My Battle to Feel Beautiful - In Winter

I know this goes against everything I've been taught about feminism, but here goes: I like feeling cute.

And not just cute: adorable.  Gorgeous. Radiant. Goddess-like. 

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Bicycling in Hawaii did that for me.  Yes, I was a sweaty mess, pedaling up steep volcanic slopes through the humid heat, but I could wear skorts and cute tanktops in the middle of January, and on particularly long climbs I could look down at my bronze thighs pumping away and feel beautiful.

This December, Alex and I moved back to the Northwest, near Seattle.  Our friends and family keep asking me, "How are you holding up in the cold?" and I reply, "Great!" Because I am.  I'm doing great with the cold. Not a single sniffle has escaped my nose, I wrap myself in wool and fleece and down like they're going outta style, and I'm doing great. But my winter struggle with self esteem is another battle entirely.

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I'm doing great with the cold. But my winter struggle with self esteem is another battle entirely.

These days, I hop on my bicycle in the cold rain, and inside all my layers, I'm toasty warm.  I also feel very hidden.  This colorful, neon, rain-proof blimp isn't me, I think. This isn't what I look like.  I feel muffled from the elements, which is the whole point of layers, but I also feel muffled from myself.  Where did I go?  Why do I feel like an overstuffed sausage?

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This colorful, neon, rain-proof blimp isn't me. I feel like an overstuffed sausage. 

Now, before we get all riled up about how I'm the cutest thing ever, and don't I know that, and why am I writing such whiny, self-effacing garbage, let's remember: self esteem is an internal battle.  How we see ourselves has very little to do with how we actually look. It's more about how we feel.  Everyone struggles with low self esteem at some point in our lives, and I mean everyone, even (and perhaps especially) the beauty queens.  And though I'm privileged to have an entire army of girlfriends and admirers who can come to my rescue, brandishing compliments and praise, these reinforcements can't win the war for me. As they say, it's my battle to fight. 

So, pale and hidden as I may be, I gotta love myself. 

In the dead of winter, it can be a real chore.  But self love is like a muscle: the more you work it, the stronger it gets and the easier it is to do it even more. Moving my body every day, and taking pleasure in that motion, is one of the ways I love myself.  I'm the kind of person who can fall in love with her kneecaps during downward dog, and smile at her wrists in plank position. Long walks take me out of the house, down to the windswept beach and grey foaming waves, where my impolite laughter gets yanked from my mouth by the storm. 

Riding my bicycle is a huge part of my self care.  I love that I can pedal myself to the grocery store in January. When I arrive dripping and disheveled, I secretly revel in that dramatic entrance. My fellow shoppers appear startled. Heads turn, eyes widen, and at least one brave soul will make a comment about how bright my clothes are.  Yes, I agree, they are bright.  I want you to see me, out there on the gray, sodden highway. 

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I want you to see me. But, if you can't see me, then I'd better see myself.  I've got to remember who I am, underneath this costume.  That's my job, as a woman and as a champion of self love.  

I'm gorgeous. Radiant.  Goddess-like. And I ride a mother-lovin' bicycle. 

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Olivia Round