I recently posted a picture of myself to announce my new business and website. It wasn’t the typical therapy photo of a thoughtful pose, in a non-threatening office, with my head slightly cocked in an ”I’m here to listen and not judge” angle. It was a full body shot of me in my usual sheath dress work attire, hips swayed to one side, with the gritty streets of manhattan as the backdrop. There was nothing therapeutic about the image. I chose this photo because it represents who I am today: A strong, confident woman, comfortable with myself. There was a time in my life I wouldn’t have posted a picture like this in a million years. I spent most of my life trying to avoid the limelight by hiding in my therapy office humbly offering my over-educated and well-analyzed interpretation of the world.
I don’t recall a pivotal moment when my perspective shifted. There wasn’t a big “aha!” lightbulb switch that made it all make sense. Reflecting back, it was a process that unfolded over time. It took lot of hard work and self discovery to get to where I am today, to feel comfortable in my body and own my power not only as a successful woman but a successful asian woman. Growing up in a small southern town, I didn’t have many positive role models who helped to shape my view of myself as a unique individual, perfect and good exactly as I am. From a child/teen point of view, I was the ugly duckling that looked nothing like the bevy of swans I was surrounded by. I struggled with an unrealistic view of what I looked like and did not want to accept the fact that I was looked physically different from my peers. I searched in magazines, TV, school. Nothing. I felt alone with my struggles and failures at trying to fit in and realized my attempts only further disconnected me from my true self. By caring too much about fitting in and pleasing others instead myself, I spent most of my energy worrying instead of doing. It was only later in life, through good friendships, mentors and therapy groups, I was exposed to women and men who clearly took the steps to find their inner badasses and generously shared their vulnerabilities with me. In turn, I took the risk of opening up about my own struggles, and finally found connection with people whom I could trust and relate to.
Many mistakenly believe that body image issues are only weight related. Body image is about to how people see themselves. Distorted body image is an unrealistic view of how you see your physical body. Like eating disorders, it is seen most commonly in women, but it’s important to know that many men also suffer from the disorder. The way you begin forming your perceptions of your body’s attractiveness, acceptability and functionality starts in early childhood. Body image issues stems from the messages we receive from the outside about how we “should” or “should not” look. In my therapy practice, I’ve treated the most beautiful and successful men and women debilitated from body image issues. It’s about time we break the silence and begin facing our fears, taking ownership of what makes us unique, and bring out the inner badass in all of us.
The most important aspect to remember about being a badass is to accept all parts of yourself. If you feel good about something (your athleticism, writing, art) take the risk of putting yourself out there and allow the opinions, envy, aggression, judgement of others to pass through you like a light spring shower on a sunny day. Remember, to be a BA, you need to consider the following:
- What other people think of you and say about you is really none of your business.
- Everyone will have something negative to say unless they’ve done the work of owning their inner badasses.
- The true BA will be too busy living life and getting things done. Besides, people’s reactions say more about themselves than about you.
- If you want good feedback, surround yourself with people you truly respect, the BAs in your life who have your back. Join a group. Groups can be a powerful tool to help you test out new boundaries and learn to accept all aspects of yourself and others.
The true badass knows that at the end of the day, you can’t expect others to respect you if you don’t respect yourself first.
Photo credit: Romer Pedron Photography