I know, I know.
Did you read that right?
That message sounds outright outrageous.
In an age that spurs body positivity and self-love, I must have gone bonkers to think that.
And a real deranged one to actually write it and put it on the web.
But stay with me.
I can explain.
Image source: Pinterest
I know that the world wants to poison our minds with the ‘ideal body image’ and shame any-BODY that doesn’t fit in.
So, what do we do?
We have body shaming come home to roost by showing it the middle finger and shouting a big F*ck you!
I am not going to lie. It feels good. So damn good.
But only for a while.
You see, whether or not we subscribe to the unrealistic ‘beauty standards’ espoused by patriarchy is one thing. But trying to force yourself into doing something you don’t FEEL because you want to kick patriarchy in the nuts another altogether.
IMHO, the act of pushing yourself to love your body even if you don’t feel that way, just to express and evince solidarity to a movement you do have the *feels* for is not right.
Again, don’t get me wrong. I love body positivity and I think that the people on the forefront of the movement are doing necessary and great work.
But loving your body (as wonderful as it sounds, for who doesn’t love the feeling of embracing oneself for who she is, in her skin) is a life-changing emotion. Something that either comes naturally or you acquire over time. Often, longer than you plan.
You cannot and should not force it. So, I guess what I am saying is (if you didn’t catch it already),
You don’t HAVE TO love your body.
Image source: Pinterest
You can spit out that ‘guilty confession’ and not feel guilty. Say it, say that “I am trying hard to love my body, but I can’t.”
There’s no shame in admitting how you feel.
And if you do feel shame, then the body positivity movement is eliciting a response (diametrically opposite to, but equally damaging) that isn’t dissimilar to the shame beauty standards propound. Isn’t that defeatist to the intent of the movement?
Of course, I am not saying that if you aren’t loving every curve on you or flaunting that belly button with pride and love, you can slide to the opposite end and begin to hate yourself. I am not asking you to starve yourself to fit into ‘desirable’ clothes or workout like a maniac so you can enjoy one moment of ‘exposed flesh’ in the spotlight. ALL I’m saying is don’t do anything you don’t feel.
I know, as a self-identified feminist, I have spent as much time willing myself to love my body and force out harmful, judgmental thoughts as the next best thing. I have spent enough time curating perfect looks to swell my selfie-collection and broadcast the confident #LoveMyself life.
But acting that way, simply, to prove you don’t (want to) hate your body is plain insanity.
Image source: Pinterest
Especially so when my freelance writing gigs make the whole drill of getting ‘dressed up’ for selfie time and then, sliding into my sweatpants, after an hour’s worth of precious ticks fly by in removing makeup, an extremely unwieldy way of practicing self-love. To be honest, I don’t feel that love inside anyway. I don’t feel love for my body. Most days that I am typing away furiously at my keyboard in my spaghetti stained sweatpants and a worn out tee, a grungy, messy bespectacled bun on my head, I don’t feel anything for my body at all.
In fact, my body isn’t a big deal, most of the time. It is a big deal when I FEEL the urge to look myself in the mirror and say, ‘hey you, aren’t you gorgeous,’ it is a big deal when I am running a marathon, pushing a child out my vagina, dancing my heart out or simply, playing with the kids. It is a big deal when it gives up on me- like runs a high fever or breaks a bone or displays alarming levels of cholesterol. But most days, it isn’t a big deal at all.
It is just what holds your life in- a vessel you own- just like your car or your home. You don’t feel ashamed about your home because, hey, someone else’s way prettier nor do you spend all day raving about how great it is because, you know what, f*ck the haters! It’s just there- it is yours- and you own it, good and bad.
It’s the same with your body. You gotta take care of it, keep it healthy, keep it happy and keep it running. But you don’t have to force it to flash a toothy grin when you stuff its love handles in a dress that’s two sizes smaller. You don’t have to please it with false assurances when it is happy groveling, down in the dumps.
Suggested read: Of loneliness and miracles: Why we are so unhappy
Embrace body neutrality. Embrace the freedom to slouch and wear sweatpants and scratch your butt and wear your hair, uncombed- without giving a tiny rat’s a*s about your body. Moments of body negativity shall come and go, just like moments of self-love shall pass by like that rare surprise visit from an old friend you’d lost touch with. You will feel glorious in how your bestie shall channel that ‘sexy lady’ she calls you and then, you will slip back into forgetting your body exists.
Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License
This freedom feels wonderful. On other occasions, when body negativity or positivity does you in, figure how to break out.
If you feel okay with them, by all means, stay. But should you not feel that way, you know what I’ve said- you don’t HAVE TO.
Your body is yours. To adore, to dump, to swear at or outright, ignore. The victory is not in unabashedly loving your body or vehemently refusing to hate it. The real victory is in allowing it to be whatever you want it to be.
Featured image source: Shutterstock