It is safe to hate my body—that is why I do it.
It has almost nothing to do with my hopes, dreams, fears, and desires. It has nothing to do with that strange empty feeling inside, and nothing at all to do with why I feel disconnected.
And that’s where the real sh*t is happening. My emptiness, my fears, my desires, my regrets, my resentments—they are all in there waiting for me.
My poor body is just an easy target, because in the end, it is not really about me. I mean, it is, but it is a safe distance from the stuff that really matters. It is far away from what I really care about.
It’s like understanding that the fight you have with your partner about the garbage is not really about the f*cking garbage, it is about you feeling unsupported in the relationship, which is a much more volatile and scary topic to tackle.
The garbage is easy. The garbage is nothing. Just like your thighs, hips, or ass. But, if I address feeling unsupported by my partner, then the garbage is no longer an issue.
And that is where we need to start. We need to understand that our body shape will not bring us happiness.
I will not reach enlightenment if I change my nose, my acne, or my greasy hair. I will not feel more loved if my jeans fit me better. I will not feel better about who I am if I live in a certain place, drink a certain type of beverage, or use a certain lip liner.
This is the other reason why it is so easy to hate our bodies. All of what goes into knowing, accepting, and loving ourselves as we are takes work. It takes guts and an ability to see things that are much more horrifying than an extra 20 pounds on the scale in the morning.
It’s no wonder the beauty and fashion industries are booming. It is easier to focus on the exterior: what you own, how much you make, what you do to make it. It is far more challenging to deal with the fear of abandonment, the fear that we are not worthy of love. Our fear that we will never live up to our potential.
Dealing with our real fears takes more work because we have to embrace them. We have to sit with them. We have to look at ourselves and decide if these fears are real, or if they are just emotional echoes of events past.
That’s why I have no problem when people tell me about their diets, the work they do to look different, or the stuff they buy to feel attractive. I totally get it. It is easier, and let’s face it, more entertaining and pleasurable to focus on this stuff.
The problem is that none of this is enough to divert my attention. In fact, after I buy things, change things, or do things differently, I am still left with my resentment. I am still left with my regret. I am still left with all of my fears.
I remember at one point being the most fit version of myself; it was the point at which everything in my life should have been perfect, according to all the women’s magazines…I think, though I honestly don’t read them so I am making an assumption here. Anyway, it was at this moment that all of the demons decided to spring.
I had an adventurous sex life, a bangin’ body, and all of a sudden, all of my fears came screaming into my head and would not let me rest.
On the one hand, I had absolute proof that a better body was not the key to happiness. But on the other, all the hateful voices and fears inside my mind unleashed hell upon me—a hell that I am still working through.
But it is all a distraction, because in the end, I just want to be myself, not just an ordinary version of myself, but the best possible version. The version that embraces belly laughs, takes leaps of faith, surrounds herself with an explosion of art and science and love and compassion and hope.
That is who I want to be, and that is why I fight against the hate, though it is easier.
I fight against the hate, and work my way into myself, because I want to taste the sky and swallow the stars. I want to be better than I could have ever imagined. And that person—the best version of me and the best version of you—doesn’t waste her energy hating her body. She spends her energy working on what lies beneath and, in the end, loves it anyway.
Author: Sara Young
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Danielle Beutell