I don’t love my body. I don’t hate it. Well most days I don’t. It is flawed. And no matter how many times you shove the “love your body” mantra down my throat I’m just not going to. And that’s ok. I don’t have to. It’s my body and I am free to feel however I please about it.
I’ve worked hard over the years to have a body that doesn’t make me miserable. I was the chubby kid who turned into the teenager with an eating disorder. So I’ve spent my entire adult life taking care of this body. Feeding it properly, keeping it moving and healthy. And I’ve done a pretty good job at it too. But it doesn’t matter how hard I try, or how much others tell me I should, I will never completely love it. But not loving it doesn’t mean I’m ashamed of it either. This body has served me well. It has some really good parts. It gave life. I like it enough to take care of it. To not abuse it. To carry it with pride. To respect it.
When you bombard women with the message they must love their bodies what sort of message are you sending for those of us (and there are a lot of us) that don’t? Are you not just creating more shame? I would argue that is exactly what you’re doing. I don’t love my body, ahh poor pathetic me. Look what society/the media/Barbie has done to me. I must be damaged. But I’m not. Well no more than you are. I just live in reality and comfortably so. Some days I feel sexy. Some days I feel cute. Some days I look in the mirror and think blah.
The truth is our bodies are not who we are. They are what gets us around. They are complex, awesome machines but they are not the US. We are so much more than these bodies that we live in. And I swear to you, that even though I don’t love my body, I am not a miserable, insecure wall flower. In fact, I am standing here (imagine me standing here) with confidence, without an ounce of shame, telling you that I don’t love my body. Accepting my flaws, living with them – not necessarily embracing them – is good enough for me. And not “good enough” in a just getting by sort of way. Worrying about my body and how perfect or not perfect it may or may not be is just not something that consumes a lot of my time. And from someone who has gone through an eating disorder and come out the other side let me tell you that is pretty damn great.
So what am I teaching my daughter about self image? Is it possible for me to not love my own body and teach her that she should? Of course not. And, once again, that’s ok because that is not the message I want to imprint on her. We are already teaching her how to treat her body with respect. It’s impossible to love without respect. Respect is key to any relationship, even the one with yourself. She is learning about nutrition. She is learning about exercise and being active. We teach her that her beauty (and everyone else’s) goes far beyond what her body looks like. We will teach her that it’s ok not to be perfect in anyone’s eyes, including her own. You will never hear me put myself down in front of her. I can find enough positive things to say about myself that I don’t have to fake it either. She will grow up understanding (I hope) that her mother is overall pretty comfortable in her own skin, flaws and all.
I will continue to treat my body well. In fact the older I get the better I treat it. Part of that might just be having a new and wiser perspective as I age, but a lot of it is because the older I get the harder my body MAKES me work to keep it fit and healthy. That’s just biology. This body, like any other body, is a constant work in progress. And I will continue to feel how I choose to feel about it and not bow to the idea that I’m less of a woman, less of a person, less anything because I don’t love it. I feel pretty good about that.