Thursday, December 23, 2010
As often as I write here about positive body image, it is undeniable that I have bad days. Sometimes it is exceedingly difficult to look in the mirror and not feel bad about my body. I don't like those times-- I don't think anyone really does like getting down on themselves. You would think, maybe, that I preach about self-love on this blog enough that I wouldn't still be having days where all I can think are nasty thoughts about my appearance, but it just isn't true. I generally try to combat these feelings by forcing myself to recognize something positive, but sometimes when I'm in a mood like that, telling myself nice things just doesn't even seem bearable. So what then?
I have been trying to engage myself in a bit of a thought experiment. I have been trying to look at my body in a way that is completely devoid of judgment-- even good judgment-- in hopes of seeing it as a neutral object. In our society, bodies have a lot of meaning imposed upon them, but these meanings aren't really inherently a part of them at all. It isn't really inherently true that being thin is good and being fat is bad, for instance. When it really comes down to it, most of the feelings we have about our appearance are related to what society has conditioned us to think. Sometimes, going back to basics-- to seeing our bodies as an amalgam of organic materials, shapes, and functional parts-- can be a huge relief.
Sometimes it's nice to look in the mirror and try to be neutral. I try to look at myself for what I am. I have curves in certain places, bony bits in others. I have freckles and stray hairs. My body is the thing that carries me around from day to day, the vessel for my brain and my personality. It's one of the few things I always bring with me. My legs are good for jogging and kicking. My arms lift books and mugs of hot cocoa in the wee hours of the morning. My belly and my chest are outer shells for my inner workings, and I don't have to feel particularly anything about them. All of these bits make me human and tie us together, even though mine look different from yours.
Try looking in the mirror without thinking. When we meditate, we allow thoughts to pass through our minds, acknowledging them but letting them go until we reach a sense of peaceful mental still. Meditate in on your body in front of the mirror. Let the negative thoughts pass without engaging them for now. You are not "too" anything. You just... are. And sure, it sounds a bit wishy-washy now, but it feels wonderful to free, for even a minute, from self-analysis. Neutrality, peace, can be the first step in having the strength to love unconditionally.
I try to be neutral because neutral is more loving than the cruel things I can slip into saying. When you can see your body as a functional part of life and not something that is meant to be pretty, sexual, aesthetic, etc. you can free yourself of a lot of self-hate. So what if certain parts of you are large or small or not quite like so-and-so's? So what? Your body is an integral part of who you are, but your mind is more important to what makes you truly "you." Give your body a rest. After all, your body does a very important job, no matter what it looks like: it is the vehicle in which you travel day to day, sharing the contents of that beautiful, beautiful mind.
Do you ever try to be neutral toward your body?