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A repeated refrain I hear from women, is that when they look back at old photos of themselves, they now see they actually did look good. The problem was, they didn’t realize it at the time.
Not only that, what I’d like to suggest is that they didn’t feel *allowed* to admit it.
Here’s what I’m getting at. We live in a culture where there’s a major *taboo* around loving your body.
ta·boo – a social or religious custom proscribing a particular practice as improper or unacceptable
Whereas it’s perfectly socially acceptable to deflect compliments, make subtle (or not-so-subtle) derogatory comments about how you look, and say downright mean things about your body in the company of others, in the same situation if you were to:
– drink in compliments like water
– make appreciative comments about your own appearance
– and celebrate your body as it is…
… you may feel apprehensive. And with good reason!
In our culture, openly loving your female body is frequently interpreted as arrogant, rude, insensitive or even delusional. As a woman in our culture, loving your body is just “not the done thing.” We’re conditioned to bond over our suffering and hide our success, first and foremost as it relates to our body image.
Why it is this way stems back to the rise of patriarchy, when the body became deemed lesser than the mind, and the clean cathedrals of thought were elevated as superior to the sticky, messy, horny, wanting body.
From my perspective, this is a shame and a crime, and it’s *got* to change. I’m not saying we need to see the body as superior to the mind, but just as it’s well over-due for men and women to be treated with equal value, it’s time for your body and mind to be treated as equals in your world view.
So while you may think you need to lose weight in order to love your body, here’s what I need you to know:
1. Unless you start loving your body now, even if you lose all the weight you want, you’ll be so entrenched in the habit of disliking your body that the seemingly-all-powerful shift on the scales won’t be enough to budge your critical attitude. You’ll still manage to find reasons to be unhappy with how you look.
2. Losing weight while hating on yourself simply doesn’t work. Why? To your female body, not feeling lovable as she is now and being constantly told she’s not good enough, is a source of stress.
And stress, especially when it’s chronic as these body-hating voices tend to be, causes your body to operate in fight-or-flight mode, automatically defending against the threat (in this case the source of the threat is your own thoughts,) by stimulating weight gain and preventing weight loss. Simply put, negative self-talk about your body has the same effect as over-eating–it makes you heavier.
Though you may feel locked in a double bind around this one, there is a way to escape this pattern.
3 Steps To Breaking The Taboo Against Loving Your Body
1. Be Willing To Be An Iconoclast
i·con·o·clast (noun) : a person who attacks cherished beliefs as being based on error or superstition
Even if your mother thought it was mis-guided to love your body, and so did her mother, and so did her mother, the cycle can end with you. YOU, can wake up from this insanity of women denigrating themselves, and be one of the first to step forward and say no more.
You can turn the tide. You can start the wave. You can be the change.
Instead of believing society’s messages about what loving your body implies, you can choose to give new meaning to the act and expression of loving your body. What if loving your body meant you were a free-thinker, a lover of the feminine, a revolutionary, an appreciator of Life Itself.
What if expecting other women to be annoyed, offended or envious of your body-love, you anticipated they might be inspired, delighted, or liberated? You may be amazed how without realizing it, the people around us unconsciously conform to our expectations of them, whether they are negative or positive.
How are you willing to spearhead this necessary change in our culture? (Let me know in the comments.)
2. Embrace Paradox
par·a·dox: a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.
One of the reasons women don’t want to start loving their bodies now is that they fear appreciating their body as it is will take away their motivation to improve their body. It’s a logical argument, but I’d like to take you a step beyond logic and into the realm of paradox. Paradox is a sophisticated frame of reference because it involves holding one truth in one hand, and an opposing truth in the other hand, and having a wide enough perspective that you can see both as true.
In this case the seemingly opposing truths to hold are: I love my body as it is. (Or, as I prefer to say, I love my female animal as she is.) I’d like my body to be different.
Though these statements clearly sound contradictory, I see you as a wise woman who has the insight and perspective to be able to encompass both of these statements.
My favorite reason for loving my body as she is, is the reality that without her I’d be dead! Literally my body is my access to life itself. For with all its ups and downs, life is an extraordinary adventure, precious beyond words. In my Pleasure Camps I share the simple yet profound mantra, “I Am Alive.”
No matter how disappointed you may feel by the appearance or limitations of your body, returning to the remembrance that your body enables you to participate with life on Earth is a powerful way for returning to loving your body as it is–for now alive and kicking, albeit warts and all.
And counter-intuitive though it may be, when you are able to truly appreciate and love your body as it is right now, it creates a profound relaxation in the body, triggering the metabolic state that primes your body to lose weight naturally, thereby supporting the second half of this paradox which is liking your body to be different.
Loving your body requires transcending black-and-white, either/or thinking. It requires elevating your consciousness to find beauty in the whole spectrum of the rainbow of shapes and sizes and embracing a both/and mentality.
I personally love my female body and have ways I’d like her to be different. I’d like to be more flexible, I’d like to have less neck pain, I’d like to heal an injury in my legs, I’d like to have less cellulite, I’d like to be stronger, I’d like to be me more skillful at dancing. None of these desires take away from loving my body right now, and that’s what I see as possible for you too. Plus, by loving my body now, I escape the paralysis of self-hate, and have free attention and energy to pursue reaching those goals.
What are the ways you love your female body as she is right now? (Let me know in the comments.)
3. Prioritize Feeling Good
pleas·ure: enjoyment or satisfaction derived from what is to one’s liking; gratification; delight
While it’s a common belief that pleasure takes no effort, and hard work is what requires discipline, in our culture, it’s actually the opposite that is true. In our modern world, all you have to do is “go with the flow” and you’ll find yourself working nose to the grindstone, no discipline required at all! Pleasure on the other hand takes awareness. It takes snapping out of the cultural trance that deadens your senses with TV and junk food, and that my dear, takes discipline.
Pleasure takes being awake at the wheel of life. And when you are awake to the pleasure you are experiencing, it’s only one more step to realize it’s your body that’s permitting you these exquisite experiences, whether they be savoring music, dancing, conversation, star-gazing, sex, holding hands, eating or laughing.
When you make pleasure a priority, and experience more and more enjoyment in your life, it’s a constant reminder that your female body is good and lovable. She after all is your gateway to these experiences. Without her there would be no enjoyment or satisfaction.
Diet culture places so much emphasis on how your body looks, glossing over all the magic and wonder your body allows you to feel. Once you shift your attention to dwell on your body as your portal to all the pleasures life has to offer, you will notice your harsh, critical judgements of your body softening, and your ability to love your body now will steadily grow and grow.
What pleasures remind you to give thanks for your female body and to love her right now? (Let me know in the comments.)
So there you have it, a short summary of a very large topic. I’ve dedicated my life to the mission of dismantling the taboo of loving our bodies, and invite you to join me. Pleasurable Weight Loss is not just a method for changing the number of the scales. It’s about letting go of whatever burdens us, including the myths, taboos and confusions that are rampant in our culture.
What do you think about this quest? Leave me a comment below and let me know which of these 3 steps you’re willing to start with immediately.