Today we’re talking about 3 different, and probably new ways to think about your body that can help you feel better about it and you.
You’re reading the transcript of an episode of the How to Be a Better Person podcast. If you’d rather listen, click the play button below.
Listen to the Podcast Here
It’s part of a week of episodes on body acceptance that was inspired by a few things:
- The pandemic, when so many of our bodies have been going through a change. I have a friend who calls it the POUNDemic
- The fact that I went through menopause and my kids are going through puberty during the pandemic. Our bodies were changing SO MUCH and so were our thoughts about them.
- Just a lot of conversations with friends, who are also somewhere on the menopause spectrum, about finding our way to acceptance of this new phase of life and all it’s physical changes.
- Being mindful of broader movements that are guiding us to be more accepting of all different kinds of bodies. And knowing that true change comes from within and if we can re-think our relationship to and acceptance of our own bodies, we’ll help foster greater acceptance of bodies of all different sizes, shapes, physical abilities, neurological profiles, colors, gender identities, sexual identities. Whew! Just your average week on How to Be a Better Person, where we try to give a shit about being decent humans and creating a better world.
It’s just too easy to see your body as an object.
Something that’s separate from you, and that is easy to criticize. I MEAN, the thoughts that can pop up when you catch a glimpse of yourself in a window or in a photo.
Recently, I had this nutty experience of a friend seeing me in a documentary that she was watching at the Tribeca Film Festival. I had no idea I was in this thing–I had attended a rally outside the Supreme Court in early 2020 when they were hearing a case that had the potential to overturn Roe Vs. Wade.
I got approached by a couple of young women with a camera who asked if I’d like to be interviewed and I said yes, assuming that they were supportive of reproductive rights only to find out that they were pro-life and basically mocking everyone who was there to show up for choice.
So fast forward to a couple weeks ago when my friend sees this film and sees me in it, getting interviewed, and she takes a picture of the screen with my face in profile and texts it to me. And all I thought was – am I getting JOWLS?! HAHAHA this is what I’m talking about. We have to elbow out these unchecked mean thoughts with something else. And I’m sharing three of those something else’s today. These three alternate ways of thinking about your body just so happen to correspond to three major movements that are happening out in the world–body positivity, body acceptance, and body neutrality.
Option #1: Viewing your body as a beloved family member.
This approach is all about viewing your body with love, and correlates to body positivity, which is like being proud of your body in the way that you’d be proud of your kid just for existing, and wanting to celebrate them for every little thing they do.
Of course, maybe you’re not a parent. You could also think of your body like any beloved family member: Anne Lamott has written about making peace with her thighs by thinking of them as her Aunties. You know, cute, funny, fun to have around, even if maybe they’re a little eccentric.
See your body as someone that you want to take care of also helps you be gentler with yourself. You know, to tuck yourself in when you’re tired, to feed when you’re hungry, to comfort when you’ve had a bad day.
Option #2 is to start thinking of your body as your home.
This translates to body acceptance–which is being OK and even appreciating your body exactly how it is.
It may not be the perfect house or apartment, but it’s where you live. It gives you shelter, it houses all the many aspects of you. And it’s always there for you.
So if you’re thinking of your body as your home, you’re more focused on being grateful for the big and little things it makes possible for you, and less focused on the fingerprint smears on the wall or the chipped tile in the bathroom. You know that maintaining a home requires some chores, and you get a lot of gratification out of taking care of the little things. And if there are things you have to spend money on to take care of your home, well, it’s just part of the cost of home ownership and you can see it as an investment in your long-term security.
If accessing the positive emotions of love or acceptance when it comes to your body feels like too much of a stretch, option #3 might be just the trick:
You can think of your body as a used car. This correlates with body neutrality.
Meaning, your body is what it is, and you don’t put too much focus on it one way or another.. It may not be the zippest model around, but it gets you from point A to point B without a lot of drama. You fill it up with gas, you make sure the windows are rolled up so it doesn’t get wet if it rains, but you’re not out there every Saturday lovingly washing it. Sometimes the best thing we can do is just take a step back and let things be how they’re gonna be, and body neutrality helps you not be too preoccupied with your body, whether in a negative or a positive way. Sorta like driving a used Honda Accord or Toyota Camry.
Its not like you have to stick with one of these ways of viewing your body forevermore. You can switch between feeling really positive and loving toward your body, like it’s your child who just won second place in the talent show, and not really thinking too much about it, like your late model sedan. Or between feeling very accepting of it as it is and just enjoying chilling on its comfy couch, and between wanting to introduce your favorite uncle to your friends.
Daily Tiny Assignment
For your tiny assignment, what way of viewing your body do you want to try on, so that you don’t default into hating on it, judging it, or flat out ignoring it? Do you want to try thinking of your body as your favorite family member, or like your home, or like a used car? In other words–do you want to try on body positivity? Which, again, is feeling big love toward your body. Body acceptance, which is being cool with your body as it is. Or body neutrality, which is not really thinking too much about your body one way or the other?
There’s a time and a place for everything, so there’s no one right answer. For more help finding a new way to relate to and feel about your body, come back tomorrow, when I’m sharing something practical that you can do to start changing your perception about your body from the inside out.