Like many people, I feel insecure about various parts of my body. I’m in my mid-twenties, I work full-time in a public affairs role, and I live in a major city – all of which contribute to self-scrutiny. During my last romantic relationship, I spent a lot of time and energy in showering, exfoliating, shaving and deep-conditioning my hair, and had a four-step, twice-a-day skin care regimen I didn’t dare skip. I was taking care of my body, as it felt necessary. I spent two to three evenings a week in a Pilates mat class or running on an elliptical machine at my neighborhood gym. I practiced yoga at least once a week.
I thought a lot about what I could do about the parts of myself I felt self-conscious about, like my hormonal acne and the cellulite on my thighs. I was constantly researching new potential “solutions” to these “problems”. I thought that if I could fix these things, if I could stay in good shape, I would continue to be attractive to my partner.
Said partner ended our relationship, and the factors listed above were not among the reasons why. All the same, I have a vivid, visceral memory of the week following the break-up, during which I sat on the floor of my bathroom, crying, thinking of all of the time I had spent debating between purchasing the expensive hair mask sitting on my shower rack, thinking that he would appreciate the scent of my hair more after use.
In the depths of my sadness, I remembered to go to the gym, through the motions on my routines, and spend time and money on personal care. I continued to feel less than confident about my body, because despite all of the above, I’d lost what I had cared about. At a low point, I had the irrational thought that my body had somehow betrayed me. Why wasn’t this formulaic devotion to body care good enough to remain attractive to my former partner?
But as the months went on, and I continued to hit my mat for yoga and Pilates classes, I realized that I was starting to care less about how I looked, and more about how I felt. I felt less insecure, and more grateful for the ability to move and be active. I started to care less about what other people see, and more about what I see and more importantly, how I feel.
Through exercise, meditation and careful thought, I’m addressing my insecurities, but for myself. With a lot of self-searching, I’ve found that it’s more important for me to feel at home in my body than it is to make it agreeable to someone else.