Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Positive Body Image Message

Sharing this positive project by the Harvard Rugby Team is a great way to give kids a visual of strong, healthy bodies that all look different. Lots of positive messages about agency!

Check it out at the link below

http://bit.ly/VYhoYr

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2 comments on “Positive Body Image Message

  1. Kate
    July 13, 2014

    This is fabulous. We need more women like these. Love that they did this for each other.

    My question is this: how do find a way to love a body that no longer is capable of wonderful things like rugby and barely makes it through the day? Before multiple chronic illnesses took over, I could say, at least I’m capable of X, Y and Z even if my body is very far from anything remotely “ideal.” (And by ideal, I mean at least a decent, healthy ideal, not even a media ideal.) What happens when you’re no longer capable of any of it? The demons rage harder than ever now that I don’t have the abilities to do X, Y or Z any more. How can you be body positive when your body continues to betray you in just about every way you ever hoped you could BE? I’m trying to find my way to answer that…one of the toughest battles of my life. I know where my head space is right now isn’t right, and I don’t want to pass this on to my girls, either, so I have extra motivation to find my way out of this, but I’m feeling truly stuck.

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      July 13, 2014

      Kate,
      Your question resonates with me so deeply. I don’t know if you’ve read my posts about my health issues, but after my third daughter was born, something happened (we aren’t sure what) that damaged and weakened my heart. It took me 6 years of living in misery before I finally got a diagnosis. I’m now on a lot of medication and have a pacemaker to try to help my heart function more effectively. I also have PCOS, which I was diagnosed with when trying to get pregnant for the first time. The symptoms of these two illnesses are sometime hard to tease a part, and often leave me feeling exhausted and frustrated. Living with a chronic illness is so difficult, and I have felt many, many times that my body has betrayed me. I don’t have any answers for you, and some days are much, much better than others for me, as I’m sure they are for you. But, I have been able to move forward emotionally and most of the time feel like I’m out of that stuck place. Here are some things that have helped me.
      1. My body is not me. It is a part of me, and one I have only limited control over. But there is so much more to me than this body. One of my teachers in high school used to call her body her “earth suit.” Thinking of my body that way has made it easier for me not to feel like my entire self is dragged down by it’s problems.
      2. I’ll do what I can do. Some days that is a lot. Some days it’s not much. And I’m trying to come to a place of grace for myself in that. There are days when my heart isn’t functioning well when I am overcome by fatigue, and I just have to go lay down for awhile. Thankfully I work with people who understand my situation, and work in an environment that is flexible enough that I can do that. I know it would be so much harder if that weren’t the case.
      3. As long as I’m here, I’m going to do what I’m here to do. I feel a true passion and calling to do what I can to make this world a better place, and I am bound and determined to do it, in big ways and little ways. Taking into account what I said in number 2, I know that some days are going to have to be days of rest, days of renewal, because my body just doesn’t work the way it used to. But on the days when I do have energy, I am determined to live them fully. That may sound trite, but I can very clearly remember making that decision as I lay there feeling awful and sad one day. I said to myself, “I don’t know how long I’ll be here, but while I’m here I’m going to do what I can.” That was a huge emotional milestone for me.
      4. I don’t know how my girls are being impacted by my health issues. I hope that they see these three things above and understand that sometimes life throws you a curve ball, and the choice you have is how you’re going to respond, how you’re going to live from then on. I hope they see me giving myself grace, and learn to be gracious to themselves and others.

      Hang in there, friend. You are not alone. The stupid earth suit can get messed up and slow you down, but that is not who you are. You are so much more than your body and it’s problems. I’ll be thinking of you and hoping for a way out of this stuck place, into the fullness of life, such as it can be today, just as you are.

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This entry was posted on July 12, 2014 by in Uncategorized.
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