Making my way clothes free over the past few years has changed the dream I have of myself.
For as long as I can remember, I opened new chapters in my life with a dream image of myself. January 1 was certainly a consistent key point, along with the beginning of the school year in August. I would often spend time in deep reflection just before those periods. What was my weight? How did I look? Was I happy? These questions turned in my spirit, and I committed each season to addressing them with love. And yet, somehow, the dream I had of myself was never who I really was.
Whenever I wrote in my journals or sat staring out the window, the dream of myself was always white, thin and with long hair. This is something I didn’t notice until recently, within the last week. As vacation wound to a close, I considered what I needed to do in order to be healthy upon my return to work. Just before vacation, I had taken to unhealthy habits in order to cope with anxiety and pressure. So, the break was quite healing for me. In fact, I was able to let go of many unhealthy coping mechanisms. My body is healing and my heart feels at peace.
As I considered ways to continue balancing my wellness, the image of the dream of me resurfaced. White. Thin. Long hair. Happy. This time, however, I recognized what I was doing and I stopped myself. “Who is that person you keeping dreaming of? Why does the dream of you NOT reflect who you really are?”
Recently, I was listening to one of my favorite comedians, Iliza Shlesinger. One bit she did for her show “Confirmed Kills” addressed body image. She talked about how black women have an unshakeable confidence, which is something I’ve often heard. It seems that many people assume that all black women are confident in their skin and in who they are. Yet, the reality is that we are human beings just like everyone else. Some of us have eating disorders and body image issues. We wrestle with self-acceptance and self-love. Like any other group, we have a variety of body types. And just like everyone else, media and society impact us and we have to heal.
So, as I sat with the realization that the dream of me had nothing to do with who I actually am, I began to make edits. Indeed, this is what we must do at times: take conscious steps to change our framework. I took that image of a thin, white, long haired woman and gave her my locs. Then, I put my body on the image. Finally, I pulled up pictures of myself, recent and older, and put the visual at the forefront of my mind. “This is who you are. Darling, this is who you are.”
As I write this piece, I hold that image in my mind. The dream of me is no longer the most followed woman on Instagram or the most liked pictures. The dream of me is just who I am today. Of course there are things I want to do to balance my spirit. For instance, dancing has to come back. Dance is where I channel, let go and experience the freest most authentic expression of energy. I know how I want to feel after I eat, and I know that I don’t want to eat my feelings. Camping, water, nature all make me feel happy, connected and balanced. Meditation practice presences me to what is real, so that is something I must continue. So, the dream of me is no longer just a static image of someone I’m not. My dream looks like balanced content me.
Everyday clothes free living presences me to this practice. I see the initial dream from past socialization, and then I go stand before myself. I smile in the mirror at the woman in front of me and say, “I love you.” Doing my naked yoga practice always surfaces feelings of power, pride, strength, freedom, joy, appreciation and love. Sometimes I go through my photos of everyday cooking, reading, writing and cleaning to remind myself of my beauty and reality. And with that, I’ll get up and do something, anything, to get in touch with how I feel.
I can’t claim to have solved all of my body image issues, but the dream of me is becoming more real. And it’s a living breathing dream about balance, peace, conviction and love. It’s something I recognize not when flipping through Instagram, but when I sit in nude meditation. In that naked moment of non-doing, I realize that the dream is actually alive here inside of me and that it has been here all along.