It’s a sad, alarming reality—that our society trains us to be masterful body critics, constantly making us aware of the flaws we need to be on the lookout for, constantly reminding us of the singular beauty ideal we must fit into, constantly telling us to accept ourselves unconditionally….well, unless we have a single ounce of fat on our stomachs or our thigh gap is not large enough or our skin isn’t light enough or our eyes aren’t blue enough or our abs aren’t defined enough (and the list goes on and on forever). It’s no wonder that speaking negatively about our bodies has become as automatic of an act as breathing in the presence of oxygen or laughing when tickled, an ingrained part of our collective human nature. When we are constantly bombarded with and exposed to advertisements telling us to “wear a SKIM to keep our tummy tucked in” or “consume these magical gummies for weight loss,” how can we not become hypersensitive to the aspects of our bodies that need adjusting? How can we possibly stare deeply into the mirror and focus on the miracle that is the human body instead of the stretch marks that exude imperfection? How can we stop incessantly comparing ourselves to others, mindlessly complaining that our skin is too oily or our hair is too frizzy or our jean size is too big for our liking, and instead emBODY love?
Our Appearance Does Not Equal Our Worth
Well, for starters, we must above all else remember that every being on this earth has a value that lies far deeper than the skin. We are often so preoccupied focusing on our superficial faults that we forget to acknowledge all our truly brilliant traits that make us who we are. Instead of solely focusing on changing our own bodies, we should remember that inside all of us lies the power to create a deeper, more meaningful change in this world—a change that can truly shape the lives of others and ourselves for the better. One phrase I once heard in a podcast continues to stick with me whenever feelings of body shame suffuse through me: “Just because you have fat does not mean you are fat. You have toenails, too, but does that mean that you are toenails?” No. We should stop confusing physical characteristics of our body with deeper aspects of our identity.
The Loudest Voice Does Not Have To Be The Strongest Voice
In addition, it is naïve to think that we can magically reach a point of true clarity where the only voice in our head will be one fueled by body positivity. To be quite frank, with society constantly promoting homogeneity and the notion that there is a singular appearance we should all strive to attain, there may always exist a loud voice inside our heads manipulating us into believing that if we accept our bodies in their natural (beautiful) forms, we are merely settling and being lazy. There may always exist a loud voice screaming “the thinner, the better,” encouraging us to restrict our bodies of the love and nourishment they deserve. However, this loud voice does not have to be the strongest voice. The dominant message that is told to us over and over again by society, by the media, and by the people around us does not have to be the one we actively choose to listen to and act upon. Instead, we can feed that other voice in our head that reminds us that we are not just enough, but more than enough. By reminding ourselves each and every day that our self-worth is not dependent on the reflection that stares back at us in the mirror, we can effectively empower the voice of body acceptance—the other voice that whispers of hope and resilience, tirelessly combatting the toxicity produced by our culture—to be the one that prevails.
Your Body Is Capable of Amazing Things
We shouldn’t just stop there….on top of tuning out the voice that tries to persuade us to bash our bodies, we should try as best we can to treat our body with gratitude. Our bodies should not only be tolerated, but championed for all the amazing things they are capable of! What other vessel in this world holds as much breadth, life, and potential as the human body? What other awe-inspiring machine more closely resembles magic in this complicated world of ours, possessing the power to produce life from one singular cell? What other entity—despite all the years of neglect and deprivation it has been subjected to—continues to be there for us through it all, steadfastly fighting to keep our hearts beating, our blood flowing, and our minds thinking? When we take a step back and stop magnifying all the flaws associated with our bodies, we can truly be grateful for just how miraculous and loyal they are.
No One Really Cares!
Finally, I hate to break it to you, but no one really cares how much you weigh or how toned your body is except for you. The people who truly matter and will continue to support you through life—your friends and family—don’t care how tall you are or how large your waist is or whether or not your eyebrows are perfectly plucked. Instead, they love and accept you for who YOU are, not what your body looks like. They love you: your laugh, your humor, your smile, your personality. All the stuff relating to your appearance is utterly irrelevant. So, what function does focusing so much time and energy trying to change your appearance even serve? It will not make people love you any more, but may only hinder you from cultivating those genuine bonds and forming deeper social relationships.
In essence, no matter what our bodies look like, we are worthy of leading lives saturated with warmth, laughter, adventure, and love. There is so much more to life than thinking about numbers and calories and our blemishes that need erasing 24/7. Only once we free up our minds from being manipulated by the loud, intoxicating voice that tricks us into depriving our bodies and souls of nourishment and fuel can we fulfill our true potential and find our profound purpose in life.