You Don’t Have to Love Your Body to Love Yourself

You Don’t Have to Love Your Body to Love Yourself

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.

 

This article has 11 comments

  1. Thanks for this. It's true… why should I judge myself by the same shallow lens the world judges me with? I know that despite my outer flaws, there is so much more of me to be loved and valued. I don't love my body either… and that's ok. It doesn't stop me from doing and being everything I want to.

  2. What a great post, Shayna. I feel the same way. There's a lot of pressure and judgment already, so why add more? I don't loooooove my body, but I don't hate it. I'm happy — I improvement can always be made and I live as healthy as possible. I love your blog posts, by the way.
    My recent post Foraging for Edible Wilds with Kids

  3. I totally agree. Bodies are the vehicles to transport us around, and sure, we want to take care of them in order to ensure they can do so for a long time, but having too much of your self-worth tied up in it is dangerous, as is thinking too much about it in general. Thanks!

  4. What a beautiful post! I have never thought of it quite this way and now that you mention it, I fully agree with you! It is important to love yourself.
    I do love myself and I don't love my body.  There are parts of it that I like and there are many parts that I don't.  There, I said it!
    Phew! That feels good.
    My recent post HUGE @OliversLabels Camp Labels Sale {plus Giveaway}

  5. I like this line of thought. I found myself nodding to what I was reading. Thanks 🙂

  6. GREAT post Shayna I went from the skinny kid and young adult to the no so much adult. At a certain point I need to accept it or change it, I am more than my body. My bikini days are gone, but that doesn't mean I can't be stylish and like my style without perfection. Great message for daughters! 

  7. Fantastic post Shayna Jamie Murray. I spent a lot of time hating my body. Hating that Crohn's made me crazy sick and I had no control over the body that was always vomiting or experiencing the other lovely digestive ailment nobody talks about. I came to see it as a vehicle well before we were parents and I worked harder to strengthen my mind. Now I think we get along most days and I work harder than ever to make my body strong. The older I get the more comfortable I am with all of me, head to toe. 
    My recent post St. Patrick’s Day Word Search Free Printable

  8. I'm super PROUD of my body for taking the knocks it has and still carrying me around. I LOVE my body for it…I would choose to change certain things but don't agonize over them. Dig the message you're sharing
    My recent post Gifts of Recovery and Mindful Living with @24aveRecovery

  9. I love the message you're sharing with your daughter. Respect rocks!

  10. I have almost lost 10 pounds, 10 pounds that were really driving me mental. I'm feeling better health wise and more comfortable in my clothes and then yesterday as I was looking in the mirror I realized my butt is flat. That's when it hit me, it is always going to be something. My heavens. I have stretch marks and cellulite and I could care less about that, but if I get a butt and a "hot bod" I bet it would. I think we get in our heads too often but I agree with this post. Sometimes I feel awesome, other days I stay in sweats and pout.

    Respecting our body is where I am trying to get my head at right now, treating it right and being an example for my child as in choice: choice to eat healthier and a choice to live in moderation every once in a while. We have to be human too 🙂
    My recent post Kids Clothes Made With Quality Home Grown Apparel + #giveaway

  11. Great post. This is true for me as well. I struggled with my appearance for many years and it has only been in the past 5 years or so that I have come to terms with what I have. I will never have a toned, buff, hairless body with abs of steel. I do have a body that works well, helps me get stuff done and doesn't feel like it is falling apart every day. I do respect it and hope that I too can pass this on to my daughters.
    My recent post The Man’s Guide to Buying Stockings

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