Growing up, I overindulged the media’s portrayals of an acceptable body image. Size zero and thigh gaps whetted my appetite for body perfection. From an early age, I sought to attain the “ideal” stick-thin body that I saw day in and day out, online, in film and in magazines. I would love myself so much once I achieved that bikini body, which I craved.
I couldn’t wait to finally accept myself but of course, only once I met my weight goals. Naturally, I leapt headfirst into the world of dieting, feeding the industry that worked off of our insecurities. All manner of extreme behaviors ensued, either to continue the quest for that perfect body or punish myself when I fell short.
Each failure hit me hard and my perfectionism struggled with my incompetence at abstaining from food or binging when I finally allowed it. But then, in the midst of this struggle, a new appetizer arrived on my plate, in the form of “loving your curves.” It turned out that the whole skinny thing had become old news and now, we were supposed to embrace our body types. Brilliant. Not only that but, while I’m at it, I could dip into some fitspo, because the actual truth is that strong is the new skinny.
This constant feast of mixed messages has taken its toll on me and led me to really question the reasoning behind the obsession. Do we see our bodies as mere ornaments, something to just be seen and admired? When we die, is the goal to be remembered as the girl who was great at refusing dessert or the guy who had drool-worthy abs? Can we not just accept that there is no “one size fits all” and embrace what we have with which to work?
There’s an irrational link between self-worth and body image. Even some of the positive body image campaigns deliver a message that reinforces us to feel good about our bodies but they simply provide a wider spectrum of beauty. Don’t get me wrong, I support the promotion of body love, but I want to suggest a different angle. Why don’t we forget weight, size, curves and bones and consider function and potential?
Here’s why I think we should really value our bodies:
We have FIVE senses, yeah five.
Consider all of the amazing things you’ve seen heard, felt, tasted and smelled. Every single day, your body allows you to take in your surroundings, have new experiences and enjoy new things.
The ability to move.
Even just walking, is a privilege. People finish marathons, dance beautiful routines and travel the world on those two underappreciated feet. As an ex-gymnast I’m baffled as to why I was always focused more on how fat I felt in my leotard than the fact that I could do more pull ups than most men I knew.
An important little thing called breathing.
Are you aware of all the processes that happen in your body that you never appreciate? This one, specifically, keeps you alive.
Repair and recovery.
We put our bodies through a significant amount of stress and injury, and yet, it keeps repairing itself. They’re resilient and a lot stronger than we might give them credit for. How many hangover days have you spent feeling like death only to wake up the following day feeling back to normal?
(For the Women) Childbirth.
Why is the focus always on shifting baby weight? Why don’t more people freak out about the fact that two bodies created another little body? How incredible is that?!
Not to mention that the mother can feed a baby from her body and teach it all it needs to know as it grows. But somehow, the poor woman finds herself immediately under pressure to work on losing a few pounds as quickly as possible.
Our bodies are the homes of our giggles, tears, speeches and knowledge. It’s the means with which we connect with people and share our life stories. We remember great people for their wise anecdotes and teachings — their entertaining jokes and their compliments that made you blush.
Your body enables intimacy and closeness with the people you love. Do I need to elaborate?
Forget about the outward appearance and look at the entire potential. It's not about how your body looks — it's about what it can do.