Loving Your Body In Spite of Your MindAlice Grist

Society encourages us to be healthy, but at the same time, the underlying message is that we should eat our weight in the products we are sold. We are encouraged to exercise, and at the same time slovenliness is promoted through a billion different electronic conveniences. We think of our bodies in terms of good or bad, attractive or unattractive, fit or unfit. Our body image is based around what our head thinks that our body looks like, and not enough on what our body does for us or how it holds our whole lives together. We love or hate based on appearance, we adore or detest our image. We struggle with weight and self loathing and we never stop to think outside of the literal body box.

Irrespective of what shape it is in, your body is the only place that is set to house you in this lifetime. You can have a nip tuck, you can starve your body or force it into rigorous exercise, but this is beside the point. The point is that we must attempt to value and love our bodies, but we so often don’t. We barely give them a second thought except to bemoan the state of them.

Like any naughty child, my body had seemed rebellious and unruly. But the thing is, it wasn’t – it was doing what I needed all along. It was giving me a shell, a home, a place to exist from. It was me. I owe it a lot of love, because my body is the only thing I will ever truly know. For 33 years it has been on good form, and even when I was creaky with pregnancy, it was bringing forth the greatest gift I could ever have hoped for. Our bodies are not fat, skinny, ugly or old. They are everyday miracles.

I have now figured out that my body was not rebellious, but my mind was. My mind was too quick to judge, too quick to compare my love handles to the smooth hips of some starlet plastered across the cover of an airbrushed perfume ad. We should switch the focus from our bodies to our minds and we should challenge what we find there. A bad body attitude is not the fault of your wayward thighs. Those thighs are what has carried your through this life, to all your good times and safely home again. If we can change our attitude, we may find that self-love is easier to come by than we think.

And yes, we can blame culture for helping screw up our body attitudes. Culture has so much to answer for in this respect. Sadly, culture doesn’t look set to change at this very moment. And yes, we should rail against the ridiculous images that send us insane. But the best way we can do this is sometimes just to drop out a little. I stopped buying women’s glamor magazines when I was 18, and I have never, ever looked back. Those things were bad for my mental health. To change culture, we have to change our inner life first. We have to recognize that the culture that makes us think a certain way, is, in fact, sucky and diabolical. Once we know this we are one small person closer to a revolution.

 

Loving your body first and foremost will help solve a lot of problems later down the line. If you learn to love what you have, you will treat it nicer. When you treat it nicer, your stress levels drop and when stress is low and life is good, things seem to fall in line. I used to worry myself silly over what I ate, or whether I had been to the gym or not. My mind got all upset and confused, every single day. In the end, it got boring. So I stopped the worry. I just took all that pressure off and instead flung myself into all kinds of real life pursuits like writing books, dabbling with art, getting pregnant, meditating, reading, chilling with the cats, being a family, cleaning the house. You name it, I did it, and I let each moment consume me so that there was no room for silly niggly doubts about how I looked or whether that chocolate really would spend a lifetime on my hips. Sometimes I go to the gym, sometimes not, recently never! I eat what I like, and because I go easy on myself, I don’t binge. I make up for bad days naturally and with ease, and it’s because I love myself that I allow myself some freedom, some appreciation and some time.

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  1. How refreshing! A great article. I especially love “Our bodies are homes for our souls.”

  2. Beautiful. I am trying trying trying to get this attitude into my brain…. and to release myself from years of self-doubt and body-bashing (not literally unless I’m on a dance floor and then I fling myself about with abandon!) Thank you for spreading the word of love for oneself. We need more of that in our culture. I can’t even look at the magazines that every week examine in detail a celebrity’s weight loss or gain. ARGH! We need to go back to our natural states… do what feels good, and not aim to be a certain size.
    drenchedinlife.com

  3. Thank you for writing this article. I completely agree with you.
    Very recently I was in a car wreck that almost killed me. Having survived and spending the last 3.5 months recovering has taught me to appreciate the miracle my body is, and to lay-off any ‘punishing’ tendencies that I may have had for not being ‘perfect’. I am 35, and I may never be a size 2, 4, or 6 ever again….and I am so okay with that. The fact that my mind still works and I can walk again fills me with more gratitude than any dress size could :)

  4. True, true, true, all of it so true. Thank you for your words. Now can we just remove the picture of the model desperately holding her head? And maybe put a picture of a real, healthy woman there – looking happy in her own skin. ((: