Are you one of those people that made a “get fit” goal for 2023? You said to yourself, this year I will no longer look like x, and I will start exercising and will lose x amount of pounds and do 100 squats a day so that I don’t lose my butt. New year, new meeee! Yuuuuup, so did I! Guilty as charged. Go to jail, straight to jail. Don’t pass go. Don’t collect $200.
Seriously, I have been on an up and down journey since 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, and back in December invested in a Peloton. So far it’s been good, but it took me a long time to get here, and it started with how I thought about myself.
You see, I was never overweight in my lifetime, and I was always what you would call skinny. I even had the nickname skinny minny growing up. Hated it! But, ohhhhh how I would love to fit that persona today! Gimme all the skinny minnies! NOW! After I had my last child, #4, the weight would not go away. And then I started a new job and the free food around the hallways and in the kitchenettes gave me more pounds than I could keep up with. I continued to say over and over again, that I would lose the weight, buuuuuut here we are.
The better thing about today is that I am accepting AND choosing to make choices that are intentional and not anchored in other people’s expectations of me. Society has conditioned women to believe that if they are not a size 2 or 4, they are not pretty. Furthermore, if she doesn’t have blond hair and blue eyes, she won’t make it to People Magazine’s Most Beautiful Women cover page. The impact of this has taught women that our bodies are unacceptable and we must focus on changing it. Audre’ Lorde tells us in her book, Sister Outsider that there is a mythical norm, “In America, this norm is usually defined as white, thin, male, young, heterosexual, Christian, and financially secure. It is with this norm that the trappings of power reside within this society.”
Because most of us do not fit into this norm, we tend to hide who we are, by focusing on changing and investing into our bodies – Hello BBL, implants, new teeth, fake hair and long nails to match – just to fit into the norm – what errybody else is doing. Because we know that if we don’t fit into the norm, then we are likely to be ripped from some of the advantages and opportunities that the white, thin, male, young, heterosexual, Christian and financially able are afforded. There is nothing wrong with doing these things, but is the choice intentional or is the choice rooted in survival and scarcity?
One of my most favorite people in the world has embraced all of who she is and seems to have made the choice to be who she is without judging or shaming herself, or changing who she is to fit into the mold.
And, I would like to present to some, and introduce to others, the famous entertainer of Self-Love – LIZZO !!
Last November, I had the privilege to take my now 15 year old daughter and her friend to see Lizzo in concert. One thing that was abundantly clear at her concert was that Lizzo is defying the stereotypes, breaking through barriers and not concerning herself with who the world thinks she should be. She is giving 2 middle fingers to the world, and not giving two f&@k$ about what anyone thinks about it. I am not telling you that you shouldn’t exercise and lose weight or take in what people say about you, but what I am telling you is that whatever you want to look like, be comfortable in that choice. For God’s sake you must have self-acceptance and Lizzo is proof in the pudding that what God has for you, is for you and no one can stop it. The reality is, there are some skinny bitches out there, that are miserable too. Hmph! 😤
I can see you rolling your eyes saying, TaSheena, yea, that sounds good. Lizzo has money and her weight is part of her persona and it’s making her all that money, so of course she is accepting. Ok, ok, stop rolling your eyes at me, okay.
I’m sharing this story with you because self-acceptance plays a major role in leadership. It is what’s needed to choose, make decisions and to activate your goals. Leaders who aren’t accepting of themselves tend to be people pleasers, risk-adverse and will avoid conflict. The following are ways that I have found to help me to be self-accepting of all of me – including my body and my weight – even when the world tries to condition me to think otherwise.
Examine your conditioning.
Think about your family, community, institutions, spirituality/beliefs, and social norms. From a very young age, you have been told what is right/wrong and good/bad. When you did the wrong or bad thing, there was a negative impact. When you did the right or good thing, the opposite was true. In essence, this was how you were conditioned to what the world said you should be. Examining those conditions and then making the choices that fit with what feels natural to you will help in your journey to self-acceptance.
Give yourself Permission.
As women, we have to give ourselves the permission to make choices that don’t follow the status quo or may not be perceived as acceptable. This means that you have to give yourself permission to set boundaries, to stand in your power and to be ok putting your wants and needs first. By giving yourself permission you are telling your mind, body and soul, that you accept the choices that you make – without any of the guilt.