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Today I want to talk about body image, media, and the culture of ideals that we live in.  It's something that weighs heavy on my mind always, but that I've been struggling with more lately.  I'm seeing an acupuncturist and an Ayurvedic doctor to treat some health issues I'm contending with (more on that another day, but please don't worry all will be well!) and they've advised me to eat exclusively cooked foods, to eat an abundance of protein via nuts and seeds, and to generally just incorporate more fat into my diet to gain strength.  So I have. And my body is doing things, it's changing. With these changes have come an extra 5 or so pounds that I'm carrying around to prove it.  I've been dreading shooting style posts because I can be very cruel to myself when I've gained weight.  I'm human, we gain and lose weight.  It happens, right?  And when I see it happen to those around me I recognize it for what it is- life.  And harmless.  But with myself, I beat myself up.  I say things to myself that I would NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS say to someone I love.  {more on this after the jump} 

SHOP THIS OUTFIT:  shirt: Robert Rodriguez, shorts: Finders Keepers, shoes: Zara (old, similar), clutch: Clare Vivier, bracelets: Young + Frank, Giles + Brother, ring: Jules Smith

I can be ruthless.  I know I'm not the only one that does it.  I hear girl friends doing it to themselves all the time. I've seen them struggle with their freshman 15 bodies, their post-baby bodies, their post-holiday bodies.  The underlying message we tell ourselves, that we spread in conversations with each other, that gets repeated over and over in the media, is that we're not good enough UNLESS.  Unless our skin and hair looks a certain way, unless our bodies fit a certain standard, unless our clothes, makeup, home and LIFE look a certain way.  I fall into this trap WAY too often.  

But I'm calling Bullshit.  I'm no different today, this curvier version of myself, than I was three weeks ago.  I still love my husband, my family, my friends, my dogs with the same abundance.  The things that are truly important about me- my character,  my heart, my values, my talents - none of those things change with the number on the scale, the numbers in my bank account, the current state of my home.  Yours don't either.  Next time you catch yourself chastising yourself for not living up to some ideal, if you can, go easy on yourself.  Change the negative thoughts into a positive,  give yourself a compliment, the way you would a friend who is suffering.  Try to see yourself the way your loved ones see you, with a heavy focus on all that is good and barely any time to notice the rest.  It's the least you deserve, the very least, I promise you.  We're all in this together! 

Let's be kind to ourselves and kind to each other.  Let's be proud and loving of our bodies, in whatever shape they're in.  Let's be gentle with our thoughts, and forgiving of ourselves.  We're not all meant to be the same. We're absolutely not meant to be perfect; we are all, EXACTLY AS WE ARE, inherently good and right where we're meant to be.  Let's challenge the perceptions and beliefs we have that are based on absolute craziness rather than let them dictate our happiness and self worth.  

It's so important to me that this site not perpetuate that madness!  I will be working on the above myself, I see these new curves as a way to remind myself every day to move towards more love and less struggle.  I hope they can serve as the same for any of you who also wrestle with these issues.  If I were a betting girl I'd say it was most of us.  

And finally, just for the record, this is absolutely terrifying to put out there.  Like being naked on the internet/Times Square terrifying.  Which is how I know this conversation is so important.  Every time I've been scared to hit publish but gone through with it I've been rewarded by your words that remind me that it's really important for me to share the hard stuff, that I am SO not alone in my challenges.  After all I think what we're all looking for here on the internet is to connect with eachother and ourselves.  Conversations like these allow us to do it.  More soon.  Thank you for reading, thank you for sharing yourselves with me, thank you for the supoort- it all means so much to me.  xx- Sarah

Reader Comments (42)

Good for you! Thank you for saying this. I hope people take it to heart and change their perceptions, attitudes and words for the better.

01/24/14 | 8:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterBecky

what an amazing post, sarah. thank you for sharing it. i have the same exact problems, probably like most other women, and what i've realized is that no matter what i weigh or what size i am, i will always have something negative to say to myself. i'm that girl everyone hates, who puts herself down constantly, but secretly. i don't express my feelings about myself to others because i don't want anyone to know my struggles. but they are definitely there. and i'm working on them. thank you so much for letting me know i'm not alone.

01/24/14 | 8:25 AM | Unregistered Commentercaitlin

Tell it, sista! Body image, especially with women, is such an issue and it's kinda sick what the media has created. I just learned the other week that a friend's niece is in a facility for anorexia (at 14) and it is just too sad. I know with myself, it's just not letting it go from caring to obsessive. Kinda like when you cut your hair- it will grow back. Weight fluctuates, it just does. Thanks for sharing–you look beautiful!

01/24/14 | 8:36 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamie levine

Loved this post - so inspiring! I've been struggling with this myself recently as I've gained a lot of weight. This post gives me hope so thank you!

01/24/14 | 8:38 AM | Unregistered Commenterfashionablecollections

thanks everyone!

@caitlin- keep at it! try to see yourself the way the people that love you do, i'm pretty sure they'd tell you you're insanely amazing!!!

@jamie - i know, it's especially heartbreaking to see how this plays out with young women and girls. someone close to me struggles with anorexia as well and it breaks my heart into pieces, i would do anything to heal her and just want so badly for her to be able to see herself the way i see her.

@fashionablecollectives- yes! you'll gain weight and you'll lose weight and neither matters. embrace the curves! focus on health and making loving choices for yourself (that's my mantra these days!!!)

01/24/14 | 8:46 AM | Registered Commentersarah yates

Life is about embracing changes! but sometimes it's a hard thing to do. When I was in my early 30s, I used to be so hard on myself, now I'm in my early 40s and I have learned to love who I am and be so much confident about my look and my life (hey, I'm blogging). You look wonderful to me and I bet you all your followers will agree with me and btw, your hair color is amazing!

"A Sunny Black and White" Blog post on:

01/24/14 | 8:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterCarelia

You rock Sarah! Love this post!

01/24/14 | 8:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterLauren

love this. and you look fantastic! being healthy and fit and happy is so much more important than being svelte. confidence and swag is what makes an outfit work!

01/24/14 | 8:59 AM | Unregistered Commenteramanda

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