There are a lot of worthy causes in the world. More than can possibly be listed, and every one of them serious and important and potentially life-altering. And we all have a limited amount of time and energy to dedicate to our causes and beliefs and battles, so we can’t all contribute to everything. Working towards a positive, peaceful, accepting body image may seem like such an insignificant goal, comparatively speaking. But here’s why I think that cultivating positive body image matters.
Because we cannot love others, help others, or support others if we hate ourselves. Because we cannot achieve to our fullest, realize our dreams, or conquer our fears if we hate ourselves. Because we cannot change who we are, grow stronger, or realize our potential if we hate ourselves. Because we cannot thrive and blossom if we hate ourselves. And hating ourselves includes hating our bodies. Our bodies are integral to our selves.
Because the world is full of messages about “good” and “bad” bodies. Because we are told that a certain weight, a certain set of proportions, a certain body type or shape will unlock happiness, and that we should do everything in our power to achieve those things. Because there are forces and industries that benefit when we hate our bodies. Because we should fight against anything that tells us we must conform or live in misery, that if we don’t conform we should hate ourselves. And hating ourselves includes hating our bodies. Our bodies are integral to our selves.
Because happiness is difficult in so many ways, and becomes even more so if we lunge at it from a place of self-loathing. Because understanding ourselves, loving others, and changing the world can seem utterly impossible if we linger in a place of self-loathing. Because many of the most rewarding experiences in life feel just beyond reach when we hate ourselves. And hating ourselves includes hating our bodies. Our bodies are integral to our selves.
Learning to love your body may seem small or selfish or pointless at times, especially when compared to fighting for larger causes and reaching out to help others. But to fashion yourself into a powerful, effective, whole being, you’ve got to come at life from a place of strength. Your body is your home. If you hate your home – if you flee from it, disrespect it, and wish it were fundamentally different – your strength will be diminished. Whether you want to help others or simply find your way to happiness in your own life, loving yourself is absolutely vital.
And loving yourself includes loving your body. Your body is integral to your self.
Image courtesy the amazing Christi Nielsen.