I didn’t set out to do something life-changing the other day. It just happened.
It was the end of a very long, very hot day. I came home, knowing that I needed some major self-care. The moves were automatic: I stopped, stripped off my clothes and jumped into my swimming pool. I cooled off with a few laps, grabbed my portable speaker, turned on some Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, then swam some more.
Within a few bars of American Girl, I felt my butt wobble. You know what I mean by wobble—that thing that happens when your fat takes off on a self-propelled adventure. And during that wobble, that blissful jiggle, I felt my cellulite bounce against the water. And with that, came a feeling.
“Whoa,” my brain said to my body. “What is that magical feeling?”
I then remembered a TEDx Talk I’d recently watched. It was by Virgie Tovar. (Side note: If you don’t know the wicked smart and funny Virgie Tovar, do yourself a favor and watch this right now. Then go follow her on all social media. You can thank me later.)
In her TEDx Talk titled Lose Hate Not Weight, Tovar talks about being four years old, stripping down naked and jiggling for no other reason than pure joy.
“My thighs and belly, my cheeks would wobble. My entire body would undulate like the water in a bathtub!” she exclaims in the presentation. “A source of relief and fun. A place I could jump into and feel held. It felt good. It felt so good.”
Tovar explains how that bliss was ripped away from her, during adolescence. But years later, during a girl’s trip to Jamaica, she returned to the jiggle. Every morning, a group of beautiful plus-sized women would gather on the beach, just to jiggle.
To me, that sounded amazing, miraculous. And as I watched Tovar’s TEDx talk, I knew—on an intellectual level, anyway—the importance of this, the self-love this represented. But even still, it wasn’t something I’d ever consider doing. Not in real life. Not around others. Not even for myself.
That’s heartbreaking to admit, I think. Even after all the self-care and self-love I’ve invested, and all the confidence I have in myself. Even then, the jiggle seemed too much for me to even think about doing. I didn’t understand then the healing I had yet to do on a cellular level, not yet.
But now here I was, back floating in my pool, and Tom Petty was singing that it was a great big world with lots of places to run to and something happened—something sparked—between the TEDx talk on my mind and my wonderful wobble happening against the water.
The jiggle. There it was. And holy wow, it was a good thing.
Because once I started the jiggle, I couldn’t stop! That evening, I spent hours dancing around my pool, embracing my wobbly bits. I took care to feel—to actually be in the moment with—my thighs as they jiggled, and my arms, and my breasts, and even my belly flab. I watched the way the waves around me moved as my body shook. I did somersaults in the water. I twirled until I was dizzy. I sang songs at the top of my lungs. It was all things glorious!
For most of my life, I was too ashamed to even look in a mirror fully clothed. I’ve spent decades pinching, prodding, squeezing my fat in disgust. Squishing it into lycra so people wouldn’t see it. Thinking self-damaging thoughts about the way each of my fat cells looked. Back then, being naked anywhere, including alone in my home, wasn’t even an option.
So how did I get from there to a full on jiggle? I’ve spent countless hours retraining my brain to think my body is beautiful. That my body—my self—is worthy of love.
This hasn’t been an easy process for me. It’s taken years. One very simple (yet not easy) technique I used involved self-talk while looking in a mirror. I started by standing fully dressed in a full length mirror, and then—while looking at my whole body—I would say, “You are beautiful exactly as you are today.”
The first time I did this, it felt really, really uncomfortable. But I did it anyway. I did it the next day, and then next and so on. Once that was no longer uncomfortable, I stripped down to my undergarments.
I then spent weeks telling my big ol’ blubbery thighs, and my underarm flab and my all stretch marks on my belly that they, too, were “beautiful exactly as you are today.” And eventually, I took off my bra and panties off and started it all over again. Wow! That last step is mind-blowing!
But here’s the thing. I did all that self-love mirror work and still somewhere inside of me, way down in my core, I still didn’t actually appreciate my fat cells for what they are. That is, until I jiggled them a few days back.
With the jiggle, I let my fat have fun—a fun it had never experienced.
In a way, the jiggle was a kind of forgiveness for me. For the past harms to my body; not only the harms others had done to my body with their words, but I the ones I had done to my own body out of self-hate.
I didn’t set out to do something life-changing the other day. It just happened. There, in the pool—as I danced and sang and twirled—I realized something important about the jiggle. And about my cellulite. About my belly and my breasts and my arms and my thighs.
It was wonderful. It was what I’d been telling myself in the mirror for months. It was me, every bit of me, and it was beautiful and present and happy.
It was loved.
 I actually had to go buy myself a full length mirror. I was an adult woman who worked in fashion and didn’t own a full length mirror in her house.
 If that phrase doesn’t work for you, try something that will. One woman I know says “I am perfectly acceptable as I am today.”