I’ve written about being fat before. I was angry because I had only just learned that I don’t have to hate myself or my body for being fat. I was angry because I felt like the world had been feeding me lies for my entire life.
I’m still a little angry, but not as angry as I was. I want to talk about how body image is more than just “love your flaws”.
Here’s a question: why does it matter what our bodies look like? What is the function of our bodies? Our bodies do not exist for the viewing pleasure of other people. That is not why we have bodies. We have bodies because we need something to hold our souls and our minds. We need a vehicle to move through this world in. We don’t have bodies so they can look nice for people. I really think if that was the case, we would’ve been created with eyestalks so that we could look at ourselves easier. (Not that I think snails or crabs have eyestalks for this reason, but you get my drift.)
Here is something else: it is not easy to start loving something you have been taught to hate. You don’t just wake up one morning and say, “You know what? I love my fat! I love my acne! I love my crooked nose!” It doesn’t work like that. You have to be honest with yourself. These things are so ingrained in us, I think most of us don’t realize we’re even doing it.
The first step is realizing that you don’t have to hate your body. The first step is to realize that your body was designed to take care of you. And everything it does, it’s doing it because it’s trying to keep you alive. That’s what our bodies were made to do. They have programming left over from when food was hard to come by. Nowadays, food is everywhere if you live in America. But our bodies are still afraid of famine, so they hold onto it, just in case. They’re trying to protect us.
The second step is doing all those things that you’re afraid of. This goes for more than just body image, of course. If you don’t like the way you look in shorts, wear shorts. Wear the hell out of those shorts. And when it doesn’t kill you, when it actually makes you feel more comfortable in hot weather, when it makes you feel free, then you will have the confidence to do it again. You can’t build confidence by doing nothing or just by thinking about it. You have to do the thing you fear.
The third step is to stop judging. I see a lot of “who cares what other people think!” type of stuff and while that’s really a great sentiment, let’s be real. We obviously care. If we didn’t, it wouldn’t be an issue. The real problem is that other people are making judgments about you and most of the time, they are uninformed. Most of the time, they don’t even know your name. They look at you and they judge you based on appearance alone. And usually, their judgments come from a place of shame and fear.
So start with you. Don’t judge people. Easier said than done, right? We judge people instantly and this, too, is left over from our bodies not keeping up with our changing world. We’re made to do this kind of thing in order to survive. But you have to train yourself to stop. Because guess what? That fat girl standing a couple feet from you is not a threat. You don’t need to protect yourself from her, so there’s no reason to judge her at all.
I’ve been trying really hard to do this in many ways. I used to judge myself by saying, “Why can’t I do *this thing*? Everybody else has no problem doing *this thing*!” And then I’d stop and say, “Wait. How do I know that? Do I know everybody else? Do I know anything about how everybody else handles *this thing*? No.” Another situation I’ve been doing this with is in the car. When someone does something stupid, my instant reaction is, “Idiot! What a jerk!!” Then I stop and say, “Wait. I’ve done that totally by accident. That person probably didn’t mean to do it.”
Everybody makes mistakes. Ain’t nobody perfect. And I’m dang grateful for that ’cause how booooooring would we all be if we all had the same perfect bodies and lived the same perfect lives. SNORE.
In summary, your body is trying to keep you alive, do the things you fear, and stop judging peeps. Loving yourself is not easy. It’s not going to just click one day and then BAM SELF LOVE ALL OVER DA PLACE. It’s a journey. Just like everything else in life. So I’m gonna leave you with my favorite quote ever, from my favorite haiku poet:
“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” Matsuo Basho
Also here are some amazing body image related Ted Talks: