June 4, 2014

Self-love & Body Acceptance: Does It Really Matter? ~ Ashton Keck


Articles, articles, articles! Articles upon more articles. The more I delve into the world of social media and magazines, the more articles I find preaching the self-acceptance movement.

I read pages of pissed off women who are through with society’s view on women. “Women are curvy” “Here’s for the skinny sister, we are here too” “Wrinkles tell a story.” The stories differ slightly but the meaning remains the same.

Women are tired of being measured up, boxed in, and crammed into a category of an unattainable perfection.

We have sucked it in, pushed it up, and smiled through the pain of our toenails slowly crushing into our cuticles.

Yet sometimes, I wonder how successful this movement really is. I do not know that I can really say how much reading rant over rant about loving ourselves has actually helped. I suppose in a way, at the very least, it has helped bring the notion that despising my own body is wrong.

I have struggled with body image my entire life.

I spent most of my middle and high school years sucking in my cushiony tummy in front of a mirror. It always ended with me crying on the floor wishing I could take a knife and cut it all away. Of course, later on down the road I discovered starving myself was a much easier way to make it disappear.

After years of struggling with an eating disorder, I decided I needed a change.

This change was for two reasons:

1. I was terrified of the influence I would have over the kids in my life.

2. My hair started falling out and that wasn’t too hot either.

In reality, loving me was still not much of a top motivator. I could not wrap my mind about ever accepting a roll on my stomach. In a twisted kind of way, I felt that body acceptance was for the weak who could never reach their fit bodied goal. Of course, I now realize this was the disordered monster in my head talking, but at the time that was who I listened to.

When the time came where I could no longer justify starving myself, I made the terrifying leap into a world of food.  I started eating and not just my “safe foods.” I ate what I thought would nourish my body.

I still tried to control everything.

I researched every little bit of information I could find on how to nourish a body. I steered clear of sweets and anything I thought would propel me into instant obesity (again, this was the disorder talking. One piece of chocolate does not send a person into severe weight gain.)

Eventually, I was back to a healthy weight but I still hated my body. I could no longer gently brush my collar bone with my finger tips for a feeling of security. My ribs did not poke out nearly as much as they used to. Having more to hug was not a place of comfort for me.

I never gave up though.

Throughout the years I have continued to try and strengthen my relationship with food.

The only thing consistent with this journey is how often I fail and have to restart gain. However, so far, I always seem to get back up and start again. That has been the key for me in most of my life’s problems. I just never stop moving. I always take action to keep going forward. It is when I stay stagnant and think I have it all figured out that life starts to worry me.

Reading articles about self-love and stopping society’s expectations on women has not done much for me.

Running until my knees swelled also did not solve my disdain. Lifting weights and squatting until it hurt to sit on a toilet did not bring me peace of mind either.

My journey began in a tiny yoga studio where it smelled like armpit. It started when I stopped plowing through my bodies limitations. Do not get me wrong, I started off trying to force poses bending backwards without even realizing I had a tailbone to tuck, but I quickly learned that in doing so I would fall over and look like a fool. And when I did fall, the woman next me with matted hair just smiled. I could apologize all I wanted but she did not care. She told me that it did not matter if our hands touched during wild thing or if I fell on her.

This was a place of love and exploration. This was a place where I could no longer hurt myself and expect to grow.

Reading self-love brought me to a place where I could find love.

Honestly, I still stare at my tummy in the mirror. I do have self-love, but not always body acceptance. The difference now, is that when I get to the point where I start cruelly speaking to my appearance, I get more upset that I am still at the point of thinking it matters and less focused on what I am looking at.

Sometimes I look in the mirror and I love what I see. Other times, I cringe. My perception is warped but even that doesn’t matter. What matters is I keep moving, I keep surrounding myself by the people like the girl with the matted hair. I learn to accept that I can’t always accept myself and work towards a life of more love and acceptance.

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Apprentice Editor: Sarvasmarana Ma Nithya/Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Pixoto/Suzana Dordea

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Ashton Keck