Here in America, we hate our bodies. Like the pet rock in the 60s or the skinny jean in the now, body image issues are the hottest trend of the last couple centuries.
NOT hating your body is considered weird — even socially unacceptable. Imagine proclaiming your love for your fleshy midsection and muscular calves! Your friends would send you to rehab.
Shockingly, people of ALL sizes have body image issues. We’ve been led to believe that thinness = happiness, success and perfection. But taking a quick look around, it becomes pretty clear that this is nonsense. Models have some of the worst body image issues imaginable.
Don’t believe everything you see and all that.
This is a tough concept to accept, particularly since most of us carry around this burden of hope that if we could JUST achieve the perfect physical form, our lives would be perfect too. Millions of folks are slaving away in gyms rightthisminute based entirely on this false hope.
That would never, could never, will never happen. Ask anyone who DOES have what appears to be a perfect body. First, they’ll probably tell you the litany of reasons why their body isn’t perfect. Then, they’ll proceed to tell you the litany of reasons why their life isn’t perfect.
Thinness and happiness have no correlation. Not even remotely. Neither do beauty and happiness. Wealth and happiness. Fame and happiness.
And while that may seem pretty obvious, intellectually, we still act from a belief system that subscribes to these false promises. The vast majority of the American population is currently running around like poor, headless chickens, desperately try to lose weight, change their appearance, earn more $$$ … and for what? So they can be happier?
IT DOESN’T WORK. If it did, the richest, thinnest, most beautiful people would also be the happiest. Clearly, they aren’t.
Happiness is an inside job. Our bodies aren’t the answer. A diet is not the answer. A workout routine is not the answer (though I would argue that exercise boosts endorphins and is super awesome for lots of other reasons). Changing our physical appearance in any capacity isn’t the answer. That, I can promise.
So what are we supposed to do with this head full of body image issues we all carry around?
You probably already know all this. You see the title of this article and think, “Of COURSE it isn’t.” Then you proceed to pick yourself apart in the bathroom mirror or stare jealously at the chick in your spin class with a thigh gap.
Most of us know, intellectually, that changing our bodies won’t change what’s inside them. And yet we persist, at any cost, trying to do just that. We’re addicts, hopelessly wed to self-loathing and body shaming, stuck in a seemingly endless loop of dieting and self-consciousness and misery. Make no mistake — it is misery. Hating the shell you live in is basically the worst torture imaginable.
Trust me, I’ve been there.
But we can let this go, if we work at it. Once we force our brain to move away from an overemphasis on physical appearance, everything else comes into focus. We can start by refusing to obsess over appearance — in ourselves or anyone else. We can put our attention elsewhere: on a loving heart, a compassionate soul, a killer sense of humor; an infinite number of intangible qualities that comprise a human being. We can start to see these amazing assets in those around us, and ourselves, most of all.
Next time you look in the mirror, pay attention to what lies beneath. Because it’s there that the juiciest fruits of a person lie.