In the Day 2 entry of Beautiful You, Rosie introduces the Body Warrior Pledge, a commitment to the journey towards self-acceptance. It reads as follows:
The Body Warrior Pledge: Because I understand that my love and respect for my body are metaphors for my love and respect for myself and soul, I pledge:
To stop berating my body and to begin celebrating the vessel that I have been given. I will remember the amazing things my body has given me: the ability to experience the world with a breadth of senses, the ability to perceive and express love, the ability to comfort and soothe, and the ability to fight, provide, and care for humanity.
To understand that my body is an opportunity, not a scapegoat.
To be the primary source of my confidence. I will not rely on others to define my worth.
To let envy dissipate and allow admiration to be a source of compassion by offering compliments to others.
To gently but firmly stand up for myself when someone says or does something harmful.
To change my inner monologue to one that sees possibility not problems, potential not shortcomings, and blessings not imperfections.
To give my body the things that it needs to do its work well – plenty of water, ample movement, stretches, rest, and good nutrition – and to limit or eliminate the things that do not nurture my body.
To use exercise as a way to improve my internal health and strength instead of a way to fight or control my body.
To understand that my weight is not good or bad. It is just a number, and I am only good.
To love my body and myself today. I do not have to weigh ten pounds less, have longer hair, or have my degree in hand to have worth. I have worth just as I am, and I embrace that power.
To recognize my body’s strengths.
To no longer put off the things that I wish to experience because I am waiting to do them in a different body.
To understand that a body is like a fingerprint: a wonderful embodiment of my uniqueness.
Consider this my signature: Amy Hogan // Date: 11/2/2018
Today’s question: Review and sign this Body Warrior Pledge. In your “Beautiful You” journal, make a note of which statement will take the most determination for you to embrace, why, and how you plan on doing it.
I think the hardest ones for me are sort of related or play off of each other: to stop berating my body, stop seeking validation from others, and to stop putting off the things I wish to experience because I am waiting to do them in a body that I may never have.
My body, as is the case with most cis-women and femmes of all genders, has been up for public consumption since I was a child. Nearly everyone in my family had something to say about it. I was only mildly bullied in school, mostly because I was always taller and bigger than the other kids, including the boys, at least until around my junior or senior year of high school. Boys loved to run and tell me, “Hey, my friend over there likes you.” I’d look at the friend, he would bury his face in his hands and shake his head, and his friends would laugh at him and me. This happened a lot and made me feel like boys only saw me as a punchline.
The majority of the bullying and insults about my body came from my own family. My maternal great-grandfather Brophy and uncle Charles who watched everything I ate and constantly talked about how big I was getting. My mom who told me and my brothers that I walked like a man, smelled bad, was built like a man, would never be happy unless I was thin, and would never have a boyfriend who was “normal” unless I was thin (meanwhile, she was thin and attracted abusive assholes). My brothers who called me “fat” or “Shamu” instead of my name whenever they got mad at me. My dad who told my brothers (and tried to stop them from telling me) that “they don’t sell cars to fat, ugly chicks” when they went to the Toyota dealership with me when I bought my first car right after graduating from college.
By the time I met John, I was finally pretty happy with myself. I had a regular exercise routine, doing activities I liked, and I learned how to cook healthy foods I never ate growing up. I had also been through multiple rounds of therapy and still journaled daily.
But my first real intimate romantic relationship threw me for a tailspin. I found myself seeking his validation and approval daily. In the early stages of our relationship, I became addicted to the constant attention and affection and the compliments he gave me about my body, beauty, sense of humor, and intelligence. I was like a sponge because no one had ever been as attentive, affectionate, and complimenting towards me since maybe my grandmother June.
Imagine the withdrawals I went through when John moved in with me nine months into our relationship and the attention, affection, and compliments decreased in frequency. They never disappeared – he still is and does those things today – just don’t happen as intensely as they did in the beginning, which is normal.
I somehow thought it was my fault. I had lost my shine. Growing up in a very southern, fundamental Baptist family and being called “egocentric” by my mom as a teenager (because I stopped doing her bidding and stopped trying to save her from a man she didn’t want to leave despite the abuse she experienced), I was taught I needed to put John first, make sure his needs were met, make sure he was included. I began asking for his opinion on everything and haaaaated myself for it. I felt like part of me died every time I asked for validation from him when I already knew what I thought and wanted.
It didn’t go over well for him either since one of the most attractive features about my personality to him is my independence and ability to think and take care of myself.
I have stopped doing it as much as I used to, but I still find myself fishing for compliments from him and being upset when I don’t get them. Thinking it must be my fault because I’ve gained weight or whatever. Our marriage, like any other relationship, has its cycles. When he is attentive and affectionate, I bloom. When he is more withdrawn, I wilt. This is where I am trying to stop seeking validation from him and seek it from myself.
And several of those people who said the meanest things to me growing up? They’re dead now. Why am I continuing something from someone whose life is long over? I need to let those awful, untrue words about me finally die with them.
Three months before I met John, I danced in a belly dance student show in front of 100+ people and have a DVD of the performance. Was I thin? No. I stepped thousands of miles outside of my comfort zone to bare my belly in front of all of those people, but I did it and I felt so strong, confident, and beautiful. I haven’t done anything like that since then and I retreated deeply back into my “waiting zone.”
I lost focus on myself, as I tend to do in relationships, and got sucked back into my codependent habits because of that deep need for validation from others.
Right now, I am unemployed and I feel lost. For most of my life, I have taken care of others and put my life on hold for them. Now, I don’t have to do that. I don’t have to put my life on hold anymore but doing that is my comfort zone. So right now, I’m not exactly sure what to do so my way of embracing this is to accept the unknown and take the steps in this pledge to take care of myself in the meantime…and from now on because I finally can.