Last week, I found my way to an article on The Huffington Post called “Why Love Your Body Campaigns Aren’t Working.” Isabel Foxen Duke (she’s a coach) wrote the thing and I think she raised a really important point:
“…instead of simply shifting the global paradigm of beauty, we need to start exploring why those paradigms are meaningful to begin with, and challenge the validity of those beliefs.”
Amen to that.
If we want people to start loving their bodies, I don’t think we need to look at the bodies themselves. We need to look at the BELIEF systems around our bodies and particularly around weight. This needs to go on at an individual level and a societal level.
Individually, not using your weight or how your body looks as a source of self worth is a pretty big step, but big steps go hand in hand with a revolution. Imagine being able to look at your body as a gift–whatever it looks like–because it lets you live the awesome life you’re too busy enjoying to get distracted by anxiety over whether or not your cellulite is showing. That would feel pretty good, don’t you think?
So would getting weighed at the doctor and taking the number as just information—not a reflection of your self worth. Or buying the size of pants that fit you, regardless of whether they’re an XS or an XL–and wearing them with confidence.
I have a couple questions I think might help lead to what I’m getting at here.
- What if your weight was like height and you couldn’t change it?
- How would you talk to yourself?
- Shop for clothes?
Answering these questions while thinking about weight in a new way—as something we don’t need to worry about affecting directly—starts to hint at all that’s possible if we make that shift in perspective. If you start focusing on your actions and on what you can control and let weight be the by product, you have the freedom (and the responsibility) to do what’s really good for you. So, what’s possible if you change what you’re making weight mean?
I’d suggest this: make a list of the things you think your weight (or if you’ve already realized that it’s not your weight but the obsession with it that holds you back, then the focus on weight) is stopping you from doing. Look at that list critically and ask yourself, is there any reason why someone with your body shouldn’t have those things? My guess is that the answer you’ll come up with is no. Skinny people are CEOs. Fat people are CEOs. Skinny people fall in love. Fat people fall in love. Skinny people can go to the beach. Fat people can go to the beach. Etc. etc. Like the article I linked to suggested, there’s a learning process here and when we go through it we can start to look at our bodies in a new light:
“Eventually my relationship with my body did start to change… when I finally realized I can get the guy, the job, the cute clothes in the window right now, regardless of my weight. Women with “non-traditional body types” are not disabled from creating what they want in the world, we’re just taught that they are.”
This leads me to my next point. We need a change in how we look at our bodies as a society. We need to start valuing, displaying, and appreciating all body sizes and shapes. It’s not that we’ll never have a “skinny” person on the cover of a magazine and I don’t think we need to come up with requirements for how big or how small a person needs to be to be a model. I think we need diversity. I think we need to look at “Strong is the New Skinny” type campaigns with a critical eye and take them for what they are—a new method to get women to drive themselves batty chasing after another unrealistic ideal. Like I’ve said before on this topic, if we want to move forward, we don’t need a new skinny, we need to stop worrying about fitting into ideals (skinny, strong, curvy, whatever the flavor of the day is) that don’t serve us.
So, to answer my question, what’s more important than loving your body? Loving yourself, of course, and loving the way you live your life. Another quote from Foxen Duke:
“When our belief systems around weight change — that is, when we challenge the “meaning” we give to weight or body shape — our bodies naturally become our allies in achievement, rather than an obstacle to overcome.”
Think about it: our bodies are the instruments that let us live our lives! If we love our lives, doesn’t it make sense that we would love our bodies? And if we love our bodies, wouldn’t we take exquisite care of them?
What do you think your current body is holding you back from?