How did you learn to love your body?
That question came from a recent HARO query, and it made me stop and think, not only about the question but about the implications.
First, it assumes that most people have, at one point or another, hated their bodies. I wish I would argue with that, but it seems sadly true, at least for most women I know. I keep wondering what our society would be like if that was a false assumption, and people loving their bodies was the norm. It’s a lovely idea, but sadly, I don’t think we’re there yet.
The second implication is that those reading the question have moved past that and gotten to love their bodies. This seems like wishful thinking for many. Not everyone, but I have heard enough stories from older women to realize that for some, this battle against our bodies is lifelong. (I’m not as sure about men, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them had the same experience.)
All of which made me both sad and grateful to realize I fit into both assumptions. Sad for all those years wasted hating my body, and grateful to no longer be in that place.
So how did I get away from that?
It’s been a gradual process, but most of it comes down to recognizing that my body is not separate from it – it is me – then focusing on the good things about it, appreciating all that it can do, and remembering that beauty is not only about how I look in a bathing suit.
Because when you stop and think about it, our bodies are amazing. They are where we live, and what allows us to participate in this wonderful adventure of being. Each moment, for most of us, our bodies keep air flowing in and out, blood circulating, cells regenerating.
And think of all the things we can do! We can embrace loved ones, even if our arms aren’t perfectly toned. We can feel the earth beneath our feet and hands, no matter what age or what our skin looks like. We can cradle babies, laugh with small children and friends, drink in the smell of flowers, catch rain on our tongues, listen to each other’s stories, taste delicious foods as well as tears, dance and sing and so much more. Yes, our bodies are also capable of pain, and some of us have differing levels of ability, but everything we can do is thanks to our bodies.
I recently got a yoga video that has me start with deep breathing, and imagining with each breath that my body sparkles with light. It sounds a bit mystical, but when I remember that we are all made of stardust, then it becomes easy to picture my body shining like a night sky full of constellations.
I will admit that I don’t always remember to think this way. Even when I don’t, though, I do not feel any revulsion or angst about my body, I’m simply not paying enough attention to appreciate it. But when I do, a wave of love washes over me, and I give thanks for this incredible gift.