Is there a "right" way to have a body?

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Love your body.

Change your body.

Don’t change your body.

Hate your body.

There are so many mixed messages coming from every direction when it comes to women and their bodies. It seems like every day there is a new expectation associated with how we should exist in our bodies.

I totally understand the struggle of trying to find where you “fit” and grappling with wanting to change your physique but also embrace where you’re at. I’ve felt this way numerous times in my journey. I’m currently about 15lbs heavier than I typically feel best at due to a PCOS flare up (check this post for more details) and honestly, there have been MANY moments where I have said some not so nice things to myself. There have been some tantrums and frustrated fits of grabbing at things I don’t like and obsessively staring at old photos.

While these moments happen, the frequency and duration of them has diminished over the years. That is not to say that I am head over heels in love with my body all day, every day. In fact, I’d describe my relationship with my body as pretty neutral. My body is a vessel that I exist in – it does amazing things, allows me to live the life that I want, carries me through tough times, and helps me celebrate good ones. I try to do things to keep it happy and functioning. It is part of me but it is not my entirety.

So what should we do? Should we love our bodies unconditionally? Should we hate them? Do we change them via diet and exercise? Or is that an act of hate towards our bodies?

The pressure to live in our bodies and feel a particular way about our bodies can be overwhelming. It can feel like no matter what we do, we aren’t doing it right. We aren’t loving our bodies enough. We aren’t trying hard enough to change them. We aren’t embracing them enough. The weight of these expectations can be downright soul crushing.  

I had a conversation with someone just the other day about the feelings of failure associated with health, wellness, and existing in our bodies. They felt like they failed at changing their body in a way they wanted, so they opted to shift gears and work on embracing their body in the present moment. After a while, they felt as if they failed at that too because they still wanted to make changes towards living a different lifestyle and therefore, they must not reeeeally love their body if they have a desire to change it.  Living in these two extremes and feeling like a failure is no way to live. No one has the right to make you feel like you’ve failed at building a relationship with yourself. You can absolutely feel positively about your body and want to change it.

What if instead of trying to shove ourselves in a false dichotomy of self love and self hate,  we move towards a healthy relationship with our bodies? What if we honor them and treat them in a way that feels good for us?

We eat, move, and exist in a way that serves our mental and physical health.  

We release the expectations of a labeling our relationship with our bodies because, let’s face it, sometimes relationships are complicated and messy. These relationships don’t need to exist in a box or adhere to a particular set of standards that are set by someone other than ourselves.

Can we actively fight against arbitrary standards that tell us how to exist in the world?

Can we resist the urge to trade one box for another and instead forge a unique path?

I think we are up for the challenge.