This weekend I shared the following quote on instagram.
It was taken from the most beautiful piece on body acceptance, written by a colleague of mine, Anna Sweeney. Give it a read. She describes the process of learning to accept your body in the most beautiful way.
And of course, it is a process. Body acceptance is so much easier said than done, especially if you live in a body that's marginalized in our society. It's one thing to accept a body that society already accepts. It's another to accept a body that's on the receiving end of violence or discrimination. The work of body acceptance is much deeper than body positivity - it's about changing our society to make it a safer place for all bodies.
I talk a little more about body acceptance in this post (along with the concepts of body respect, body love, and body trust). Basically, body acceptance is learning to accept your body for where it’s at in the present, not trying to change it. You don’t love it, or hate it. It just is.
There's so much emphasis put on body positivity. Just look to the number of squishy belly bikini selfies on instagram for evidence. I don't want to knock body positivity, because I think it can be really empowering to see someone else loving and feeling unashamed of their "imperfections." But it can also be discouraging too if you're feeling really far away from that level of body positivity. Body respect and acceptance can feel a bit more approachable.
One way to build body acceptance is to acknowledge what you have accomplished in your here-and-now body. Even if you hate your body, it has probably allowed for you to do some pretty incredible things. Fostering gratitude for those accomplishments and experiences can be a pathway for nurturing a more peaceful relationship with your body, and a reminder that you don't need to change your body to live a happy and fulfilling life.
Here's some things I feel good about accomplishing in my here-and-now body:
- I ran a half marathon, didn't die, and actually had fun.
- My body fought off a mild case of food poisoning on Tuesday so I could make it to the Beyonce and Jay-Z concert later that night
- My body and brain allowed me to relax and meditate for 30 minutes this weekend, when usually longer meditations are REALLY hard for me.
- I made it onto SELF magazine's 17 trusted RD's to follow for advice list. I feel really grateful for my body supporting all the hustle behind building my business!
- My body has allowed me to do fun activities, like kayaking on the Congaree, chasing the pups in the backyard, and redecorating our living room.
- My body has helped me support a friend going through a difficult time.
- My body learned the dance to Bartier Cardi. It's not pretty, but I've learned the choreography.
- My body has allowed me to travel and explore the world, doing crazy fun things like hiking to hidden waterfalls in Hawaii, staying awake for over 24 hours to explore Reykjavik after taking the red eye in, and make it through 2 1/2 weeks of street food in Vietnam without food poisoning.
One exercise that might be helpful for you is to keep a list of your here-and-now body accomplishments in a journal, so you have something you can go back and read when you're feeling negative about yourself or your body. Below is a journaling prompt you are more than welcome to save and use for this activity.
What accomplishments would go on your list? Share in the comments below! I would love to keep the comments going as a source of inspiration for other people's lists.