This summer, I did one of the most courageous things a woman can do – I tried on bathing suits – and actually purchased two! We were going on vacation in August, renting a house for a week on the Atlantic and I wanted to go to the beach in a bathing suit that flattered my body type and felt comfortable. The last time I bought a swimsuit was about six years ago when I walked into Sam’s Club, pulled a $15.00 Speedo tankini off the rack and brought it home. The pattern was cute, but the cut, well, not so comfortable. In those six years, I’d worn it twice.

So this year, I bit the proverbial bullet and ordered seven designer suits from a high end retailer that was having a 50-65% off swimsuit sale, figuring that one of them would fit and I could try them on in the privacy of my home. Well, to my surprise and dismay, I didn’t like even one of them. Still undeterred, because I was on a mission, I went to our local TJ Maxx. After fifteen tries, I found two that worked with my body type. It was interesting to pull up a once-piece, loaded with spandex, and watch my belly and breasts move north. (Why aren’t bathing suits made with zippers?) The whole experience was a lesson in self and body acceptance and an opportunity to practice what I preach to my clients.

In the story “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, the evil queen asks over and over, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who in the land is fairest of all?” And every time she hears from the mirror, “You, my queen, are the fairest of all” – until one day Snow White’s image appears. There’s a lesson in this fairytale for all of us.

If we’re solely focused on our external selves – how pretty we are, how thin, how toned, if we’re worried about not being loved, accepted, or desired because our abs aren’t flat enough or our hips and bellies are too big, we’ll see other women around us (our sisters) as the enemy, as competition. We’ll worry, that in comparison, we won’t measure up. Why? Because there will always be someone else who looks better to us – if we come from that place of judgment, of self and others.

However, if we daily (or sometimes moment to moment) challenge the notion that there is only one ideal of beauty, then when we look in the mirror we can see a beautiful self shining through, one that is uniquely us, one that is a combination of genetic factors and a commitment to good self-care. I have promoted this for years and have seen it come to fruition in my own life and in my experience with the mirror. When I eat when I’m hungry (eating nutritious foods that fuel my body) and stop when my body has had enough (yes, you can do this too!) and when I exercise regularly, I like what I see in the mirror. Reflected back to me is glowing, vibrant, good health! Even as we age, if we respect our bodies by taking good care of them, we like (okay, accept) what we see in the mirror. Our bodies reward us for our attention with radiant, physical and mental health.

In addition to consistent self-care, affirmations have been so helpful on my journey to body and self-acceptance. Here are a few that I worked for me:

~ I am loveable exactly as I am.
~ I treat my body with respect, fueling it, moving it, and resting it appropriately.
~ I appreciate my body for all that it has done for me.

And try this. As you’re drying off after your shower or bath, talk to your body parts in a loving, gentle way, with gratitude. “Thank you, legs, for moving me through my day.” “Thank you, belly, for digesting my food.” “Thank you, arms, for carrying my burdens.” Appreciation for what our bodies do, not just how they look, goes a long way toward self-acceptance.

So… “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who in the land is fairest of all?” I am – and so are you!

Author's Bio: 

Ilene Leshinsky is a licensed clinical social worker with 16 years of counseling experience. In her Plattsburgh-based private practice, she works with women who desire more joy and fulfillment in their lives. Ilene’s BodySense program is open to women of all ages who want freedom from food and body obsessions and who want to develop a peaceful relationship with themselves. Look for her Saturday Morning Master Classes on her website. Ilene can be reached at 518-570-6164,; or