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September 10, 2021

There’s Harm in Striving to Love our Bodies.

I’ve been on a mission to love my body since the day I was taught it was a part of me that needed to be judged.

Before that, I was simply living in a body. I was neutral.

It must have been easy to feel neutral about my body. I don’t quite remember what it was like—I was too young.

Now, I can only imagine how much more mental capacity I must have had when my day wasn’t filled with obsessive thoughts about what I could do to attain a body that was worthy of my love.

But here’s the thing: my body has always been worthy of love. And I do love my body—most of the time.

I love the way my heart beats.

I love the way my lungs breathe.

I love the way my spine supports and my muscles hold.

But to be completely truthful, I don’t always love the way my skin flares and my belly rolls and folds and I don’t fit into my jeans when I’ve swelled.

And it’s in those moments when I lose my love that I become the hardest on myself, because aren’t I supposed to love my body all the time?

Aren’t I supposed to love my body even though it goes against society’s standards of what a beautiful body looks like?

Isn’t that the goal we’ve all been preaching?

But hunny, we can’t force love. And in my experience, a love that is forced has only led to resentment.

Doesn’t the same apply to the love we force upon our bodies? Doesn’t the narrative that we must learn to love our bodies only prove that our bodies need to earn our love because they aren’t already worthy?

When we strive to love our bodies all the time, we will only continue to be disappointed by failing to meet our own expectations.

And putting so much emphasis on the need to love our bodies only further perpetuates the idea that we need to focus on loving the way our bodies look.

But what if we didn’t have to love our bodies? What if loving our bodies didn’t have to be the goal?

What if, instead of learning to love our bodies, we learned how to be in the world without constant judging (of others and ourselves)?

What if, instead of aiming for love, we aimed for neutrality?

If we could all feel neutral about our bodies (and other people’s bodies), I’d imagine we’d live in a world with a lot less division. I’d imagine we’d live in a world where nudity wouldn’t be sexualized without consent.

We might live in a world where women wouldn’t be constantly ridiculed for weight gain or showing “too much” cleavage. We might live in a world where more women could put their energy into what they truly love—their passions—instead of putting that energy into worrying about the gap between their thighs.

We might live in a world where men wouldn’t be viewed as predators, trans and nonbinary folks wouldn’t be questioned, and the color of our skin wouldn’t determine our value.

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I, obviously, realize that body neutrality wouldn’t magically erase racism, sexism, misogyny, and transphobia, but I do believe that if we stopped putting so much f*cking energy into striving to love our bodies, and more energy into simply being in our bodies, then there would be a lot less space for comparison and hate.

And maybe, we’d have more energy to put love into what really matters—like real connection, the environment (and the climate crisis), and our mental health.

And just to clarify: to love our bodies is a beautiful and sacred act. And loving our bodies does matter. However, it’s the striving that can cause more harm than good. It’s the striving that places more emphasis on appearance and can create unrealistic expectations and disappointment.

There is simply too much pressure to love. And wouldn’t it just be a lot easier if we decided to just be instead?

~

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