When I was a little kid I would tease my dad for having so much hair all over his body.
Then, when I was 21 (and still living as a woman) I went on a trip to Honduras with my girlfriend to visit her family. One night at the dinner table, her mom was outwardly disgusted with my body hair. Only, she didn't tell me. She told her daughter, who passed along the message to me. My body was flooded with shame. And ironically, I was only growing my hair out long enough so it could get waxed.
So the next day I go to get my legs and armpits waxed at a salon (much more affordable compared to the U.S.). The woman attending me looks astonished and says, "Quién es el peludo de tu familia?" AKA "Who is the hairy one in your family?" Trying to cover my shame, I laughed it off politely and blamed it on my dad.
Was it karma that gave me this experience? Was it karma that I later would go through male puberty and have to confront my hairy body as each day it would resemble that of my father's more and more? Partly, yes. The other part of it is a mere reflection of our collective trauma as a human species. Shame is a useful survival skill. It is our body's way of communicating to us that we're straying away from the social norm.
You see, human beings are wired to cooperate because we are much more likely to survive when we cooperate. However, shame becomes a tool of oppression when it is manipulated to control others. Why do we have so much shame about our natural bodies? Do the trees grow and feel shame about their bark? Their leaves? Who benefits from your shame? Cuz when you're feeling shame, you're hiding. Who benefits when you make yourself small?
We are all reflections of each other. Having diverse relationships will help you discover more parts of yourself that you didn't even know you needed to see reflected back at you. We're all just different variations of human potential. But at the end of the day we are all just modeling different possibilities within the human experience. When I shamed my dad's body as a kid, I was merely mimicking behaviors and beliefs I had learned from my environment. From people like my girlfriend's mom or the salon attendant. It's not that bodies are inherently shameful. It's that there is an invisible virus living in our brains that we unknowingly infect each other. Have you caught a strain? A strain of the body shame?
The beautiful thing is that you don't have to wait for someone else to stop spreading it in order to heal from the dis-ease it creates. It starts with you. How do you unlearn body shame? Change your behaviors FIRST and your beliefs will follow.
I hug myself every single day. I kiss myself when I wake up in the morning and tell myself "I love you." When I notice body shame creeping in, I take a deep breath and allow it to be there. I breath through the discomfort. I am not shame. Shame flows through me. I let it run it's course. Then, I redirect my attention to a place of neutrality by reminding myself of the facts: I have a body. My body houses my soul. I could't live without a body.
And then I take an even bigger step into gratitude. "Thank you body for housing my soul. Thank you for helping me navigate and enjoy life. Thank you hands for all the beauty you create" (whether it's food, art, sex or whatever). The fact that I have hands (and don't get me started on thumbs!) is magical✨. What a fucking blessing. Truly. "Thank you legs for giving me the freedom to move wherever I please. Thank you feet for supporting all my weight." I'm so grateful to be alive and well. I'm so grateful to stop the spread of shame, starting with me! Because I can't control other people, but I can control how I treat and relate to myself. And I choose love. It doesn't happen overnight. It's a practice. But with consistent practice, you can reprogram your body away from shame and into love.
What would become possible in your life if you felt less shame and more love? How would getting dressed in the morning change? How would your experience of sex be different? How would your energy shift?
I invite you to start loving on yourself. TODAY. No matter how awkward it might feel at first. That's all part of the process. You're exactly where you're meant to be 💜 And you're not alone!