“The body, the flesh, is the source of all that it means to be human.”
-J. Martineau, 2012
I started talking last week about the issues that I see with the “body love” assumptions that the “movement” have. (Let’s see what else I can “put in quotation marks”.)
Now, some true truth. It is not love of your body/self that will get you to take care of your body/self, it is taking care your body/self that will get you to love your body/self. I see this confused in a lot of people. They want to put the emotion before the work. Like I said before, if you’ve been raised not to love your body (and if you were raised on this planet in the last couple thousand years, you were), you are not going to just wake up one morning after being told that you should love your body and just love it. (It is only for ease of expression that I call the body “it”. “It” is you, but we’ve so long created a chasm between our “self” and our “body” that we have a hard time understanding that “they” are the same “thing”.) From now on, “it” and “you”, “your body” and “you” are interchangeable, okey dokey?
Back to the truthiness with a little story to illustrate:
When my son was born, I looked at him for the first time and felt something akin to shock that that little squirming thing was inside me and was now another person. I felt protective, I felt attached, I felt a need to nurse him…you know instinctive things. But, I can’t really say that love was one of them. The great myth of motherhood (and body love) is that a parent instantly loves the squalling little bundle. This isn’t true for everyone. Then, I took that sweet thing home. I washed him. I nursed him. I dressed him. I watched him sleep. I held him to me all day as I did things around the house. I took him with me to work so I could hear him breathe. I picked him up when he screamed for comfort. Even in the very middle of the night…over and over. Day in, day out. I started to love him…I moved from practicing the role of caretaker to motherhood. He’s taller than me, now, but I can tell you what every move of his eyebrows means, what he likes to eat, what he dreams of becoming one day.
To love yourself takes devotion. It takes time and practice. . It takes dedication and commitment. It takes forming a relationship to yourself. Your body, you…it is the longest relationship that you will ever have. It really isn’t always easy. There are nights when you have to decide between working late or getting yourself to bed so that your needs are met. There are days when you are messy and covered in something weird, but you have to take care of it and that is how love happens with your body/self. It is the day in/day out constancy of self care that will pay off in one day being able to tell just from the sound of your own breathing if you need a nap or a run or a square of chocolate.
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