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.
The result of this relaxed mental attitude to my body means that I’m happy. I’m not as skinny as I once was, but I’m happy. I’m as slim as I’ll ever likely be, and it’s because I have let my body do the talking. I have let her lead the way. I know what she can handle and what she can’t. I know when to stop munching and when it might be wise to take a walk instead of driving. I don’t let my mind, with all its cultural expectations, lead the way. I let body do her thing, and together we have settled into a happy, comfortable, lovely place wherein we can both get the most out of life.
I’m happy that I am no longer on the merry-go-round of trying to be a certain thing, size, shape or type. It’s the biggest relief of my life. I can now focus on life as it happens, enjoying every moment without some lingering negative thinkings taking up space that should be filled with creation, art, love, family, pets, smelling the roses and the sheer joy of a good pizza. Our bodies are important, but not for the reasons our over-sexed culture would have you think. Give your mind some time off and see what happens. Let the worry go and live for real.
Our bodies are the homes of our souls. As long as they play house to our souls and allow us to exist in happy, healthy, harmonious ways they are utterly perfect. Vanity is but a whisper in the breeze and it is one that we should allow to bypass us. I will from now onwards conclude that I love my body, that it is a temple, irrespective of whether or not that temple is an old mud shack or one fitted out with full on six pack style altar.
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