A friend of mine – an astute, genuine, young, beautiful woman – expressed yesterday that she believes “deep down, every single one of us loathes her body as much as she loathes the ones she compares herself too.” She was talking about this culture of insecurity and consumerism that advertising/media has created. A culture that encourages us (women in particular) to regard our bodies as something that can be primped, plucked, painted, and surgically altered until they’re perfect.
As an alternative – and as a follow-up to the last post – I’d like to offer that we might think of our bodies in terms of experience. For example: Say I look at my feet and think, gee, they’re calloused and rough and need a pedicure. Instead, I might look at them and think of all the miles and adventures they’ve carried me through. With the first POV, I’d feel distaste, even shame. With the second, I feel gratitude.
I might even give myself a pedicure because of that gratitude: because my feet have served me so well, I want to take good care of them. I’ll want to wear good quality shoes, not cheap heels. I might do exercises to build up the muscles in my weak arches, because if my feet are healthy and strong they can continue to take me on long hikes and stunning climbs.
Which is to say, btw, that rejecting media/consumerist culture doesn’t mean you stop taking care of yourself (or become a [insert big air-quotes] “dirty hippie”). It means you take care of yourself in ways that make you healthier and better able to take advantage of this life (rather than primping yourself so you fit someone else’s ideal).
So today, if you read this, please find one part of your body that you are grateful for. It might be your hands that allow you to type out your blog, or your arms that let you to hug your children, or your hips that help you shimmy. Sit with that feeling of gratitude, and experiment with whether you can extend it to other, less appreciated, limbs and curves and angles.