Body love is a term that gets thrown around in the positive body image, non-diet culture, and self acceptance world, a lot.
We're told to love our bodies unconditionally, no matter what they look like, how they perform, or how they make us feel. It's like marriage, we're in it, in good and bad. It's all great and I sure do believe in it.
However, what I think most people need to achieve first is body acceptance, not love. Love seems such a strong word to me. Not that you can never find love for your body! You can. I just feel that the concept of body love can be so hard to even grasp for someone, who has had a very unhealthy relationship with her body.
When we tell someone that they must start loving their body tomorrow by telling herself affirmations in front of the mirror several times a day, they're probably not going to succeed.
It's like telling someone who has never stepped her feet into the gym, that she must start working out twice a day 7 days a week. All it does it makes her intimidated, think that it's impossible to achieve it, and it's not even worth it to try because she's going to fail anyway.
Hence, we need to find body acceptance first (and moderate programming, if you've never been to the gym!).
How You Don't Do Body Acceptance
Here are some confusing messages around body love and acceptance, that I'd like to challenge:
We Have to Accept Our Flaws
In general, I'm really happy that there are more and more people out there talking about body acceptance. But what's getting a little repetitive is putting our stomach rolls and cellulite on a display and then telling how okay we are with these flaws.
I think it's great that we show how much variety there is, how many different body types are out there, and how they're all normal and good, but by saying that we accept our “flaws”, we're not really accepting them. Because we're still calling them flaws![tweet_box design=”default”]By saying that we accept our “flaws”, we don't really accept them. Because we're still calling them flaws![/tweet_box]
We're also saying that we love ourselves despite these flaws. Using the word despite actually means that the norm would be to NOT accept ourselves, doesn't it? But why is it so? In real body acceptance, we simply accept and like (and maybe even love) our bodies, and there's no room for despites or althoughs.
Body Acceptance Feels Like Unicorns and Rainbows Every Day
Some people make body acceptance sound like it's something extremely glamorous. That you wake up with a wide smile on your face first thing in the morning, say beautiful things to your body, touch your belly and your thighs (or whatever you see as your “flawed” areas) and say how grateful you are for them, every single day.
If you do that, more power to you! But I know that this is not what body acceptance is to me and for most people who have made peace with their bodies.
When you truly accept your body, you don't think about it every minute of the day. You just know that it's awesome and great. It's a default that you don't need to repeat to yourself or to the world, all the time.
Sure, there are moments when I really think to myself that these legs allow me to go on these long walks that I love, and my heart is awesome because it keeps pumping blood around in my body, and I love that my eyes allow me to see a beautiful sunset. But in general, I don't spend hours saying nice things to myself in front of the mirror.
To me, body acceptance is knowing that my body is really great. I just know it, because of what it's been through, what it's been able to recover from, what it still does every day, and simply because it exists. I know that my body is super resilient and strong, so I no longer need to think and say it out loud every day.
Body Acceptance Comes with a Certain Look
I've had many conversations about this topic with couple of my girlfriends, who, just like me, have seen their bodies in several sizes and shapes. We have all agreed that we aren't in our leanest, fittest shapes right now, yet we have more acceptance — and I'd actually say love — towards our bodies, more than ever before.
This is something that I think, comes with age and life experience. Just like I said before, acceptance comes from knowing and realizing that your body does awesome things.
But there are so many fitness people and accounts out there who say that doing their program, losing X amount of weight or getting a rounder butt is the ticket to body acceptance. And if not, then lean abs will definitely do the trick!
Well let me tell you — if you don't have the respect for yourself and your body before this program, you will not have it after the program. Can the new, leaner look make you more excited and proud, because you put in some hard work in the gym to achieve it? Yes! I believe so. But this is NOT the same as acceptance. Body acceptance doesn't depend on the size and shape of your butt, abs or any other body part.[tweet_box design=”default”]If you don't have the respect for yourself and your body before enrolling in a butt building or fat loss program, you will not have it after completing the program either.[/tweet_box]
Body acceptance is much more than accepting your flaws or announcing the world that your cellulite is awesome.
By telling everyone that we love ourselves despite the rolls, we're actually saying the opposite. Yes, it's a great thing that we are able to post a bikini picture of us, something that scared the crap out of us before, but we don't have to draw special attention to the body parts that we're dissatisfied with. It also feels like that a lot of times, by doing so, we're hoping to get affirmation from others, that we look great and have nothing to worry about.
Body acceptance is not a surface-level “I'm so pretty, look at me” talk to yourself in front of the mirror. It doesn't work that way, and it's really hard for me to believe that this is the way people talk themselves in order to start loving themselves.
Body acceptance isn't some glorious destination where you're going to live for the rest of your life once you get there. You're not supposed to be madly in love with yourself to have body acceptance. Having body acceptance really means being grateful for your body, but also living in your body every day without putting insane amount of thought into it.
Lastly, body acceptance doesn't come with the workout program that you purchased online or the personal training package you're planning to get next. It just doesn't. You need to do inner work: stop comparing yourself to others, find inspiring people to follow, start educating yourself via great books and podcasts, and notice your body's ability to heal from all the years of not treating it too well.
Do you want to cultivate better relationship with your body? Get my FREE email course, Strengthen Your Mindset Muscle!