Guess What? You Don't Have To Love Your Body
Controversial, I know.
And right now I give you permission to not love your body.
EVER, in fact.
And I say this at a time when the body positive movement has never been stronger (hellz yeah!) and more and more women are learning that it's OK to love their bodies after years of battling it.
So why don't we have to love our bodies?
Because it's one thing to understand that it's OK to love your body and another to actually DO IT. And trying to jump straight to loving your body, as we tend to do as change-driven people, is like expecting to run (and win) a marathon without ever putting on running shoes.
Love takes time, more time than we ever want to give it, and it's an impossibly tall order to believe we can instantly love our bodies after years of dissatisfaction, indifference, disgust, and shame. And we want our body love to be genuine, right? We've all met those people who talk a big "body love" game and still only eat kale and lean protein, never miss a workout, or constantly suck in their stomach every time they sit down or pass a mirror.
We want to truly feel connected to our body, settled in our skin, grounded in the knowing that whatever form our body takes, she is OK and worthy.
And because body love is such a personal, ever-evolving journey, we often feel ashamed for not being able to love our bodies which becomes just as painful as our daily body harassment. Body love becomes yet another thing we have to do, another place where we aren't doing enough, another opportunity to compare ourselves to the graceful bendy, yogini in the front row who we're certain looks in the mirror and always thinks, "My ass is sah-weet!"
To expect to fall in quick love with your body like a new hot lover is to forget that you and your body have a very long history; a questionable, sorted past that takes time to unravel and heal.
So if drawing a heart around our belly button feels cliche and full-blown body love is far too big a leap in a single go, what can we do to feel better in our bodies and more at ease with ourselves?
We all know how to be loyal. We're loyal to our family, our friends, our romantic partners and yet we don't always full-blown love them all the time, do we? Sometimes they drive us crazy and it's hard to muster love and YET rarely do we revoke our loyalty. They're still our mother, our friend, our partner no matter how we feel about them in that moment of frustration. We are loyal to their status in our life because we know our feelings, if properly acknowledged and expressed, will shift.
Our relationship with our body is just like any other relationship. We cannot always love her or even get near love in those dark, most difficult moments, but we can always stay loyal to her.
What does loyalty look like?
When you gaze in the mirror and think, "ARGH, my belly pooch is out of control!!", ask, "How can I be loyal to myself in this moment?"
The answer may be saying, "Yes, belly pooch you are quite round AND you're still mine. Today I won't make you the enemy."
When your gut is acting up or your adrenals are fatigued, ask, "How can I stand by my body's side, rather than betray her with another round of blame and shame?"
The answer may be taking a few to do's off your plate, taking a nap or calling a friend for support rather than struggling through it alone.
Loyalty is also eating what feels good rather than sticking to a strict diet that's "healthy" and has you feeling stifled and restricted.
Loyalty is moving your body in a way that lifts your spirit rather than signing up for another marathon as a way to run away from the body you have towards the body you want.
Loyalty is looking down and saying "I choose you, body" rather than wishing for a different one.
Loving our body is no easy task (and after too many self-help books gets mighty trite). See if you can feel whatever it is you feel and then ask, "If I were to be loyal to my body, what would that look like? How would I act? What might I say to myself?"
Let loyalty lead and see what happens.
You may get closer to love or you may not. What will most certainly happen, though, is you'll have your own back, you'll be standing by your own side. And if that's not fierce love, I don't know what is.
Photo courtesy of the author