Maggie Hernandez shared her inspirational story on our Wise Latinas Linked Facebook page, and we thought the world needed to see it.
The Journey to Loving Me by Maggie Hernandez
The subject of body image is so relevant not just for teens but for grown ups too. I wanted to take a moment to share my personal experience in hopes of helping others overcome they’re own body image issues.
I was trained in ballet in an RAD school in NYC and completed the children’s senior division with honors back in 1980. As you might imagine, I had the “ideal” ballerina body with the “perfect” turnout. I could kick my face, if I wanted to. Throughout my high school years I assisted at the ballet school and later taught adult ballet classes (in the 1990s).
After stopping dance for some time due to emotional issues (and I had so many, I was a total emotional wreck!!!), I got married, had a child and my body changed dramatically. I literally cried in front of the mirror, “I am no longer the dancer and the athlete I once was. Look at me. I’m out of shape. I have breasts and hips. I look like a regular person, a woman –eek 😩.” I was depressed.
My life took me to a place I never thought I’d be. I had learned a thing or two about personal development and written a book about it. So I knew this time around I had to work on myself and assess what I needed to do to bring myself back to happy again.
Top on the list… I had to embrace my new body; learn to love it or I’d sink deeper. Even if I wanted to transform it later, I had to learn to love it first because obsessing over its flaws would only keep those flaws closer to me.
So one day I looked at myself in the mirror and literally stopped myself from crying, smiled and said, “d*mn you look good girl!” Did I mean it? No. I was faking it to make it. I knew over time it would change how I felt about my body, and in turn change my behaviors and transform my life.
I practiced the “d*mn you look good girl” affirmation every day. In a short while I started moving again, I changed how I dressed — no more baggy clothes! I ate better, dealt with personal issues and started having more fun again.
After a few months of this and continuing to tell myself I was beautiful, I found myself transforming. I actually believed I was beautiful and I came to love my new body. My husband loved it too… hee hee! I became a glowing beam of self love and I believe the love I emitted felt good to be around and made me look “beautiful”!
Years later, I opened a movement studio (yoga and zumba) and our students suggested I start teaching ballet barre. I did it, now three years in. The women who come to my class couldn’t care less how shapely my body is.
What they see (I believe) is my strength and the passion I have for movement… spilling out of me. I push them, I challenge them, I remind them how awesome they are in every way! Ahhh, ballet can be soul awakening and healing.
Does it mean I don’t continue to improve myself and my body? Of course not. I continue to challenge myself. And I continue to look at myself in the mirror and tell myself how “gorgeous” I am every day!
All that I have to offer will not be hindered by any superficial means. That above all is what I bring with me to class every day… that and my womanly curves!