Hello, friends. Want to do something radical today? Revolutionary? Decide to like your body, and follow that decision with actions and words that reflect body-liking.
Many of you have already committed this revolutionary act. Terrific. Spread the gospel, please, and encourage healthy self-image and positive self-talk. And maybe don’t read the rest of this post, since it’s not for you. Stop hogging it.
Many of you have not committed this revolutionary act. If you want to participate in the revolution, repeat after me: I like my body.
Is that radical? Is it just positively subversive?
I like my body.
A lot of people hate their bodies, and that is silly. We should reserve hate for entities that really deserve it, like war criminals and pedophiles. Our bodies, though, unlike criminals and pedophiles, are useful.
But that’s not where the focus is. Cultural focus is decidedly not on our bodies’ usefulness. The focus is on our bodies’ flaws. Magazines full of cellulite-free, photo-shopped (and thus practically fictional) dolls want us to focus on flaws. Focusing on flaws is a dangerous, navel-gazing mistake.
I do not suggest that folks neglect their bodies, fill their bodies with edible garbage, cement their bodies to a sofa, ignore excessive weight. Navel-gazing leads to obsession and boring people. Liking and appreciating your body, though, means taking care of it. Move it regularly. Lift some heavy stuff. Walk and run around. Engage muscles. Whatever works for your body, do that thing. Nourish and honor it.
I’ll say it again. I genuinely like my body. It’s a team of organs and systems, and it is slammin’.
My body houses top-notch internal organs. I’ve got lungs to die for. You should see these things**. They’re filled with little air sacs that interface with my blood to oxygenate all the delicious sangre. It’s dope.
My brain is a beautiful mass of grey cells and lumps, and I could not be more pleased with the way it fires neurons. Every day, just fire! Fire! Fire! Fire away! Ping!
The heart behind my sternum is another body part that is currently slaying. It pumps handsome liquid blood through my body every day. I don’t even have to tell it to. It just does it. It shows up to work every day. It never leaves work, actually. My heart has one job, and it does it relentlessly. So dedicated. It is a winner, this heart.
But Meg, this is absurd, you might say. When people complain about their bodies, when people say they hate their bodies, they mean that they hate the way their outer-most bodies look. Like, their legs are fat, or their bellies jiggle. Stop being willfully ignorant.
Willfully ignorant. Damn. That really stings.
I get it, though. I didn’t always think my body was dope and fresh and other words I maybe shouldn’t use because I’m white. When I was younger, I too wasted time shooting hate darts into the mirror and making vows to myself never to eat again. It was very healthy. I was a lot of fun to be around.
But over time, I realized how futile it is to hate the shell you live in every second of every hour of every day. Futile in an existential sense. Not futile if you’re stockholders in a makeup company or creator of an eyelash thickening potion or lobbyist for Big Anti-Cellulite. In that case, inciting body-hatred is productive. Lucrative.
Convincing a population to hate its bodies moves a lot of product.
For example, dark lashes are a current standard of beauty. Many people spend money to dye their eyelashes to look more subjectively beautiful. To pursue another arbitrary beauty standard, some folks bleach their assholes. (Neat!) Just as arbitrarily, I could bleach my eyelashes and tint my asshole. Just super, super dark. Inky. Luxurious. “Do you know Meg?” they’ll say. “That woman with the pale eyelashes and really, really, really dark asshole?”
What could we accomplish if we spent time cultivating strength and courage and independence instead of trying to occupy less space or smooth wrinkles or bleach our assholes? What would girls accomplish if we encouraged thought and character instead of skinny and pretty? What would boys accomplish if we encouraged thought and character instead of machismo and aggression? What if you could go back and replace the energy you put into fretting about calories & cellulite with reading and thinking and doing and being and learning? What if we said to women and girls and men and boys – what if we said to ourselves – “Be not preoccupied with bodies, looks, eyelash length, earlobe thickness. Rather: read, think, do, be, and learn”?
Let’s find out. And also, get a dog or cat; it seems like you could really benefit from a pet.
**I hope you never do. If you see my lungs and I’m still alive and they’re still inside my chest cavity, please call 911.