I hate my cellulite!

Jun 16, 2020
Written by
Tanya Swink
Photographed by
Bryce Chapman
I

hate my cellulite. 

As I write this, I delete photos of myself off my phone. “Is that ME?!”  I still don’t acknowledge the defiant dimples covering my thighs and butt.  Out of sight and out of mind, I guess.  If I don’t have to see it, I don’t have to feel it.  

I have tried to starve them off. Smooth them with creams, scrubs, patches and masks. I bought anything and everything sold to ‘reduce cellulite’, a catch phrase that always caught me.

I tried working them away with targeted exercises, fat burning cardio and extra time spent to tone, slim and shape. 

There they remain. 

Like the nasty habit I just can’t shake.

I have been on a journey of self love for awhile now, 38 years. Looks like it will continue another 50 years, if I am lucky.  I am always running up against the challenge of knowing, learning and accepting myself.  I believe the day we stop is the day we die.  So may we do this with vengeance.  Run now sprinting towards your bodies, arms open wide, heart filled with love and the willing-ness to change the story in your minds.

I am a recovering anorexic. I was anorexic for 5 years, in High School and College. Driven by control, shrinking below 90 lbs., my body paying the the price.  I went through recovery and surpassed 180 lbs.  My emotions as fragile as my body as we tried to adjust, learn and love.  

I found weight training within recovery.  It connected me to my body like I had never known before.  For the first time I cared. Strength training taught me about love.

I took this to the next level in 2005. I hired a trainer, competed in my first bodybuilding show and turned pro shortly there after as a IFBB Figure Pro. 

I didn’t last long there.  

Drugs are often needed to be competitive at that level, they are an individual and personal choice. They were not mine and I lost something I loved.

Then started the real confusion.  Who am I? What am I ‘suppose’ to look like now?  I struggled with accepting my non-competitive body.  My preferred choice to deal, was to not deal with it at all.  Head in the sand, hating my body, uncomfortably comfortable with that story.  Surrendering and seeing no way out, powerlessly I accepted…

…I’m standing here now calling out a concept I’ve held onto for years. As I say it to you, I say it to myself just as much. 

I realize that saying, “I accept my body, cellulite and all”, has done nothing for me and my confidence around it.  It’s those well intentioned things we say to ourselves, that we never really feel.  The emptiness that persists, rooted in the ideal of “body acceptance”.

Merriam-Webster defines acceptance as: the act of accepting something or someone: the fact of being accepted: APPROVAL. 

So when I hear body acceptance, what I really hear is body approval.  Approval triggers feelings of judgment. I’m forced into deciding that something related to my body, like cellulite, is either good or bad. An agreement to measure it against a standard.

Who’s standard? Not mine.

I’m done measuring.

Instead of using our energy in a self proclaimed war. Lets use our energy learning to BE, to change the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. About our body and the ‘shoulds’ that bury it.  Vailed by a cloud of standards that don’t apply and don’t belong.  Advertisements are the benchmark. Creating a barometer of beauty and criteria that force our hard-fought approval of self.

I have used up many many days hating my body. There is no peace in that and definitely no love. Circular conversations bringing me to the same searching place.  As if I’m 18 again and learned nothing. 

Enough.

Flip the script…its time for us to write a new story.  

Instead of “body acceptance” lets chase body peace. A body at peace no longer clings to the past or grasps for the future. It gets away from the, “I’ll be ready when” that inevitably never comes.  Peace doesn’t mean a surrender,  it means a state of mind without war. Like a vacation and feeling the sand between your toes. Away from the daily rat race, you find peace in the presence of a moment.  Pursue peace with your body. 

Light your fire, embrace the heat as you commit to changing your story.  Ignite and inspire those around you to do the same. Shed the weight of body shame that’s chained you down and held you back.  Enough. You are unwavering in your determination to find your peace. There is no better time than now, waiting for tomorrow will not make it easier.  

I leave you with this…my body simply is, period.  It has marks on its make up, telling my story.  A story of adventures in the sun, motherhood, injury, growth, new skills and the first and last time I rollerbladed down a hill. Dimples decorate my backside, they seem to like it there, so I’ll let them stay. 

I am pursuing peace right now. 

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