You see, there's a fine line between accepting your body and ignoring it. Or maybe I should say "neglecting" it. After a drastic rise in eating disorders in the 90s and early 2000s, partly (and superficially) blamed on the "heroin chic" look of models, we've finally come to a point when young women are encouraged to accept their bodies and treat them well.
|This is the kind of body acceptance I can happily get behind.|
But I am uncomfortable with the fact that suddenly any encouragement of healthy lifestyles seems to fall into one end of the spectrum or the other. We see women and men forcing themselves to exercise beyond what is necessary or deemed healthy; we also see them turning their back on any kind of self-improvement and hiding behind "body acceptance".
Should we accept our bodies? That shouldn't even be a question. Our bodies are fascinating machines; they work in ways that, to me, sometimes seem almost magical. It's mind-blowing to know the details of how our systems work to moderate our breathing, our temperature, our blood-flow, our energy...How can anyone look at the trillions of cells working in harmony to create a human body not find it miraculous?
Nature and its inner workings never fail to leave me awe-struck.
Our bodies are capable of amazing things. Running has taught me that. History has taught me that. We are physically able to do so much, and we are only here living our lives because we have a body to live in. Our bodies deserve to be treated well, taken care of, and respected. This means our bodies deserve exercise.
So why do I feel so uncomfortable with "body acceptance"? It's probably because these days that seems to be a euphemism for avoiding exercise. More and more I'm seeing this weird battle about what makes a woman a "real" woman. It started as a way to empower those that didn't fit the ideal, which is something like 95% of us. But it's become an "us vs. them" mentality. To hear the rhetoric, either you're thin, fit, and smug about it, or you're overweight, sassy, and proud.
|Exactly. Whatever floats your boat, ladies and gentlemen.|
I believe in pushing yourself to see what you can really be. I believe in testing the paradigms we surround ourselves with in order to test and realign our world-view and our idea of "normal".
|Why is this a desirable mindset?|
This is the same reason I feel uncomfortable when people talk about exercise as a form of bodily punishment, as if their body is a disappointment or a wayward animal that needs to be brought to heel.
Exercise has taught me to love and accept my body, not because it has changed my body, but because it has changed my mind.
I'm afraid I've written this whole thing and have no answers for myself. How do we balance body acceptance and improvement? How do we seek to "fix" ourselves while still loving ourselves? Why does "body acceptance" have to mean neglecting making healthy exercise and food choices?
I don't think it should.
And because I believe in staying positive, and I need to remind myself that not everyone out there has such a skewed outlook on health and what bodies "should" look like, here are links to two excellent articles about bodies and weight.
|The Different Body Types of Olympic Athletes|
|Female Bodies: A Weighty Issue|
What does "body acceptance" mean to you?
What are your thoughts on finding balance?