Thursday, June 4, 2009

Body Acceptance

Over my lunch break, I was reading a recent People magazine in which the main article was about Kirstie Alley's "dramatic" weight gain. As pretty much everybody on the planet knows, Ms. Alley signed up two years ago to be the spokesperson for Jenny Craig and lost a LOT of weight. I didn't want to get all worked up over this article (because I've got a lot of other stuff going on right now), but it seems it was not to be helped. I have two major issues with this:

  1. At her highest weight ever (225#), Ms. Alley looks BEAUTIFUL. Truly, she is gorgeous. She's got some blonde hair now, and she wore some really pretty dresses for the article photo shoot. She's really working the goddess-type body, but she thinks she is "hideous."
  2. The whole article's focus is Kirstie's desire to start "rocking a new body."

More than anything, I have a really, really big problem with the "rocking a new body" comment / ideology. What started out as the concept of "fat acceptance," for me, has morphed into an entirely new set of thoughts, ideas, and opinions about BODY acceptance. "Rocking a new body" pisses me off something fierce. Would you like to know why?

You cannot get a NEW body. The one you have is the only one you're going to get.

I understand that with all of the advances we are making as a species, it is surprising that we haven't figured out how to body jump yet; but still, there it is. We haven't figured it out. If you happen to misplace your entire body, we cannot subscribe you a new one. So, in light of that fact (duh?), doesn't it make more sense to honor the body you have instead of subjugating it? If you are your body, then the vast majority of people really have ZERO love for themselves on the whole. How you treat your body is how you treat your spirit, your soul, your zen, or whatever else you want to call it. When you call your body names, you're demeaning your entire being. When you deny your body the things it needs, the things that are NECESSARY for survival, you are denying your entire self the opportunity to thrive. People die from failure to thrive, really.

But I know, right? It is a really hard concept. We get the message from EVERYWHERE that we aren't right. Are you too fat? Lose some weight. Are you going gray? Get some color. Are you fucked up somehow? We've got a pill for it. Trust me when I say that I know this is a struggle. I feel that I have been at war with my body for a year now...and I KNOW I have been at war with my psyche for a lot longer. My body is in constant pain - sometimes more acutely than others. My psyche is in a constant state of upheavel - sometimes more acutely than others. But do you know what I've figured out recently? That's right. I'm not going to miraculously get another body, mind, or spirit. I have to take care of the ones I've already got. No matter how much my body seems to want to defy me, I can't slough it off for a new, designer model. Coming to terms with that really set a lot of things into clarity for me. There is never going to be a "fix" for the disorders I have; so, why fight it so hard?

So, when I see someone I know measuring out exactly three teaspoons of salad dressing, I cringe. When I hear someone I love say that they need to find something to wear that doesn't make them look like they weigh what they actually weigh, I cringe. When I see Kirstie Alley splatter all over People magazine about how ashamed she is of her voluptuous body, I cringe. Because I want, so very much, to say to them, "Why not try to accept yourself as you are, first; and then, maybe you can try to make some changes?" Because if you can't accept the body you have as it is right now, you're never going to be satisfied. Because the truth is that we say these things because we're waiting to live until the outside looks the right way, behaves the right way, or functions the right way. If the outside doesn't match the inside, then there's no point in beginning. Right? I totally get it. I've done it. "I'll wait to go swimming until I don't hurt. I'll go outside when my legs don't ache. I'll buy that really cute dress that I LOVE when I can buy one size smaller." I've really, really been there. But you know? I totally think that me and you...and you...and you....are OK just the way we are. You know why? Because your body is upholding you, uplifting you, and seriously not trying to kill you. My body is upholding me, uplifting me, and generally mostly not trying to kill me. I can function. I can still do my job despite the fact that I thought one of my recent diagnoses was going to make it impossible for me to do so. I can still play with my dog, too. And You? You can walk. You have the capacity of all of your limbs. Hell, even your toes serve their purpose. And it is those little things for which I find and give thanks every goddamn day. I have accepted my body - at least for right this very minute.

Again, I know. It is a hard thing. I'm not saying that you can't or shouldn't take care of yourself. Exercise. Eat in a manner appropriate to your body. Don't try to blow up from the inside. Those are all GOOD things, and they are all things that I practice on a daily basis. What I'm trying to say is this: Like attracts like. You get back what you put out. And I don't want to go all universalist spiritual all over the place, but the fact of the matter is that it is true. If you are constantly down on your body, and by extension the rest of YOUR ENTIRE BEING (i.e. calling yourself "hideous" as Ms. Alley does), things aren't going to fall into place for you because you've made the whole process - your entire self - into something negative. You're trying to discipline yourself into something unnatural. But if you uplift yourself, be positive with yourself, and HONOR what you've already got, things will come naturally, easily. (True: There will always be struggles. This is a lesson to be learned over and over again. But

So, maybe, just for a little while today, try to practice this new thing I've been doing: Find something, anything positive about your body and write it down. Say it out loud. And then? Expand upon that. If the only thing you've got is that your pedicure is cute, then please, by all means, start there. Does that pedicure make the rest of your foot look cute? Hot damn, it does! Does that mean you can wear cute little heels, which make your calves look pretty, too? YEAH! And even if you aren't happy with the majority of your physical appearance, try to entertain the idea that you ought to accept your body as it is in this very moment and in this space because you just aren't going to get another one. Make this one a priority.

We may have figured out how to transplant entire faces, but we're still working on new bodies.


  1. have i told you how much i adore you?

  2. I've just written another post on the home made wine I made, it was easy and there's a photo of how clear it got.