Why I don’t love my body

Okay, so among other things, today is “love your body” day.

I’ve written before about some of the activism I’ve done relating to body image, and I know from my experience running the women’s issues club in a high school that body image is a huge issue for many girls, and from some of my everyday interactions that it’s still a huge issue for many women.

iheartmybody

(Click the image to go to one of the official “Love Your Body” Day websites)

It feels uncomfortable to say this after all of the work I’ve done on body image – I mean, I even have a t-shirt that says “I ❤ my body” – but I don’t love my body.

To be clear, I don’t hate it. I mean, to this day I wouldn’t say no to smaller thighs or cuter ankles (don’t laugh), but neither of those things bothers me like it used to. Sure, I’ll often be bummed that a particular style of outfit doesn’t work on my body type, but that fact won’t make me feel horrible about myself. And I’m just as likely to get embarrassed about my lack of lung capacity as I am about my almost-cankles.

But as I scroll through Tumblr and Twitter today, seeing posts by girls and women declaring their love for their bodies, I feel like I’m missing something. I’m missing that feminist pride I’m supposed to have in my body, chunky thighs and all.

And I wonder if that’s okay.

Posts like this on Tumblr always make me feel guilty for not loving my body.

Posts like this on Tumblr always make me feel guilty for not loving my body.

It always made me feel a little hypocritical to be running programs on body image when I couldn’t honestly say that I loved my body. And it kind of sucked to not have the kind of self-love that I was trying to get other women to embrace.

Like I said, I don’t have any kind of problem with my body, but to some extent I just don’t feel like I’ve earned my body acceptance, because I don’t know how it happened.

I’d often heard that when you turn thirty, things just seem to fall into place in a lot of ways. And for me that was completely true. When I turned thirty, I gained a comfort in my own skin and a confidence that I hadn’t previously had. Nothing tangible had changed; I didn’t have any life-changing experiences or mind-opening epiphanies. I just suddenly felt like I knew who I was and that who I was was totally okay, regardless of how I fit in with the people around me.

An earlier post about my occasional struggles with body image (also, pole dance).

This confidence had very little to do with how I looked. Having gone from a dancer with the metabolism of a 24-year-old to a high school teacher with the metabolism of a 30-year-old, I entered my 30s heavier than I’d ever been. And if you’d told me at 20 what I would weigh at 30, I would have freaked out.

But for some reason, around 30 I stopped seeing my body’s appearance as a defining part of who I am.

This is a lie.

This is a lie.

Almost overnight, the size or shape of my body was not a primary concern (well, except for the part where I had to give away all of the cute and expensive jeans that I’d grown out of). On the occasions that I get dressed up to go out, I think, “damn, I’m hot”.

And I’m having a hard time reconciling that with the fact that if I had to answer the question “do you love your body?” the answer would not be “yes”.

I think my answer would be something like “that question isn’t important enough to answer”.

Because to answer would imply that the question has more meaning to me than it does, because of all of the assumptions that come with it.

To be clear, I’m not making any statement about how anybody else does or should or should not feel about their bodies. This is a totally personal, naval-gazing, rambling piece on what I started thinking about when I found out today was “love your body” day. And if you’ve read this far without closing the window, thanks for indulging my naval-gazing!

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I do feel lucky that the feeling of “I’m hot” that I get these days has nothing to do with my size or shape. It’s the whole package. I may not love my body, but when I look in the mirror, I no longer see pieces of a body, or even a body; I just see me.

Some of the anecdotes on this page from NOW.org have a more nuanced approach to body love.

 

This question is waaaaay too complicated to answer in multiple-choice format, so after you answer the poll, please explain your answers in the comments! (Feel free to do so anonymously).

 

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2 responses to “Why I don’t love my body

  1. Still have my shirt and it reminds me of a different political framework that inspired my activism – in many ways, I think I am in a similar position – where I am no longer really concerned with whether I love my body and more focused on the fact that I have it, it is functional and healthy, gets me places, but isn’t the singular entity that defines me. In undergrad, the “I heart my body” shirts symbolized this critical message that I needed to believe and invest in, but I think now – maybe the point is more “I love me”… thanks for the thought provoking post!

    Like

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