Body Talk: Danielle Carriere
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:
Danielle Carriere, Intern at Sakara Life
I can drag myself in a million different directions when it comes to how I feel about my body. One day I am super insecure, and the next, I am prancing around my apartment in a sports bra because I'm feeling extremely confident. I’ve never been one to open up and share my personal struggles with people easily. I tend to be insecure about a lot of things in life and that is not something I am proud of.
I don’t have “a story” to tell that completely sums up my struggle with my body, but I have had, and still continue to have, countless moments of negativity towards myself that I am not proud of. There are times when I look at myself in the mirror and say hateful things, or get beyond frustrated about the fact that I workout so hard but never notice a difference. And there was that one time I monitored my food intake to the point where I actually got sick from the lack of nutrients my body needed and had to go to the doctor for antibiotics (<-- that doesn't feel good to admit.) Body Talk has given me the opportunity to compile all my self doubts and put them on the same piece of paper right next to the self-loving thoughts I have along with them. And you know what? Self love wins, every time. There is nothing better than being confident in your skin, no matter what size or shape you are, and every day I take new steps to being able to practice this fully, sans negativity.
Growing up, I had my own personal issues with my body, but they never seemed worthy enough because I saw some of my closest friends struggle so much more intensely. Their issues were life-threatening, so I pushed mine aside. I denied them. But I realize now that it doesn't matter the capacity of your self negativity; the fact that there is any at all is a problem on its own. We can't compare our issues to others's just because we believe that theirs are more extreme than our own. No one should feel badly about themselves, on any level, period, and that's something we all need to work on.
High school was definitely when I felt the worst in my body, and where a lot of these toxic thought patterns were born. I had lost a few important friendships and gotten braces. It was then that I began noticing all my flaws, and for the first time in my life, I saw food as an enemy. Today, I definitely still experience some form of body shame from time to time -- that hasn’t completely disappeared, and I'm not sure when it will -- but I have come a long way from high school in terms of how I view, and ultimately treat myself. Instead of focusing on size, I now focus on self-care. I focus on me, and not wasting an ounce of my precious energy on wishing I was someone or something else. I focus on the incredible elements that make me ME, and I go from there.
Every day, I am trying to fight some false ideal -- as we all are -- in order to fully appreciate what I do have, and get to a level of respect for my body and what it deserves: eating right, exercising, and working to be happy in my own skin for its own merits. I am fighting to not value my self worth on my size. I am fighting to not think about my next workout the second I am done eating a meal I consider to be an "indulgence," and to not see calories written up on a board at the juice shop next to a healthy smoothie and immediately second guess what it is that I want or need. I am fighting to be aware of these tendencies and remind myself I am worth more than that. I am worth more than a calorie count. I am worthy of EVERYTHING I set my mind to and EVERYTHING that feels good inside.
I'd say that right now is when I have felt best in my body. I’ve recently been practicing more self love in my life, and trying to re-direct any unhealthy energy as motivation to better myself. For me, self love is a recognition of how valuable my life is, and realizing that what I do with that potential does not even necessarily have to define who I am. I am more than size or skin-deep. The false satisfaction that comes from being obsessed with superficial body image is nothing compared to the power that stems from listening to my body and acknowledging my unique abilities.
If I could give any advice to girls struggling with body image it would be two-fold. First, practice listening to your body. This is one of the things I've done recently that has made me so much more comfortable in my skin. When I’m hungry, I eat. When I’m full, I don’t continue to stuff my face until I can’t breathe. My mom taught me that everything I do -- whether it’s studying, eating or working out -- should be done in moderation, and this has helped me tremendously on this journey.
Second, surround yourself with women who make you happy, and confident. It’s shocking the difference it makes when you are stuck in the wrong crowd. Friends, sisters, and women in general should not come together to damage and tear each other apart, but to build each other up. We are beautiful, smart, and talented beings and everyone should have a #girlgang that makes them feel this way. There is so much more to me than my body, and so much more to you than yours.