When You're Not Feeling the (Body) Love

Today I had a session with a client who has been on my schedule regularly for 10 years. She looks great. She is generous. She is kind. And though she is nearly 70, I regret that I’ve not done more to shape her wisdom on the topic of body appreciation. Nearly every session she chastises her own figure or that of another woman. She wishes for firmer arms and longs for a tighter tummy. I fear that she harbors some self-loathing that she projects unfortunately on to other women.

This afternoon she relayed a story about a stranger that she spotted in Costco in apparently unflattering clothing. She had told her husband to “just shoot her” if she ever went out herself looking so unattractive. I relayed the gist of the story to my own husband, asking him to please “shoot me” if I ever became so preoccupied with my appearance, and so hurtful to others or myself.

Just as no being is perfect, no body is either. No preacher is without sin, and no fitness coach is without cellulite (unless he’s a damn man! ☺). The only thing that might make me a bit different than you is that I’m under no disillusionment. I’ve had enough vantage points to see that even the most beautiful bodies are indeed beautiful, but perfect? No. Good photography, good lighting, and good angles make or a great picture of the model, but a real lousy perception for us the viewers.Unfortunately we compare our “behind the scenes” with those women’s “highlight reels”.

In today’s culture, it is easy to become preoccupied with our body’s appearance. But today, I challenge you to appreciate all that your body has done for you and still is for you. Your body is strong. Not just physically, but mentally, and emotionally as well. You’ve jumped over ropes and through hoops not just in your workouts, but in your life experiences as well. There’s undoubtedly been loss of jobs, finances, and/or love along the way. You’ve overcome. There have been days you’ve felt like you’ve run a marathon, but your body didn’t quit on you. It didn’t give up on you, even when our words and deeds would have more than warranted retaliation.

In fact, your body has not just endured, it has served you well. It’s given birth and nursed multiple babies. It’s been your eyes to view the most beautiful of vistas. It’s been your ears to cherish orchestras, choirs, and symphonies. It’s been your legs to play, dance, and travel. All the pleasures and pain you have experienced, you’ve experienced through this body. It tells of your life story. It is your fortress and your home. It deserves love from you.

I know in the “love your body” movement, it can be difficult to look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you love the moles, the rolls, and the dimples. But I also know that transitioning our mindset from one of self-loathing to one of appreciation sets up a much more productive environment for not only peace but for progress as well. When I appreciate my belongings, I handle them with care. When I appreciate my body, I likewise treat it respectfully. I don’t starve it; I nourish it. I don’t punish it with exercise; I mindfully move it because that’s what it craves. I don’t stuff it with food to fill an emotional void; I dive a little deeper to investigate what it’s really seeking.

I promise you that your body will respond much more eagerly when it’s met with a little compassion, grace, and appreciation. You may not love all that you see, but I hope you see that there is much to love.

Erin Henry