A Little Bit of Body Love
et’s start with a question – take time and actually answer this question for yourself! What is it that you love about your friends/family/romantic partner?
If you’re anything like me you’ll say you love them because they are kind, or funny, or a good listener or because you feel really safe when you’re with them. What you typically describe when you talk about people you love are the qualities that you love about them and these are qualities that set them apart from others.
Personality traits or qualities are to a large extent a choice – when we encounter any situation we get to choose how we react and when we have a consistent way of reacting I would say it becomes a personality trait. Because this is a choice and because it reflects conscious thought I think it makes sense that we love people who have qualities that we enjoy.
Unfortunately, there is a terrible hypocrisy that exists when we decide our own personal value or “lovability”. I would wager that most of us don’t base how we feel about ourselves as individuals on our qualities like we do for our loved ones, instead we base it heavily on our appearance or our body. We get a choice to be loyal, honest or thoughtful; we do not get a choice about our height, our bra size, our hip width, our thigh gap… but somehow along the way, we have begun to relate to ourselves as if we do. If these things don’t belong on the list of what we love about our closest people, why do they belong on the list of what we love about ourselves?
The terrible trap of relating to ourselves as if our bodies mean something about who we are is that we have so little control over most of our body, which makes us somewhat powerless in our relationship to ourselves. I’m not promoting being unconscious about our bodies to the point that we negatively impact our health – because of course this is something we do have control over. What I’m talking about is agonizing over the way our stomachs look, if we have cellulite or if our thighs touch in the middle. Unfortunately we have so little control over these factors as individuals and what it would take to force our bodies to conform to these ideals would be enough to make us crazy and would never be sustainable.
The beautiful thing about a body is that if it is fed what it needs to be fed and moved the way it needs to be moved it will settle exactly into where it’s supposed to be and it will be happy there. It will be almost effortless, never restrictive and easily maintainable. If you don’t find this is the case for you it would be worth exploring (perhaps with a professional).
Finding love for our bodies can be a huge and lengthy process but I encourage you to start now because there’s not really another choice; your body is going to be what your body is going to be no matter how you feel about it! In the meantime start paying attention to the feedback that you get about yourself from your loved ones – what is it that they love about you? This is the stuff you might want to start paying attention to because this is the substance of what makes you, you… and based on what people around you are saying, you’re pretty awesome.