You can’t decide, today, that you’re going to love your body forever and that’s that. But you can do something just as important: today you can decide to try.
Loving your body isn’t easy.
It’s not as easy as hating your body. It’s not as easy as wanting to change it or conducting a daily roll call of your personal flaws. Those things come easy, because you’ve been taught how to do them. There’s a script that for hating your body. It is on repeat all around us, every day. The script is easy. You’ve probably had it memorized for years:
“I hate my thighs.”
“Just 10 more pounds to lose.”
“I shouldn’t have that piece of cake.”
Loving your body isn’t a one-step process. I wish it were, but it isn’t. You can’t decide, today, that you’re going to love your body forever and that’s that. But you can do something just as important: today you can decide to try.
Because that’s often what loving your body comes down to: a commitment to trying.
Trying is a constant process. A one-step-forward-two-steps-back type of endeavor. Like yoga or being nice to your annoying coworker or learning Italian late in life, it takes practice. How does that old cliché go? “Love is not a noun, it’s a verb”? Loving your body is a verb. It’s an action — and in many ways it’s a sacred and defiant one. How revolutionary, in the face of infinite messages telling you your body isn’t beautiful and worthy of love, to say, “Yes, it is.”
Loving your body isn’t easy, but it happens in little, crucial moments.
It happens when you hit pause on a vicious inner monologue and replace disgust with love. It happens when you’re having sex, or dancing, or eating the World’s Most Delicious Piece Of Chocolate Cake, and you thank the sweet lord above for a body that can experience such pleasure.
It happens in the unforgiving light of a department store dressing room when nothing fits and you are so, so tempted to spiral into body hate, but instead you look yourself in the mirror and think, “They’re just clothes. They don’t determine my worth or my beauty. I’m fucking fabulous.”
Loving your body isn’t easy, but once you start, it gets easier.
You might fall in love with your body if you let yourself. You might sneak glances in the mirror, in awe of the rich color of your skin or the way the light plays on the planes of your chest or the dimples of your ass. You might notice a particularly luscious curve or a breathtaking angle.
You might realize your big round belly, tattooed with stretch marks, is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen.
But loving your body isn’t just about seeing it. It’s about being in it. This part gets easier even as you age and you look less and less like the girls in magazines (not that anyone ever really looks like them), because you learn something important: how to inhabit your body; how to be in it rather than look at it. You realize what a miracle your body is, wrinkles and stretch marks and sun spots and all. You learn to say “thank you” to this one body you’ve been given.
Loving your body isn’t easy, but it’s easier if you find reasons to be grateful.
Take bubble baths. Move in ways that feel good. Rest often. Breathe deeply. Wear soft fabrics. Get massages. Cook decadent meals. Have orgasms. Sing Beyoncé songs at the top of your lungs. Let go of guilt and anger and resentment. Dance at every opportunity. Say “thank you” to your body. Really, say it out loud.
Know that even when you do all this, there will be days when you get tired and frustrated and revert back to the old script. Sometimes a rude comment cuts deep. Sometimes hating your thighs is easier than dealing with the complexities of life. When this happens, know that you’re not alone, and the solution is always the same: keep trying.
Loving your body isn’t easy, but it’s a love worth fighting for.