Loving Your Body
A very interesting conversation has been going on in the tumblrverse about the meme of loving your body. Marianne Kirby argues that this meme can be problematic. Kirby explained her issues with the concept on her tumblr page:
It’s very much coming from a place where people want to feel good about themselves and to help other people feel good about themselves, too.
But it homogenizes bodily experience and feeling - basically it dictates the One True Way people are “supposed” to feel about their bodies. And that skeeves me. Because there are lots of reasons people have complicated relationships with their bodies - from trans identity to disability to body dysmorphia in general and so on.
I also think that for someone just coming off dieting or an eating disorder, loving the body is far too tall of an order. I found loving my body to be unfathomable at first and not something I could force. Feeling love for the body can be incredibly challenging, and really is not necessary in my experience.
However, I found that accepting my body is very important. For me, the ideas expressed in the Serenity Prayer, popular in recovery circles, are applicable in this situation:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
I spent many years hating my body and not accepting it as it was. I did myself a great deal of emotional and physical damage with that state of mind.
So, I had to make acceptance important. I could change some things such as becoming stronger or flexible. However, after 30 years of trying, I had to accept my weight as it was.
Additionally, I must accept my body as it is before I can make any improvements. I have to accept my current level of fitness before I can make progress, or I wind up injured and in worse shape. I have to accept my health where it is before I can address any issues, before I try to make it better.
To me feeling love for the body is not as important as accepting it and honoring it. Yet, I think accepting and honoring are forms of love – love the verb. We tend to think of love as a feeling – that ooey-gooey feeling we usually associate with the term. That feeling is wonderful, but fleeting even in the best of relationships or situations.
What is not fleeting is the choice to act lovingly, whether it be to ourselves or others. I can always choose to act lovingly towards my body, no matter how I feel about it. I can always choose to connect with my body. I can always choose to feed it and exercise it according to its needs. I cannot control how I feel about it.
So, in my viewpoint, trying to feel love for my body really isn’t important. Choosing to treat my body with respect and honor, to act lovingly towards it, is vital.