body-love

Body love: my way from feeling ugly duckling to beauty queen 



“Real beauty lies everywhere”

What do you do when you feel outright ugly?

What do you do when the bag of skin and bones that transports you through life doesn’t feel like something that belongs to you?

As a young child, I find a pretty easy solution.


I kind of forget about my body.


It is there but at the same time, it isn’t there. It won’t listen to me anyway, so why should I listen to it?

I hate my body for not growing any boobs (I’ll have to wait until I am 15). I am jealous at my sister, because mother nature has endowed her with all the voluptuousness that I am lacking.

But when I was really young, there was not a worry in sight yet.



From 1 to 3 years old: how I look

Oh, that sweet toddler time when you’re swimming in a sea of happy ignorance.

There’s no body. There’s no me. There’s just sleeping, eating and being. In the pictures, I see a vibrant and strong-willed kid, not at all afraid of the camera.


happy-with-my-body

1 year old


feeling-beautiful

already making mudras 😉


happy-self

absolutely no fear to show myself



Where is the lipstick?

As a girl, I love beautiful things.

When my mother is wearing a new blouse, I compliment her on it. “Wow, that’s nice mum!”

We don’t really go to clothing shops. Most of the time, we buy clothes from a second hand market. Preferably super-sized clothes, so I can wear them for more than one year.

When it comes to beauty, my mother is definitely not the go-to person. She owns one lipstick and one mascara brush, and that’s about it. Slowly, my own fascination for beauty starts to dwindle.



Brainflight

From 12 years onwards, the love for my body is going downwards pretty quickly.

I break my jaw in three places and have to eat fluid food for 6 weeks. I loose quite some weight. In stead of little breasts sticking forward, I have my bones sticking forward.


body-awkardness

just home after 3 weeks in the hospital


I don’t really like my body. I want it to be different.

“Luckily”, I find a smart way to evade my complete lack of body love.


I retreat into my brain.


My brain is delighted. As a sign of appreciation, it showers me with a constant flow of high grades.

The advantage of this method is that I can bring it with me to university. Another advantage is that it delivers me a nice dose of appreciation, that my body won’t get me.

I am not aware of the disadvantages. I pay hardly any attention to my body. This way, I don’t have to deal with the pain of not liking it. But I also miss out on quite a lot of physical pleasures.

Next to that, it is much harder for me to feel where my physical boundaries are, because I am out of contact with my own body. I don’t know yet that this lack of body awareness will bring me into several awkward sexual situations.



The teenager years: how I looked

It’s very interesting.

You can see the uncomfortableness creeping into the photos. I see how I’m kind of detached from my body.


ugly-duckling-feeling

short hair, mum, why?


i-hate-my-body

kind of checked out


seventeen and shy



Accidentally bumping into the gold

It’s very nice to find a big case loaded with gold. But if you find it with your eyes closed, it’s really hard to find it back later.

At age 18, I suddenly see the body love light. The sun has bleached my hair into a pretty shade of blonde, guys are giving me attention, and I meet my soon to-be new best friend Tanneke.

It isn’t really conscious, but all of a sudden I just can’t deny my own beauty.


vibrant

my inner beauty wakes up


happy in my skin



Body love on a break

From 18 to 24 years old, I am in a relationship more or less continuously.

With two of my boyfriends I live together. With almost all of them, I become the queen of adaptation. Feeling into their wishes, anticipating their questions, and in the meantime sweeping my own desires under the rug.

One of my boyfriends is a macrobiotic enthusiast. We quit eating meat, fish, dairy, eggs and white grains. I already wasn’t the fattest girl alive, but now, I become really skinny.

We are active in spiritual circles. And it is all about our “inner world”, the outer and physical world seem to be of minor importance in these circles.

And yes, I make love with my boyfriends. But I don’t really how my own body really works. There are some beautiful moments in bed, but also moments where I am very far away in my head while my body is doing “something”.

And yes, there are also some moments where I really don’t know what’s happening. Like that one night stand I have in between two of my relationships.


I only end up in it because of one reason: I have no idea how to say no to this.


My oppositions are so soft and weak, that the boy in question simply sees them as encouragements.

My studies are going well, but my body is clearly pulling the shortest straw.


body-denial

where am I? PS this is not an “unlucky shot”, there are many photos from this time where I look like this.


unhappy-in-my-skin

not completely comfy in my skin



It’s time for tantra

When I’m 25, my current relationship is on the verge of exploding. My boyfriend and I haven’t had sex for 3 months.

I did a lot of emotional work, but the body wasn’t really included in it. Then a friend tells me about his spectacular tantra experiences.


Something in my body starts to tingle. I’m curious.


My boyfriend and I sign up for a tantra course. A whole new world opens up to me. At age 25, I experience my first orgasm.

I try out al kinds of sexy clothes. I start polishing my nails. I bump into one phsysical-emotional blockage after the other. And I release them.

In two years, I partake in ten different tantra courses.


tantra-body-awareness

my make is being done during a women’s retreat


The whole tantra journey is intense, and sometimes confusing and painful. But it is also a fantastic adventure, a garden of Eden where I can endlessly play and discover new sides of myself.

