Body Talk: Erin Cauley, Head Designer
Welcome to Body Talk, an S-Life series where we will be fearlessly opening this portal of communication about self-love, self-deprecation, and touching on anything and everything in-between.
The aim here is not image-making, or perfection-seeking. Rather, it is image-wrecking, perfection-shattering, and infinite-purpose discovering in order to peel back the layers of the images we have each built of ourselves and who we are suppose to be, in faithful anticipation that we may unearth the absolute Love and Beauty that we have always been, and always will be. We each have unique bodies, and unique stories to tell. Here, we will be telling ours, in faith that you will be encouraged to tell yours. So without further hesitation, may we introduce to you, The #SakaraBodyTalk of:
Erin Cauley, Head Designer at Sakara Life
Up until very recently, the word body brought about a lot of conflict for me, with an initial reaction of fear, negativity, and downright anxiety. When I used to think of my body, I couldn’t help but picture it as this separate entity from the rest of my being -- like it was an object I could look at and think about, work on, or mend, rather than seeing it as a source of empowerment or appreciating it for carrying me through each day or every feat of physical strength. I saw it as something that was holding me back. To me, it had a boatload of imperfections that everyone could see.
If I think back, my first negative thought about my body probably happened in the fifth grade, and it continued to become a constant thought in my mind as I moved into middle school and high school. What I thought was normal behavior or normal thoughts about my body were truly NOT normal or healthy. Did I think everyone was as critical of his or her body as I was about mine? Yes. Was that true? Absolutely NOT! I have learned that when you’re critical of your own body, it’s extremely difficult to understand how anyone else can be totally in love with theirs, and it's hard to comprehend the possibility of a healthy relationship with one’s entire self. You can’t imagine what it must feel like to look in a mirror and adore the person staring back.
It was just about a year ago when I was having an especially anxious “body day” and I began to really think about all of this again. After years of anxious thoughts with my appearance, I knew something had to change. I had to switch up the conversation I was having with my body, and as someone who works in the health and wellness world and understands the value of nutritious eating and exercise, I wasn’t exactly living it. I wanted to be able to fully embrace this life rather than “half” live it. I began to really question my actions and my thoughts, and I realized that if someone were to ask me WHY I was so spending so much time fixated on my body and its imperfections, I couldn't have given them a good, valuable reason.
After realizing this lack of reason for such body anxiety, I recognized something even scarier: if I were to focus half of each and every day thinking about my body and it’s appearance, that means I would spend half of my life focusing on just my body alone! The realization of this stopped me in my tracks. Why in the world would I want to waste half of my life fixated on trying to be perfect in this body of mine, to a level that has no real end goal? What exactly am I trying to achieve?
There is no written rule for perfection when it comes to bodies. Everyone is built differently, so why not just focus on making my body feel healthy, strong, loved and nourished?
Sometimes, all it can take is one moment of clarity to dissolve a lifetime of confusion, and I feel lucky enough to have made this realization in my 20s. I refuse to look back on my life and see that I spent half of it obsessing over the number on the scale, the blemish on my face, or the imperfection in the shape of my hips and size of my thighs. I deserve more than that, and I want more for myself. I want to look back and see more than a person who obsessively ran on the treadmill to burn the “perfect” number of calories, more than a person who monitored every morsel of food that entered their mouth. I want to remember a life of happiness and balance; like that insanely decadent dessert I had for Valentine’s Day and that just-as-delicious farmers market salad I made with my mom and sister; those dinners with friends and family that have way more food than necessary, and that sweat-dripping workout I did with my co-workers that made me feel so incredibly strong. I want to remember a healthy relationship with my body and my mind; where I moved my body each day because it felt right and where I ate that delicious kale salad and finished it off with a scoop of ice cream, because isn’t that what life is all about?
Have I totally kicked my past of a negative body image for good? The answer is a No, but I’m a work in progress, and aren't we all? Realizing all of THIS is for sure the first step in moving on to a different relationship with myself. I’m trying harder and harder each day to practice what I preach, because let me tell you, there are still days when I can’t help but notice the flaws or imperfections, and it can throw off a day or a night, but as long as those days become shorter and fewer, and as long as I am able to look in the mirror and see a positive long before I see a negative, then I think I’m on my way to loving and accepting this body of mine more and more.