The Joy of Finally Making Peace with my Body
About five years ago I had some friends over for dinner. The drinks were flowing and a few of us ended up having a ‘deep and meaningful’ in the corner where I confessed to hating my body with such vehemence that my girlfriends were actually shocked into silence.
Later that night, when I was cleaning up, I found a little note from one of them.
‘You are beautiful just as you are’, it said.
I kept that little note in my purse for so long. I would hold it and stare at it. Just willing it to be true.
Sadly, I am far from alone in this experience. Body hate is so ingrained in our society, in our families and in our day to lives that it’s taken for granted as something most people just live with. But you shouldn’t.
I finally ended the battle with my body last year.
It felt like putting down a heavy, heavy sword. It felt like peace.
Was it easy? Hell no. Is there a set recipe for attaining maximum ‘body love’ or even ‘body neutrality’? Definitely not.
These are some of the practices that put me on the path to developing a healthier relationship with my body.
Silence the Bully
Body hate feels like having the meanest bully at school just shouting in your face all day long. “Fat, ugly, useless, loser!!’ she screams. Her words leave you wounded, afraid, defeated. If you can learn to muffle her voice and see her for what she is — just an imaginary bully - you can begin to find relief. You need to visualise her (or him). Replace her face with that of a dear friend. Someone you love fiercely. See her smile and whisper soothing, comforting words, envelop you in her arms and say, “you are fine. You are good. You are worthy. You do not need to shrink yourself to have value.” This may sound impossible, but it’s a practice that you can keep trying and trying until it comes naturally.
When you hate your body, you avoid touching yourself in any way. But touching your own body is an act of self-love. The bully keeps telling you that you don’t deserve to feel close to a body that is so hideous, but, once she starts to back off, you can spend some time discovering it in loving ways. What you will find is that it responds with immense and grateful joy! Stroke your own hair, massage your breasts, masturbate mindfully, take time to put on your lotion and caress every curve. Say nice things to it as you go. Over time, you will start to find beauty and healing in the most unexpected places.
Clean your feed
If you’re serious about making peace with your body, then you need to start educating yourself on all the ways that society has brainwashed us into believing we need to fit into one very ridiculously narrow beauty standard. Following body positive activists like @bodyposipanda, @ownitbabe, @antidietriotclub and @i-weigh and just following normal everyday people who look like you, is a great way to swing the scales in your mind. Over time, continuously being exposed to body positive messages and images will start to break down your internalized fat-phobias and biases and make you realise how you have been a victim of a very broken society for far too long.
Be patient and kind
There are no quick fixes for this type of work. You literally need to ‘tape over’ decades of unrealistic expectations that began long before you were even born. But, as someone who has developed a healthier and happier relationship with my own body, I can say that it is possible. If you’re willing to do the work and confront some of your own beliefs. If you’re willing to feel a little awkward, uncomfortable or ashamed. If you’re willing to believe that you could be the kind of person who lives in peace with her body. Try to be brave enough to begin this process. There will be tears. Let them flow. There will be pain and questions. Try to look at them curiously and with compassion. If you can’t find love for your body, you may find a neutral space that feels more like peace, and that is worth more than you can ever imagine right now.