How To Feel Comfortable In Your Own Skin
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Keys To Confidence1 of 12
By Natasha Burton
Body hang-ups seem to be part of the female experience. From chastising our inner thighs to feeling guilty upon giving in to a chocolate milkshake craving, many of us have felt at least a bit displeased with how we look at some point in our lives. To uncover the secret to getting rid of this all-too-familiar negative outlook, we asked 11 women—from ages 30 to 75—to share how they came to feel comfortable in their own skin.
Debbie, 592 of 12
"I was in college, feeling overweight and stupid for not being able to lose weight after several diets. (Little did I know that most diets make you gain weight!) But that aside, I was honored when friends asked me to model for their professional artist salon, as they were sick of the popular '70s model-Twiggy look. When one artist said to me, 'We love your mountains and valleys,' I knew I had come home. My body was art!"
Meagan, 303 of 12
"I realized I loved my body when I started salsa dancing. Once I finally embraced my body and stopped expecting myself to look like I never hit puberty, I started loving my curvy figure. And the fact that my boyfriend is 22 and absolutely loves my figure—belly, hips and all—helps."
Sherry, 464 of 12
"I was eight months pregnant with my first child and doing a headstand at my local yoga studio. Up until then, I'd always felt 'not enough' when it came to my body. I wasn't flexible enough or svelte enough or muscular enough. But that quiet moment, upside down, my baby squirming (with pleasure, I think, at the ride), I felt strong and pulsing with life. Ever since then, rather than being 'not good enough,' I appreciate what a fabulous vehicle my body is for my spirit and soul."
Sheila, 305 of 12
"After years of battling health problems and lacking self-confidence, at 28, I finally I gave up trying to fix my body and focused all my attention on what I loved most about it. The shift didn't happen overnight, but little by little, I began spending more time appreciating my body, and almost in tandem, both my self-esteem and my health got better. When I love my body for what it is right in this very moment, I give myself the opportunity to be happy and feel fulfilled without having to reach some arbitrary goal."
Laura, 456 of 12
"When I see myself in the mirror at 45 years old with five children to call my own, professional success despite coping with tragedy, a regimen of running three miles and exercising every morning—which gave me muscles in my arms and legs—a shape like a 25-year-old and a mind of an 80-year-old, I think that's pretty awesome!"
Sherrie, 377 of 12
"I learned to love my body about nine months after the birth of my son. I had never been shy, but my stomach was a source of shame. After it was stretched to the limit during pregnancy and left flabbier than before, my stomach was never to be seen again. Then I took a belly dancing class that required me to show my belly, and I came to embrace the woman that I had become. I decided to get a tattoo on each side of my belly to make me love the marks left by the pregnancy. I feel better about my body than I ever have in my life."
Jessica, 358 of 12
"I started to love my body at age 32, after my mother passed away on her 53rd birthday. I was at my highest weight (345 pounds) and decided I would not spend the next 20 years waiting for death. I began a journey of healing and weight loss, a slow process that's included gastric lap band surgery and an amazing fitness program. Today, I will try anything new—I am not afraid. I just signed up for burlesque dancing classes and I weigh 285 pounds now (a lot of that is muscle)."
Hattie, 759 of 12
"Throughout my adult life, I was generally unhappy about my body. I would try an outfit on, and if it were too tight or unflattering, I'd immediately become annoyed or disgusted. When I got divorced at 48, I was self-conscious until I became a 'cougar' and dated much younger men. Their perception of me as desirable and beautiful rubbed off on me, and I came to love my body with enormous gratitude for being beautiful and fit, even now."
Jean, 5910 of 12
"In college, I had terrible posture. Hunched over, chest caved in, my pelvis tilted back and my head and neck drooped forward. I had such low self-esteem. Slowly and deliberately, I began to open up in dance class. I watched in awe as my body grew and changed. My head finally became an extension of my spine, instead of glued to my chest. I was becoming a different person—a new person. I knew I would never be the same."
Laurie, 4711 of 12
"I learned to love myself, including my body, at 38 after the birth of my daughter. I saw the reflection of myself in her and realized I must become the change I wished to see in my daughter, correcting and disciplining myself so that she could reflect my change. I want my daughter to love herself; I must model that healthy self-love for her."
Amber, 3512 of 12
"When I finally realized that I was never going to be taller, have bigger boobs and lack cellulite, it was like I finally pulled a ratty, old book off the shelf and opened it up to discover it held the most miraculous story. I started to see my body as the gift it is. I found gratitude in how I can hear and respond to music. For the way I love to dance. For the simple pleasures my body provides me of sight, touch, taste, smell."