All over the world we are seeing women and girls suffering from eating disorders, dangerous dieting trends, and low self-worth brought on by the saturation of unrealistic and unattainable body images throughout the global media landscape. Even young girls in elementary school are not immune to having a negative view of their prepubescent bodies. This January the Love Warrior Community & SelfLoveWarrior.com are changing that by providing a safe space for women to love their bodies during their annual 31-Day Self-Love Writing Challenge.
The challenge was started by mother and daughter team, Michelle and Emelina Minero who created the Love Warrior Community in 2010. Michelle is a therapist with a goal of ending eating disorders as founder of the non-profit Eating Disorder Recovery Support, Inc., and author of “Self-Love Diet: The Only Diet That Works.” Emelina is a writer, editor and community builder. Aside from her work with the Love Warrior Community, she founded The Human Experience in her quest to promote diversity in “everyone’s human experience,” and also writes for popular media outlets such as Curve Magazine.
The Love Warrior Community uses creative expression for healing and to increase self-love, self-acceptance and body acceptance. Women can consume, and produce their own, body positive writing, videos, art, music, and images. “What we’re creating is an aggregate of inspiring and body positive media to help people develop their own self-love practice,” says Emelina. “It’s an alternative to the negative and body critical media that exists in mainstream culture – in magazines, in movies, in TV shows, in commercials, in everyday conversation – it exists everywhere, and we’ve created a hub of body positive and uplifting media.”
Whatever issues you are dealing with, accepting yourself as you are will help you succeed. As a young woman I was exposed to constant media images and that coupled with comments from my peers instilled in me disgust for my body around the age of 12. My breasts were never large enough, my stomach never flat enough, my nose and feet were too big, and my hair was too frizzy. I could go on, but you get the picture, I hated my body because it wasn’t perfect. Having such a negative view of me was a large source of my depression, wreaking havoc in my relationships, causing me to doubt my talents, and feel miserable any time I wanted to go out in public.
I was fortunate to never become so obsessed with my body that I hurt myself. However several of my friends, relatives and co-workers suffered through unhealthy dieting, anorexia, bulimia, and even plastic surgery in their quest for acceptance. Some of them eventually learned to love themselves, but there are still those who are so insecure they have passed self-hate along to their daughters.
It wasn’t until age 30 that I stopped obsessing over my own body. I started by using less cosmetics and focusing more on what I saw as my best features. Change didn’t happen overnight. It was an arduous journey. The real tipping point was when I changed my thinking. Reading articles about people who had “imperfect” bodies and chose to accept and love that body without question was a real help. About 18 years of self-hate and I can finally say that I love my body. Though I still desire to look good, it’s not out of a need to look like a model. I am contentedly happy naturally and this gives me a feeling of freedom and confidence that shows up in other parts of my life.
Every once in a while, a negative thought jumps into my mind, such as comparing my small breasts to women with a larger cup size, but those thoughts don’t last because I immediately recognize those as unnecessary. Personal appearance should be about self-expression and your own comfort, not about what an advertisement or celebrity endorses.
My story is not unique. In the first year of the challenge it was only Michelle and Emelina sharing posts of self-love. This year had 27 entries on the first day alone. As the challenge grows and our culture evolves it has become easier for women to make a conscious choice of embracing their bodies as perfectly imperfect.
Emelina admits to having her own self-doubts in the past concerning her sexual orientation, she came out publicly when she was 19, and a mental health diagnosis. “I still wasn’t completely comfortable with my identity as a lesbian after I came out. I no longer feel like my sexual orientation is something that I should hide. This past year my self-love journey has largely revolved around realizing that I have bipolar 2 disorder,” says Emelina. Despite social stigmas of sexual orientation and mental health, she is not only able to accept herself, but she is able to support and offer resources to others on the path of self-acceptance.
Every submission of self-love will enter the participant in a drawing to win an autographed copy of Michelle Minero MFT’s book “Self-Love Diet: The Only Diet That Works,” as well as her upcoming Self-Love Diet e-products. Women who are not comfortable sharing their proclamation publicly are encouraged to write a daily post in a private journal. Self-Love Warrior, where the 31-Day Self-Love Writing Challenge is hosted, is the Love Warrior Community’s group blog where anybody can submit or read self-love writing. The self-love writing is unique to each writer and explores whatever they are working on and where they are in their self-love journey.
Are you ready for a change in how you view yourself? The challenge starts with one question, “How would your life be different if you loved yourself and your body?”
You can join the challenge at selflovewarrior.com/2013/12/31/31-day-self-love-writing-challenge-2014/ and at facebook.com/events/655109521205992
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