The Real Body Project: Unconditional, radical, unwavering love with Nicole Green
"Just a couple of years ago all the work of fostering self-love and body positivity started to feel embodied. I started to believe my body is beautiful no matter what."
Meet Nicole Green. Nicole is a life coach and Holy Yoga Instructor based in Baton Rouge, La. She shares many of her own personal struggles on social media in a honest and unapologetic manner. Nicole demonstrates BIG LOVE for her longtime partner and husband, Mike, as well as her grown children and step children. At age 48, Nicole isn't withering into old age, but blossoming into natural beauty. This beauty exudes from her recently adopted radical self love. This is Nicole's story....
What has your overall experience been in your body?
My overall experience with my body has been extremely difficult. I became aware of my body around 13, when I went through puberty. From then on I feel like I have given more energy to the way my body looks than any other thing in my life. It still makes me sad to think about all of the other things I could have done or accomplished. The interesting thing is that I really felt no different as a size 4 or 14. The self-loathing was always there no matter.
Has your relationship with your body affected your emotional or mental health?
My relationship with my body has definitely affected my emotional and mental health. Getting on a scale or putting on a pair of pants that could fit, be too tight, or a even little loose completely controlled my mood for many years. I could go from feeling fantastic to depressed in an instant.
How did your view of your body impact relationships? Intimacy? Social interactions?
It affected my relationships with my husband and kids because I am an emotional person and I don’t hide my emotions. They rode the roller coaster with me. I found in social settings that when I was heavier I felt more comfortable around other women. When I was thinner, I felt that there was distance. I often said to myself, “Other women like you more when you are a little chubby." Now I see I was projecting. The truth was, I was jealous of other fit women.
"Me at around 10 years old doing synchronized swimming. This was pre-body conscious. I loved being in my body. I was a wild one, swimming, riding horse bare back, taking off on my bike alone and riding all over town without a fear in the world."
Describe how it felt to be in your body as a child, teenager, adult.
As a child I loved being in my body. I was absolutely fascinated by it. I remember looking in the mirror at myself naked, pre-puberty. With fascination, I admired the moles on near each nipple and one near my belly button. It was like a constellation and I thought it was so cool! I felt strong and powerful as a child in my body. I loved to be physical, playing sports, riding horses, swimming, etc.
When I became a teenager things definitely changed. I began to be resentful of my body. I had some experiences that communicated I was "too sexual". I especially remember wearing a red and white polka dot swimsuit at church camp to swim. It was an appropriate one piece. Yet, I alone, was pulled to the side and told to put on a t-shirt because my body looked "too sexual". This is one of the numerous interactions I had with adults that contributed to my fear of my body and sexuality.
I continued this struggle as an adult. I feel like I truly began to heal a couple of years ago. My relationship with food has been extremely difficult since I was 13. I began binge eating, but never purging. This has been an addictive pattern for me until the last couple of years. I still turn to food for emotional support sometimes. I am able to do so in a conscious, non-abusive way.
"Me in my early 20s, newlywed, body obsessed. I was the smallest I had been since puberty. Starving myself and never feeling like I would be thin enough. I was extremely jealous of other women and my thoughts about this controlled my mood and the way I ate."
Did you have mentors that demonstrated a positive relationship to their body?
I did not have mentors that demonstrated a positive relationship with their body. Most body positivity was connected to the results of a restrictive diet.
What messages did you receive growing up about body image from media, peers and family?
The messages I received were that being thin was extremely important. Not being thin meant not being desired and ultimately being lonely. Additionally, thin women were superior to women that were otherwise.
What is your current relationship to your body?
My current relationship with my body is one of true love. Not fake love. This love recognizes that sometimes I fall into old belief systems. I can choose to love the part of me that falls into that trap.
It’s a daily practice, choosing love. It’s over and over and over and over. I’m convinced that there will come a day when my mind never questions the pooch or the cellulite or the wrinkles or grey hair. I will eventually love every inch of me without having to make a conscious choice. I’m not there yet, but I am closer than ever. I can see love becoming more and more embodied. This excites me beyond belief!
How has your relationship to your body changed for the better?
I find that I naturally choose better as I focus my attention on love instead of guilt and shame. I eat less because overeating hurts and makes me feel bad. I exercise because my body absolutely LOVES moving, especially dancing.
I am in constant dialogue with my body, asking her what she wants, listening for the subtle whispers. She’s so wise. I truly am in love with my body. Honestly, I’m amazed at how much pleasure she is capable of. I’m sad that it took me this long to develop intimacy with my own body. But, here I am.
"In my mid-thirties and miserable. I started a new diet every Monday and gave up by lunch time. I overate on a daily basis to the point of feeling sick. I was overweight but nothing extreme and I hated myself severely."
If you could mentor a young person about body positivity, what would you say?
I would encourage a younger person to choose love. Unconditional, radical, unwavering love. I would also tell them not to lie to themselves. To find what love looks like in each moment. Sometimes love is indulgent, sometimes it says no, sometimes it wants to push with effort, and sometimes it needs ease.
Become less conscious of what your body looks like and WAY more conscious of the subtle messages your body is sending. Develop a relationship with your body. Each day notice what is going on within. I highly recommend meditation for facilitating these conversations.
Always return to love. Even if there is a moment when love doesn’t feel like an option, choose love for the part of you that is rejecting love. Love can be a tiny seed that when nurtured will expand.
Check out Nicole's website:
From Beth and The Real Body Project:
The coming weeks will feature more interviews with courageous women like Nicole. It is my humble honor to present their stories to you. You are not alone. We have more shared experiences that differences. May you find healing as you see your story, fears, challenges and triumphs in the brave faces of others. Thank you Nicole for your time, energy, and wisdom.