After two years of tantra, my body awareness has shifted 360 degrees. Just swimming in a pool already feels like heaven, because I feel every water droplet sliding over my body.

Moreover, I’m not afraid anymore of my own sexual energy. I have seen what beautiful things my body is capable of, and this has increased the respect and love I have for my body.



How do I work full-time and feel my body?

At age 28, I’m very busy managing projects at an online marketing agency. In addition, I create websites for professionals with my own company Shine Online.

I love working. I love dressing up for work.

But it is also really really hard to keep in touch with my body in the 9-to-5 hamster wheel. My breath becomes shallow, and all the computer work makes me rigid. Moreover, I don’t feel like I’m surrounded by the most vibrant people on earth. It feels like some of them are just vegetating at the office.

I often come home tired from work.


stress-body

28 years old



What the fuck, I’ll go to Hawaii

After two years of full-time work, I decide to quit.

I start living in a yurt, and enter a phase of total freedom. I do a 10-day water fast, some more trauma gets released, I practice “the Work” from Byron Katie for three full days, and I see how hilarious 99% of my thoughts are.

The results of my inner work? Maybe for the first time in my life, I feel truly and consciously confident.

A bit later, I bump into a wonderful wise and down-to-earth spiritual teacher: Bentinho Massaro.

I decide to fly to Hawaii, and participate in a retreat from Bentinho. In this phase of silence and completely being with myself, my old dreams get reactivated.

All of a sudden, I remember my deep wish to become a (super) model as a girl. Somebody scouted me when I was young, but the whole thing got cancelled last-minute because of a big scar on my chin.

The US seems like the perfect place to live out this dream. I decide to bring at least a great camera with me.

America is a lot about the exterior, and the three months that I will spend there are the perfect cherry on my body love cake. I realize how much impact your surroundings can have.


In the United States, all women seem to have walked straight out of a hair, nail or skin cream commercial.


The whole US adventure is quite amazing. And to me, it’s highly inspiring, because I come from a background of beauty minimalism.



Body love explosion

In the United States, I make hundreds and hundreds of selfies. I call it “selfie therapy”.

Every selfie is an invitation to myself to let my inner beauty flow outward through my eyes and body into the camera. No shame, no holding back. I also end up in two spontaneous real photo shoots, which is a great exercise for me.

I wear all kinds of crazy clothes. Nobody in crazy Los Angeles (which I go after Hawaii) will be easily startled, anyway. It feels incredibly liberating. I feel confident, beautiful, and really happy in my own skin.


i-love-my-body

i love the soft energy of this picture


beautiful-body

radiating in my apartment in Hawaii


radiating-in-my-skin

me on festival “into the future”



Body love: what is the key?

It would be complete nonsense to say that there is one key to body love. There are thousands. But still, one of them if very important.


Mix awareness with desire, and you possess the master key.


It starts with awareness. “Hm, I’m actually not quite happy with my body”.

Then, potentially, a desire follows. Or a curiosity. But don’t fall in the trap of wanting to change everything at once by forcing it.

My biggest “problem” was that I wasn’t even aware of the fact that I didn’t like my body. The disconnection from my body was too strong for that. If somebody would have asked me if I was OK with my body at age 20, I would have said “sure”.



Dealing with pain: 3 main ways

The main question might be: how do you deal with pain? This is very insightful to know.

Some people pretend they’re a neutral zen master around certain issues, while in reality, they’ve just swept everything under the rug. This would be me.

Other people, however, become all small and pathetic about issues. “Do you like my ass in that dress? No, I can see from your face that you don’t like it. I will never get the right ass.” They project their frustration inwards, and they hope that by pleasing they’ll get the appreciation they long for.

Then there is a third group: the angry ones. “You just don’t like how I look, because I’m gay. Stupid asshole”. They don’t project the fear and anger about their pain inwards, but outwards. This way, they try to avoid their pain.

When it comes to healing, the fake zen masters are the hardest nuts to crack. Why? Because they are the farthest away from their pain.

The “victims” and angry ones are at least aware of the fact that they don’t like their body. They are closer to their pain, and this can be an advantage in healing.



The exact road I’ll leave up to you

You are wise beyond any measure. Me telling you exactly which steps to take towards loving your body would be demeaning, belittling, and completely unnecessary.

It’s just very interesting to gauge where you are right now.

Do you get teary-eyed when you look in the mirror, because you are touched by your own beauty?

Or do you often have a little internal cringe when you look in the mirror, because you’re not pleased with the way you look?

Are you jealous at beautiful and very smart-dressed people (I was for a long time)?

Do you often completely forget to pee (this can be a sign of low body awareness or body disconnection)?

How often do you pamper your body? Sauna, a foot bath, manicure, facial mask, massage….

I wish you a beautiful beauty journey. And, as always, I am very curious to hear your experiences around this precious subject.




  • Aernout De Beaufort Wijnholds

    Such an insightful post, Ayla! Thank you. I do agree that awareness is fundamental. Everyone in their own time, though.