grow orchids, drink tea and read novels. Perhaps some women will build their new house up around the old one which will live on as a storage space or a museum. The speed and method of construction is ours to decide but the important + challenging + magical bit lies in the recognition and understanding of the ways in which our current life-house does not meet our needs. When we see our house as it really is, we can mourn what’s been lost and begin to create a glorious new dwelling.

Yes. That’s it exactly. Glorious.

I’m working on a new project about life design for round women (and women who think of themselves as round). I’m not yet sure if it’s a book or a course but I know that I’ve been waiting a long time to write this, to share these thoughts, to encourage my fellow round women to get out into the vast beautiful world and LIVE the life you were made for, the one you desire with all your heart. This is not a small thing… to leave your old house after years of living there. Especially if you believed the only way you’d have a right to ask for something better was if you were thin.

Finally, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this project. You are invited to share your story with me… and/or tell me what you’d like me to include in this book/course. Please email me or leave a comment below. Thanks ever so much!