Years ago a friend told me about a daily practice of self-love she had. During her shower in the morning she would honor, thank, and appreciate each body part as she washed it.
My friend would touch the body part, clean it with care and think to herself, “Thank you hands, for everything you help me hold and manipulate. Arms, I appreciate you for all the things you’ll help me carry today and all the things you helped me carry yesterday. Ears, you are so incredibly useful and enjoyable. Thank you for allowing me to hear music. Feet! You help me balance so beautifully…” Sometimes she would give extra special care to a body part that was hurting or ailing her in some way.
When I first heard my friend talk about this practice I thought it sounded like way too much work first thing in the morning, but over the years I find myself doing this very thing more and more. And the more I acknowledge my various body parts the more I enjoy and appreciate them.
I recently got a Tom Chapin CD from the library and my daughter and I listen to it throughout the day. One song is called “My face” and the lyrics are all about why he likes the various parts of his face. He likes his eyes, they’re like his spies, etc. When we listen to the song, I notice the contrast of all the times during my childhood, adolescence and adulthood that I have failed to appreciate my body.
What frightens me is the thought that my own daughter could (and likely will) experience some of the same disdain for her wonderful body that I did as a young person. Our culture seems to value only one body type for women and if girls only see supermodels in magazines and compare themselves to the one percent of women who are tall, thin, and busty, they are sure to find fault in their own bodies. And it’s not just girls who are at risk for low self-esteem due to poor body image. Boys also see the ultra muscular guys in catalogs and think that they can’t possibly measure up.
Luckily for us, by honoring, appreciating, and celebrating our bodies we can subvert the pop culture idea of beauty and teach our children about real and lasting beauty. I want my daughter to experience the kind of beauty that pours out of me when I’m feeling great inhabiting my body. I want her to know that my eyes look more radiant and alive when I’m in a state of gratitude than they do when I put a bunch of make-up on them.
My husband is a chiropractor and enjoys studying anatomy so lately there have been a few anatomy books around the house. Every time I pick one up I learn something new and experience a sense of awe at the complexity and perfection of the human body.
So this week, notice and appreciate everything you can about your body. Share the things you notice with your children and ask them to join you in paying extra special attention to our wonderful bodies. They really are incredible!
Have a fantastic week! Warmly, Shelly