I got asked to speak about the topic of Body Love recently. And, when I heard this, my first reaction was not a loving one. In fact, I’m quite certain that a few expletives and shame-driven comments were uttered by my brain... (I’m sorry heart!)
In truth, ‘body love’ is still a concept I am struggling to understand and practice. (You too?) Body love does not come naturally to me. In fact, even after years of yoga, therapy and tremendous success (hello Olympics!), I still struggle to accept my body. I still have days where I avoid the mirror or consider yoga pants meeting appropriate attire. And, I’ve come to realize that this is okay! Body love is an active practice. And, if I want to love my body, I need to confront the hard thoughts too.
What Does ‘Body Love’ Mean?
Janelle Burley Hofmann wrote about body love in the Huffington Post. She stated:
“I must check in, ask questions, take the time. I must build and undo. I must be open and genuine. I must but willing to dance naked in the mirror, resist the urge to see all the ways five babies have changed me, and stare straight into my reflection with love.”
I just love this! For me, this is one of the most accurate descriptions of body love that I have read. Body love is not a denial of our body; body love is a confrontation of it! Body love is a willingness to be in trenches with our form and not have to ‘fix’ it. Body love is an active choice to see past a judgmental mind.
Why Needing To Practice Body Love Is Okay
Choosing nourishing thoughts about your physical form can be a hard one! Nourishing thoughts are especially hard to come by when you’ve been feeding your mind-body a diet of ‘should’, ‘bad’, ‘wobbly’, ‘ugly’ … you get the idea. Next to these narratives, a nourishing storyline might not sit well. It can be extremely difficult to digest your own acceptance when you’ve made a habit of feeding yourself judgements.
I usually cringe when someone says: ‘love your body!’. It’s never that simple. (Sorry!) But, not knowing how to love your body sometimes is okay. Think about it-- if your body has become the scapegoat for your insecurities and vulnerabilities, then confronting this (and offering compassion!) will probably stink. Choosing to love the thing you’ve (falsely) made the ‘problem’ will likely be the most uncomfortable choice you’ve made in a while. But remember, it’s uncomfortable because it matters. Your acceptance from you to you matters!
The opposite of judgement is acceptance. And, acceptance is a daily practice. And, here’s the best part! You can practice body love without always loving your body. (You, like me, might have too...) Remember, your body (yes yours!) deserves YOUR sweetness now. As it is. You deserve to not take things out on your body.
Sometimes, we cannot think ourselves into a different mindset; we have to practice our way to love. So, go, smile at your lovely, unique body!