My masters supervisor is one of the smartest people I have ever met. People describe him as a range of things from brilliant to exceedingly difficult to follow, mostly because he thinks on a very big and theoretical scale and sometimes leaves people in the dust when he goes on a thought journey. Once, I got a paper back with a comment about how my writing can sometimes be difficult to follow because I go off on tangents like my supervisor. I took this a supreme compliment, but this kind of thinking and thinking and then thinking some more can make for some late nights just stuck on some issues. And can make for some very confusing blog posts, which I fear is about to happen…
Today’s question of concern? Whether or not writing a blog about loving our bodies (as a woman) is helping or hurting the situation.
I’ve often wondered whether or not the time I’ve spent talking about this journey towards embracing my thighs and appreciating my body could have been spent going to medical school, reading the encyclopedia, or getting a PhD in astrophysics.
Today, I got thinking after I read a post on Tabata Times by a man who was talking about his body issues:
“I love spending time with my girls outside, but I don’t love the pool the way they do and it’s for one simple reason: I hate my body. Does that surprise you? That’s probably not what you are used to hearing from a man, but we have body issues too. The difference between men and women is that men don’t get whole articles written on it like women do.”
The dialogue about embracing our bodies as women has, at least in my experience, gotten louder as of late. That being said, I am part of the blogosphere that talks about it, a voracious reader of books on the topic, and an advocate for all people—men and women alike—embracing their bodies. I’ve learned and continue to learn that the more I focus on what I can do, the more appreciation I have for my own body. That doesn’t mean that all of my body woes are gone. I might not have an eating disorder any more, but that doesn’t mean I don’t hear the “lose weight and be happy and have everything you have ever dreamed of and more” messages out there in the world. What I worry about is replacing that message with a “love your body and all your problems will melt away” one instead. If we’re on a body love journey, we need to remember that addressing the other aspects of our lives is still important. I think of all the genius females out there who might be using a lot of energy worrying about how they look—and I wonder what else could be happening if there wasn’t this need first to fix our bodies and now to fix the way we relate to them.
But then, how do we get away from this obsession with our bodies in one way or another? We have bodies. How they look is important, whether we want it to be or not. How we feel about them is also important, because it drives how we act—how we take care of ourselves and how we relate to others.
So on that question about whether or not it’s a misuse of my energy to talk about this, think about this, and work on this journey towards loving my body more and more and worrying less about how it looks, I am going to stop worrying about it so much—because that’s where I waste my energy. Maybe more women than men talk about this and maybe some people think that this is a way that women hold themselves back. But I don’t think that it changes the fact that loving our bodies and getting our relationship with ourselves sorted out is worth doing.
I’m going to have a body for the rest of my life. I don’t want to get to the end of it thinking that I should have appreciated it more, should have used it to explore and live more, should have loved it more. I don’t want to be constantly trying to change it, sending myself the message that I’m not “good enough.” I don’t want to take the easy road out and say that a little body discontent is “normal” and okay—because I don’t think it has to be. The more I love the body I have, the better care I take of it, and the better I feel about the whole situation. A combination of realizing and admitting that I care both about how I look and about how I feel about how I look—and then taking care of myself to make sure that those things are in place—rather than trying to be someone who’s “bigger than the issue” takes the pressure off.
I want a world where people don’t hate their bodies. Whether you’re a man or a woman and whether it’s okay to talk about it or not, I wish we didn’t need to. But, until we all get to a place where we appreciate our bodies more than we want to fix them, I think the dialogue about changing the way we talk about, relate to, and take care of our bodies is worth having.
What do you think about all the talk (especially among women) about embracing our bodies?
Are we moving in the right direction?