If you're like me, you are likely surrounded by messages about body image of some kind or another. If you're not seeing a hyper-sexualized body on a magazine cover, you're seeing a post on your Facebook feed decrying hyper-sexualized images. If you're not watching an ad for a fitness regimen, you're listening to a friend explain the importance of body acceptance.
It used to be that the one place you didn't see anything about body image was this blog. Sorry about that.
I realize that a lot of the things I'm about to say have already been said, but I'm a Mormon, and have therefore been trained to tackle topics that have already been beaten to death.*
So, despite the fact that I deal with Clinical Depression™, I've always felt like I, over all, have had a pretty healthy relationship with my body. And that's how I really see it: as a relationship. Because, also due to my Mormonity, I believe that I am not my body. I, Cecily, reside within my body. I, Cecily, was sent here to Earth to get a body and learn how to make good choices. My body is a thing that I have to learn how to deal with and use, thus the need for a relationship. In contrast, I don't have a relationship with my spirit, because I am my spirit.
But I also have this problem in that my body is the part of me that is actually visible to other humans. This creates some confusion and difficulty. I get judged by my appearance, and I also judge myself. I try not to, but I have my moments. Everybody has their moments.**
But you know what? If there were no such thing as a mirror, or even if the whole world were blind, I would still have to have this relationship with my body. I would have to worry if it was working properly, and if it's getting enough to eat. It's not like the moment you can't see yourself, you transform into some ethereal nothingness. So that gets me to thinking, if we thought about our bodies as they are, and not only about how they are perceived, how would that change our understanding of our own physicality? How would that change our opinion of ourselves? How would that change our relationship with food, clothes, and exercise?
For this past year, I've been focusing on improving my physical health, and I've dipped into all three of these areas. And you know what really shocked me? I started to realize that maybe I didn't have as great of a relationship with my body as I thought, and suddenly there was a lot of work that I needed to do. So, instead of writing about it, I've been doing the work.
But I feel like I've done enough work and research now to actually talk about what I've been going through. And as I started writing this entry, I realize that I have a lot to say about it, so I'm going to split this into a series of posts, each addressing a sub-topic of body identity. But before we get to those, why don't I give you a preview of what I learned? Here are the bullet points:
- Ignoring my body is not good for me
- My commitment to my faith includes a commitment to my body
- My commitment to my body influences my happiness
I'll address these points in each forthcoming post. Until then, I hope that when you are confronted by all of these body image messages, you can take some solace in the fact that these messages aren't really addressing you. They're addressing the condition of the fleshy covering that surrounds you. Okay, maybe that's not that much help. I'm new at this.
Regards, best wishes, and I hope you know what I meant,
*I once was asked to give a talk (that's Mormonspeak for sermon) on faith, then found out that three other people had also been asked to speak on the same topic on the same day, and I was the last speaker. I have been prepared for this day.
**It occurs to me that this idea of body-as-self has permeated our language, creating words like anybody and everybody. What would this world be like if we used words like anyspirit and everyspirit? Wait, that's weird and creepy. Abort protocol! Abort!