THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVING YOUR BODY
Before I write anything about body positivity and body image, I do want to make it clear that I acknowledge the fact that I come from a place of body privilege. This is not a term I have made up, but one that has recently been circulating the media and one that I accept the ideals behind, and one I would encourage you to look into further. I realise that I come from a place of ‘privilege’ as I am able-bodied, white, and aren’t deemed as ‘plus-size’ or ‘overweight.’ Because of this, I am not exposed to the same issues and discrimination that some of those identifying with those labels do.
I think it’s important, as someone who aims to speak openly about body image, that I reflect how I recognise these issues, and that I’m mindful that embracing a more body positive mindset might be arguably ‘easier’ for some to do so than for others.
On the other hand, I know that I shouldn’t be critical of myself for feeling negative in my body image despite my privilege, or let that guilt or shame prevent me from speaking out about this topic - because the fact is, despite our differences, we are all exposed to the media and the diet industry, and the ideals of ‘beauty’ that society has constructed - and remaining quiet about these issues won’t help change anything.
Whilst I can’t represent those others who are succumbed to discrimination that I am not, I can still speak from my own experience, whilst still helping bring awareness to the greater issues out of my reach. We are all entitled to feel what we feel, and to not feel ashamed of those feelings in relation to our circumstances - because everything is relative to our own lives - at the end of the day, we are all human.
A while ago, I wrote a caption on Instagram with the title ‘how to love your body.’ Whilst I still resonate with that caption’s content and still want to share those ideas, the overarching concept is something I want to expand on and shift ever so slightly.
What I really wish I’d written, is ‘how to accept your body.’
I think the idea of self-love and body positivity can almost be put on a pedestal in the social media community; something that seems almost unreachable and unrealistic, especially when its sometimes almost advertised by tiny models who fit those societal ideals, or pitched by a blogger alongside a new diet or workout regime.
I guess what I’ve realised is that before you reach this place of love for your body, you have to reach acceptance. And sometimes, acceptance is as good as it gets - and that’s completely okay.
For most, this idea of not hating, but not exactly loving, is in fact very healthy - because it removes focus from the idea that happiness is even at all correlated to your body image, away from the idea that you’ll only be truly happy if you love your body in every single aspect, if you learn to love every one of your perceived flaws. Which I’m sure we can all agree, just isn’t true.
The truth is, the way our bodies look shouldn’t dictate the way we feel, life is so, so much more than that. If you spend all of your time trying to shape yours in order to feel that glimpse of love for yourself, or if your idea of self-love is only built upon the fact that you’ve achieved what you wanted in your physique, or if you’re trying to simply magic this ‘love’ out of nowhere, when deep down you still feel a deep discomfort with your outer shell - well, you’ll probably find yourself forever searching for any sense of satisfaction.
I’m still learning to accept my body through all of those things I wrote about in my instagram post;
through viewing it as a body - simply that, rather than something to be objectified or scrutinised, rather than a marker of beauty or inner health, strength, commitment, self-control or discipline,
through placing trust in my body, reminding myself that has survived through all it has weathered, and that it will find it’s happy place, it’s ‘set-point’ as long as I nourish and take care of it,
through acting towards it in compassion, not out of fear; moving it or eating well because I know it feels good and does good, and not because of what might happen to its size or shape if I don’t.
Whilst cultivating an idea of ‘love’ for your body is great, what I really want to put across is that I don’t believe it’s required in order to have a healthy relationship with yourself, or to be happy in life. What we all need, in every aspect of life, is simply a little more self-acceptance. A little more compassion for yourself in the present moment; a little less of that critical voice that, whilst driving you to improve, holds you back from feeling completely whole inside.
This vessel is only temporary, and I don’t want to dedicate my life to trying to change it in order to feel more comfortable within myself, nor dedicate my life to trying to suddenly love something I’ve felt discomfort in for so long. Sometimes, putting so much focus on something actually stops you from reaching that place, because it stops you from seeing, from being. It keeps you blind in a tunnel vision, that whilst from a place of good intention to block out the bad, actually blocks out the rest of the light.
So, if I reach that place, I do. If I don’t, I don’t.
The outcome of this self-love/self-acceptance/self-esteem (whatever you want to call it) journey doesn’t matter. The future doesn’t matter. Accepting the present, is what matters. Because accepting the present, is the only way to truly be living.