Sunday, June 10, 2012

Being Happy in the Skin We Live In

Summer season is upon us and many of us have major issues during this season with showing skin and certain body parts. So this special Self-love Sunday edition of my column is dedicated to those of you who are struggling with living in your skin and embracing ALL of you.

Last week, I received the following tweet from someone who found me via this blog and started to follow me on Twitter:
“OMG, you’re so pretty. You’re an inspiration to me cuz I'm plus size too and you make me feel like I can be happy in my own skin.”
I looked at the tweeter's page and it was a 19 yr-old girl from Canada. It meant so much to me because to inspire someone young is everything. I never really had someone plus size to inspire me in that fashion when I was growing up, but I was one of the lucky ones. Thank goodness I had and still have a strong, outgoing personality. That and parents who loved me unconditionally were my saving graces.

People often ask me why I bare my soul weekly here – I have been told by a few people that I reveal too much about myself. Well, it’s because of people like the young lady who tweeted me, that I put myself out there. While I try to give sound advice, I want all of you to know that I am not perfect and everything I preach and talk about, all come from lessons I have learned in my life. I can’t preach about it if I don’t know about it.  That’s what I believe.

But the important part of preaching something to someone else, is also to practice what you preach. While I consider myself confident and know I love myself, I do have parts of me that I don’t quite love yet. It’s a work in progress. But that’s normal so I try not to be so hard on myself. We all have parts of our bodies that we don’t like. Again, we’re human and not perfect. But many of us aim to achieve a state of perfection that we have concocted in our minds so we end up on this never ending journey of trying to obtain a look that is unrealistic.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw Kathy Najimy on the Wendy Williams Show. She did something that really made me think. She looked directly into the camera and said to all of us viewers, that if we are not happy with our bodies, it is okay to make a change. But at the end of the day, you have to love yourself and be happy with who you are, no matter what your size.  So if you want to be plus size, more power to you! If you want to lose weight, good for you too! What matters is being comfortable in your body.

I recently joined a group on Facebook called Fattoo. It’s a group where ladies sell their new and gently used clothes in sizes 20 and up. However, it has become more than that for me and for others in the group. You see women daily posting pics of themselves in items they bought in confident, proud poses. I always thought I was the biggest girl I know at a size 26/28. Well, there’s girls in this group who are larger than that and they’re wearing two-piece swimsuits and corsets! They proudly own their bodies and will quote their measurements with the quickness. They also support one another and uplift one another. When a pic goes up, many of the other ladies comment with compliments and positive feedback. It's nice to see women inspiring one another in a community where sometimes that is not the case.

It is truly a brand new world for me. And one that has made me truly reflect on some of the issues I have with my own body parts. My 19-yr old fan, Kathy Najimy and the women of Fattoo…they all inspire me to do better in accepting all of me, including the body parts I dislike. They inspire me to fully own who I am and live freely in my own skin.

We all may not be perfect but a part of all of our journeys is to inspire one another. As one of my favorite African proverbs states “Each one, teach one.” We’re all teaching each other even when we don’t realize it. We do so by being true to ourselves and who we are. While it may be a daily struggle to fully be comfortable in your own skin, what counts is the effort. If you truly try one day at a time, there will come a day, when you will embrace all of you with ease.

I’m already more than halfway there, this I know. I walk with my head up high and I love dressing my body. I am still working on the swimsuit thing (ugh) and wearing sleeveless shirts.  I have gotten better with the latter. But again, I am a work in progress and not ashamed to admit that. I believe in my beauty so that helps me in not being so hard on myself. When we let go of expectations and ideas of who we “should” be, then we can truly be ourselves. Then we will realize that, that was who we were meant to be all along. We are beautiful, just the way we are, in the bodies we have and in the skin we live in.

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