Just like a codependent relationship, so much of American women's daily moods and confidence levels hinge on whether or not they feel good about their weight. Despite all the extraordinary things our bodies can do—heal broken bones, fight illness, grow babies, and shoot them out of our nether regions—we've been brainwashed to think that whether or not we look flat-stomached is more important than all of that. Ugh would be an understatement.
This month on Byrdie, we've been writing a lot about how to realistically learn to love and appreciate our bodies. We asked 11 body-positive advocates to share their secrets for silencing the haters; we had 15 women share photos of their cellulite to prove how beautiful and normal it is. But today, we Byrdie editors are driving the focus away from how we look and speaking about times we loved what our bodies could accomplish in ways that have nothing to do with weight. Want to feel unwittingly inspired? Keep reading for seven stories of body confidence from Byrdie editors.
When I decided my breasts were an asset, not a burden
"I have been through it with regard to my body—that's been well documented in both my mind and here on Byrdie. But there are some instances that bubble up in my brain when I was surprisingly kind and thoughtful of my form, even impressed. As an ample-chested woman, I've always been fairly insecure about my boobs. I look at super-low-cut dresses and shirts with envy, knowing I won't be able to fit my curves into them. Slip dresses are my dream—the perfect, flowing '90s satin style with nary a bra strap in sight. But that is not my reality, and, quite frankly, I've learned big boobs are the curly hair of the body—you want the opposite of what you have until you learn to love it.
"Such is the case with my own breasts, as recently I stopped trying to cover them up. I had a breast reduction nine years ago, so the scars haven't done much for my acceptance and appreciation of my boobs. But now, I've looked back at pictures and even at myself in the mirror, proud of my chest. It's a body part that is equal parts sexy and strong, thanks to my surgery, and I'm finally looking at them as an asset. It also may be in part due to the overhaul I did in my closet, replacing high-neck T-shirts with Reformation's romantic corset tops and the like. Maybe I'm into boobs now forever who knows." — Hallie Gould, senior editor
When my body could handle intense physical pain like a champ
"My body and I have had a really complicated relationship, but one thing that I truly love about it is its strength. I have an incredibly high pain tolerance, and my physical strength is much stronger than that of most people in my life. Maybe this is due to the fact that I started ballet at age 2. Maybe it's because I began to train for competitive sports at age 5. Whatever the reason, the fact that my muscles never fail to show up for me is something that I'm really thankful for. Whether it's a sprained ligament, surgery, lifting over 100 pounds, or getting a tattoo, I love that my body is always able to rise to the occasion without fear or doubt." — Aimee Jefferson, social media editor
When it bounced back after extreme stress
"I'm constantly amazed at my body's ability to bounce back. I know it won't be this way forever, so I treasure it while it's still able to. One particular instance was when I was subjected to subzero temps for hours in January (don't ask), and my body basically broke down afterward. I was miserable in bed, shivering and sweating, feeling more or less like I was at death's door. Miraculously, my fever broke, and the next day I woke up feeling almost back to full health. It was incredible, and I almost couldn't believe it. I felt so proud of my body in that moment." — Faith Xue, editorial director
When I pushed myself to run a half-marathon
"I felt proudest of my body after running my first half-marathon. Running 13.1 miles without stopping is no small feat, and I felt a major sense of accomplishment. The experience reminded me to pause and remember how lucky I am that my legs, heart, and lungs were healthy enough to do that. Now I've run three, and each time, I've been reminded of how amazing my body is to be able to push through a challenge like that." — Kara Cuzzone, Byrdie editorial intern
When I surprised myself with my own strength
"Just before the holidays, something sparked within my brain, and I became a workout person. I don't know how it happened. … I loathe cardio, so I've been doing mostly Pilates and barre, which has made me stronger than I've ever been. Recently, on a flight, I noticed an elderly gentleman struggling to get his giant luggage out from the overhead bin. I quickly swooped in to grab it for him, and a few men in the aisle stood around to spot me and asked if I needed help. I grabbed it, pulled it down quickly, and handed it to the elderly man. I felt like fucking superwoman, especially after getting a bunch of surprised looks from the 'spotters.' Yeah, I did that." — Lindsey Metrus, managing editor
When I nailed a new yoga pose
"Whenever I have gains in yoga and can do a handstand or something like that, I feel proud of my body. Yoga is amazing in general because it's an ongoing practice, and you learn more about your body every single time." — Victoria Hoff, wellness editor
When my immune system did me proud
"I've been traveling nonstop this year, which is an enormous privilege but also can be super taxing on the body. It is not lost on me how amazing it is that I've been able to take all these long, sometimes grueling international trips without getting super sick from interacting with so many new environments and people. I don't know whether it's because of good nutrition or mind-over-matter or what, but I am so thankful that my resilient immune system has been able to support all my adventures. To me, being able to have both my physical health and an exciting life is just the definition of #blessed." — Amanda Montell, features editor