Loving Your Body – It’s So Loaded
In the ‘body positive’ community, a lot of emphasis is put on loving your body.
This emphasis makes it easy for you to believe that you have to love your body, in order to make peace with your body and food, to do the things you want to do in your life, and to take better care of yourself. In fact some people are quite insistent in their assertion that this is so.
I see quite a lot of women in what I think is fair to call agony at their inability to love their bodies as they are. They then blame themselves – not only for having a body they (and our culture) perceive to be unacceptable, but in addition, for their inability to love it. They see themselves as a failure on both counts. Talk about adding insult to injury.
The idea of loving your body is just so loaded. What does it even mean?
Does it mean loving your body as you love your child?
Or your lover
Or your pet
Or your friend, sister or grandmother (or anyone else, of course!)
I think we place for too high an expectation on ourselves around loving our bodies.
And far too much pressure.
And I wonder….
Is Loving Our Bodies Really That Important or Necessary?
Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for love, on every level!
I do wonder though whether pursuing love of one’s own body is necessary for peace with food, peace with one’s body and oneself. Could it be that pursuing body love delays getting on with living life in the way you want to live it? Does it perhaps distract us even, from creating, participating and engaging in the activities that inspire us and bring us to life?
Take the Pressure OFF
I recommend taking the pressure off yourself around loving your body.
Change your goal from feeling love for your body, to a sense of neutrality around it. In other words, work on dropping your judgements of your body. Work on neutralising the language you use when talking about your body, or any body. Be descriptive, without value judgements in your language. When you catch yourself thinking a critical thought, reframe it to a neutral, or – hey, why not push the boat out – kind, compassionate or appreciative thought about your body.
Create small challenges for yourself, so that you start to do the things you have been waiting to do, in 10, 20, 50 or 100 kilos’ or pounds’ time. Like wearing sleeveless tops or shorts when you’re hot. Or swimming in the sea or a public swimming pool. Go when it’s not likely to be crowded to begin with. Just take one small doable step.
Another Way to Think About Love
Instead of thinking about body love as a feeling (in other words, a noun), think about it as a verb – a ‘doing’ word.
You can act in loving ways, even when you’re not feeling the feeling of love.
Make a list of things you can do, that would be showing yourself love, whether or not you’re feeling the feeling.
Then do them.