Stop telling me to love my body!
If you cruise social media, watch morning news programs, or glance through magazines at the grocery store check-out line, there is a good chance you have already been told to “love your body” many times. Although I hate to admit it, I am just another one of those resounding voices.
I’m pretty passionate about what I do and the message I am trying to spread, so when I say it, I assume people feel or understand what I mean. That was, until I recently saw a new book by another public figure, and “love your body” was thrown into the tagline, as if it were an afterthought. **cue eye roll**
Then it hit me: that is likely how other people feel when I say it.
My brain started spinning. How do I separate MY encouragement to “love your body” from the many ways it is used to sell cookbooks, eating plans, health regimens, or yoga videos? How can “love your body” seem like less of a slogan or hashtag and be more about encouraging women to own who they are and what their bodies look like and rejecting the current standard that defines what is loveable?
I did some digging. I looked at all the “love your body” hashtags. There were a few great messages out there, some women working toward loving their body as it is. But, mostly, the hashtag was associated with fitness bloggers or magazines, healthy eating (featuring the classic green smoothie), or women showcasing their weight loss. Most of the photos that accompanied these posts featured white, slender females who fit the predefined standard. Even if the article focused on loving your body at any size or accepting yourself, the photos attached gave a much clearer message: Love Your Body so long as it is thin. Below is an example of the types of photos you will find when you google an image search of “love your body”. The message I believe most of us hear is to work hard, eat right, lose weight, THEN enjoy the benefits of loving your body.
That is not my message.
I want to be VERY clear about what I mean when I say, “love your body.” For most women, loving their body is the last piece of the self-acceptance puzzle. There might be several other pieces of their lives that they have claimed, worked on, and opened up to; perhaps it’s in the realms of personal relationships or work, or they’ve integrated a spiritual practice, or they’ve consciously worked on integrating self-compassion – but they just can’t get to a place where they feel okay in their skin. To me, the act of loving your body is the first one in rejecting the standard placed on women, the one that tells women they have to meet a set of criteria before they can feel good about themselves.
To me, loving your body is about giving yourself permission to be who you are (not who you think you should be). To me, loving your body means being free from the scrutiny of your own self-judgment and, in turn, releasing others from the bondage of those same judgments. To me, loving your body is the key to loving yourSELF, which is what this is all about. Maybe instead of saying “love your body,” I should say:
Don’t let others measure or define your worth.
Don’t let yourself be silenced by the scrutiny of an image-obsessed culture.
Don’t believe for a second there is a more loveable shape or size than yours.
Love who you are.
Perfect doesn’t exist. Stop wasting your time.
Maybe I should just say those things instead. Or maybe they too will get lost in a sea of slogans. For now, I’m not sure what to say or how to change the beliefs women buy into every day. So, I guess- for now, I’ll say, LOVE YOUR BODY… like, for real. This is the gateway to your highest potential.