Thursday, January 1, 2009

Practice a lover's perspective when looking at ... you

Practice a lover's perspective when looking at ... you~

Love Your Body series on

The gift that I would like you to have this holiday season is seeing your body through my eyes: to see your body as whole, complete, and perfect, just as it is.

As women, we can be so hard on ourselves. We can focus on every flaw, we can magnify our shortcomings, we can compare ourselves to others (or to a younger, prettier, thinner version of ourselves) so that we always fall short.

It's impossible to please an inner critic. It distorts our vision, turning something whole and good -- the gift of our physical bodies -- into an endless self-improvement project in order to be "okay."

But your body is whole, complete, perfect, now, just as it is.

I was reminded of this quote from The Little Prince: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." For years, I thought this quote meant that things that can't be seen, like kindness, goodness, and love, are what are essential. But I now interpret it to mean this: that we can only see what is essential -- in the case of our bodies, their very beauty, the very gift of their existence -- when we look at them rightly, from a perspective of love.

In a favorite poem of mine, Nikki Giovanni's "Love in Place," she speaks about coming across an old picture of herself. Struck by her beauty, she writes, "what I mostly see is me through your eyes." It is by seeing herself through the eyes of a lover, someone who treasured her, that she sees the beauty in herself.

Have you ever looked through older pictures of yourself and thought, "Why was I so hard on myself? I was lovely." Now, what if you could look at yourself now, through this perspective?

It's love that renders us beautiful. "Love is a great beautifier," Louisa May Alcott wrote. What we love we find beautiful; not the other way around.

For years, I thought that the key to loving my body was to make it worthy of love --- to make it the best version of myself, to be as thin and pretty as I possibly could --- and then I would feel love towards it. Then I would call it beautiful. I was like a child trying to be good enough to earn other's love and approval. But I had it backwards, which is why I never felt enough: even when I was at my thinnest or "prettiest."

Love is a behavior, a perspective, a willingness to look underneath the surface and see rightly. You look beyond the "imperfections" --- wrinkles, cellulite, stretch marks, excess weight, sags and bags --- and you see their beauty. It's like going into a beloved friend's messy house, where the table is covered with breakfast dishes and mail, and instead of seeing clutter, you feel welcomed; at home. You see the accoutrements of their daily life and you feel tenderness and affection for the people who live there. Your body is your home, and a well-loved, well-used body will also show signs of wear and tear. This is good, and this is beautiful --- when viewed through the eyes of love.

Look at your body as a lover might. Look at it with tenderness, as a mother looks with tenderness upon the bodies of her children. See it rightly, through the eyes of love. See it as whole, and very, very good.


In love and beauty,
Karly Randolph Pitman


For more articles on loving your body, check out my Love Your Body series on You can also get a no-cost copy of my ebook, Heal Your Body Image: An Inspiring, Step-by-Step Guide to Loving Your Body, Losing Weight, and Feeling Beautiful.

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