Rah rah, love your body! All bodies are good bodies! Your body is perfect just the way it is!
It’s a welcome attitude in a society that’s constantly telling us we need to change our bodies in order to love them. Going against all the messages saying your body is the enemy, and actually loving it as is, is a huge accomplishment. And thankfully, finally, that’s become a more popular mindset. But as much as I think the whole body positivity movement is great, I have to say: it feels a bit…forced.
I’ve been thinking about the concept a lot this week, as it’s come up more often than usual. After unfollowing a Facebook page, having a conversation with a friend,and reading a blog article all related to body image, I’m left questioning what exactly it means to me.
First off, I’ll admit it. I do let social media posts promoting diet culture rile me up more than they should. I’m easily set off on a rant about why they’re WRONG and HOW DARE THEY push that mindset on people. Cool your jets, Em. Sometimes it takes a whole lot of self control to keep my mouth shut, especially when it’s someone I love saying the things enraging me. Like in this instance. The club (group? business? whatever you’d call it) I do yoga with announced its new class schedule and signup and all that stuff this week. Part of their message was about getting fit for the holidays and having “lots of opportunities to drop a few inches” with their classes. Is that necessary? Do you have to always push the weight-loss agenda? I know I’m not the only in your classes that could really, really do without that kind of messaging. I don’t want my safe, happy place of yoga to be encroached on by diet culture. To my yoga teacher, if by any chance you’re reading this: I love you, I love your classes, but – I can’t. I can’t see this crap on my newsfeed and not get really, really angry. Unfollow. Byeeeeeee.
My friend Amy and I have had many conversations around this kind of stuff – many of which involve us both heatedly ranting about how stupid and awful the diet industry is. She said something yesterday that I really, really liked. “Why do we have to be a work in progress? I’m great the way I am!” YAAAAAS. In terms of mental health and growing as a person, yes, sure, I’d definitely say we should always be a work in progress. But as for our bodies? Nah. We don’t always have to be trying to improve them. The body we have, right now, is great. Why is that such a hard thing to believe? Forget the idea that there’s always better, fitter, stronger, thinner, whatever-er to strive for. Love your body as it is, whatever it is.
That said, learning to all-out LOVE your body can be a struggle. Kylie, over at Immaeatthat, wrote a blog touching on that struggle, and made me think about it in a whole new way. She talks about how maybe we shouldn’t focus on loving our bodies – maybe we shouldn’t focus on our bodies at all. There are so many more important things to worry about and things and people to love instead of how our body looks, and she’s right! Maybe “body neutrality”, or “body acceptance”, is a more realistic goal.
(One of) the wonderful thing(s) about yoga is that it doesn’t matter what your body looks like. You can have literally any body type in the world, and still do yoga. Whether you have love handles or sticky-outy ribs or a wonky-looking knee – yoga doesn’t care. Your body is just a vessel that’s helping you move through the practice. I think that concept, in the outside world, is what Kylie’s getting at. What your body looks like has no bearing on who or what you are as a person, so why put so much focus on it?
On the spectrum of body hate/neutrality/love, most days I’d say I’m somewhere on the positive end. I don’t know if I’ll ever be fully at the love end, but I also don’t know if that’s even a reasonable expectation. I don’t know if we should all aim to love every inch of our bodies, or if we should divert our attention completely away from them. I thought body positivity and self love was the be-all, end-all, but it’s tricky. It’s a really personal thing. Maybe the first step is to get rid of some of the hate. Ignore the media pressuring you to lose weight. Tune out the messages telling you you’re not good enough. Quit trying to make your body anything other than what it is naturally. Accept it as is, and go from there.
You are not a work in progress – you are a masterpiece, just as you are.