What does it take to feel good about YOU? Not the temporary, damn-I-look-good-today feeling, but the long-term, internalized sense of self-nourishment that shows itself not just when you’re dressed and out the door, but when you’re alone looking in the mirror at the woman you’ve become?
Can you answer that question from the perspective of one who has learned how to nurture her best self, or are you on the list of black women who have confused feeling good with looking good? How is it that on any given Saturday, we can etch out four hours to wash, trim and dry our hair in our favorite salon, get mani/pedis, and carefully examine each sale rack at Anthropologie, yet we somehow cannot find the time to exercise consistently? We drive past our white sisters jogging on the sidewalks in neat little groups on our way to the salon, and though we know they’ve got the right idea, we’re still stopping at a nearby fast food chain to grab something because we know it’s going to be a long morning getting our coif to look just right. Is all this “fixing up” truly serving us?
If we’re sacrificing the fullest versions (read: healthy and happy) of ourselves for the watered down, dressed up versions of who we should and could be, what gives, sis? Are we using the foods we eat and our collective warped sense of sexuality—courtesy of media and society—to dis-empower our own best selves?
Gail Wyatt, PhD, in her 1998 book, “Stolen Women: Reclaiming Our Sexuality, Taking Back Our Lives”, explores the connection between black women’s past and how it affects our “now” as sexual beings. It is not a stretch in our minds to say that this necessary re-empowerment of ourselves with regard to embracing our sexuality extends beyond that facet and into our overall health. We are more overweight than any other group, even with the often-skewed standard of our body types versus others (some of us need a bit of extra leeway for our beautifully ample bottoms!), but let’s stare the truth in its face and admit that a high BMI is a high BMI, no matter what’s in your trunk!
What is the solution? That’s a heavy question that warrants professional perspectives and open discussion; but for starters, let’s take on the idea of nourishment, self-nurturing, and growth. This means opening ourselves to some potentially life-transforming “What ifs”:
• WHAT IF we ditched the retail therapy and vowed that instead of buying expensive jeans to mask our discomfort with our bodies, we embraced the idea of exercising three times per week to get our bodies looking good in almost any jeans? Let’s be real, all of the PZI’s and Apple Bottoms in the world will not excuse the disdain we feel when we remove them and look in the mirror—however, a couple of Salsa, belly or pole dancing classes will. Exercise does not have to be all hardcore, P90xish, all it takes it to get it moving and keep it moving on a fairly consistent basis. Our bodies and our spirits require that we work and sweat. Once we commit to it, our body will commit to looking good in any type of outfits, especially the ones made for our voluptuously curvy bodies.
• WHAT IF we rewarded instead of punishing ourselves when it came to our sugar addictions? In moderating our intake and accepting that sugar really is a necessary part of life (like chocolate-hello!), perhaps we energetically change the nature of the food and how it affects our bodies. Now don’t go out and eat a pan of brownies proclaiming that we said that if I tell my brownies to satiate my taste buds and not leave a trace of fat in my body, it would. Um, not exactly! However, what we are proposing is that the very nature of food is to energize. That energy vibrates at low and high levels. Vibrationally a brownie is filled both energies and they taste simply orgasmic! So next time your craving peaks and you forego your “diet” to indulge, eat it with a healthy respect for its ability to satisfy instead of berating yourself with each bite for falling off the wagon. In other words, redefine our relationship with the foods we love, and focus on moderation and acceptance as opposed to guilt and self-punishment.
• WHAT IF we respected our health as much as we respect a good shoe sale? Typically, many of us consider our today with little regard for tomorrow. When faced with the decision to buy the “expensive” produce now or the cheaper canned produce, we choose our wallets over our health, not fully realizing that our health is our wealth and natural food medicine is way cheaper than the hospital bills that we are sure to incur as we age (faster) as a result of packaged eating.
• WHAT IF we were able to release our need for control and our need to place “comfortable limitations” in our life? Imagine the openness and growth that you would experience if you made a decision to release your comfort zone. When we hold ourselves to the agreement we made with our comfort zones we also unconsciously agree not to expand and evolve. Can you think of one self-inflicted Safety Zone that you could shatter today? What if exactly what you desire is waiting on the other side of comfort?
• WHAT IF we listened to our Authentic Voice and accepted a bit of selfishness when it came to doing what makes US feel good and right and happy? Selfish has a bad rap in our society, getting shunned and berated every way we turn. Even still, the one thing selfish gets right, is it takes care of itself. Gasp! What a novel idea: Taking Care of Self. Imagine what your life would look like if made yourself at least as much of a priority as your family, friends and career)? You may even feel liberated enough to remove those people and things from your life that no longer work in line with your best self! Imagine that!
• WHAT IF we opened ourselves in a way that allowed us to be ultra sensitive to our environments and were able to find sensual stimulation in the most routine of activities? The bedroom is where it all seemingly goes down, but let’s ask ourselves, is there an option besides waiting until we put the children to bed, close out our day, fold that pile of laundry, and get to the bedroom just to realize that we’re really too tired and fall asleep? Womp, womp! Sensuality is a state of being and awareness, a vibrational pattern that attracts experiences. We’re not talking about overtly sexual experiences, we’re talking about the experience of seeing a spring blossom that tickles your insides and opens you up to real beauty. Or the first bite of that ridiculous chocolate pastry that you’ve been eyeing, that sends your taste buds into a euphoric climax. Technically, you could be “getting some” all day if you fully understand how our sensory bodies play with the surrounding environment to give us positive energy daily.
• WHAT IF we released our cultural bias against therapy (mental and sexual), and talked with a professional about how to begin any necessary healing that may lead to the steps of overall self-love, including our sexual needs, tendencies and misconceptions?
What other What If’s could potentially change your life in the direction you want it to head? Could a re-evaluation of your Food/Sex/Self life be long overdue?
*Co-written by Akilah S. Richards (Execumama Enterprises) and Shelley Chapman (Naturi Beauty Concepts). Originally posted on ThatBlackGirlSite.com