Today is National Love Your Body Day. This event is sponsored by the National Organization for Women and it is based on the idea that pop culture images of the body-which are often distorted and manipulated- lead to psychological damage for girls and women (and, many argue, boys and men).
By learning to love our bodies- and accept them in all their diverse shapes and sizes- we can bring about positive change at both the personal and cultural levels. The Love Your Body campaign aims to do just that.National Love Your Body Day Poster Winner 2009
I’ll be honest with you, though- it takes a lot to learn to love your body. I’m still working on it. And….I’m guessing I’m not the only one.
Many of us are a ways off from loving our bodies- treating them with kindness, with respect. Admiring our best physical qualities and gently supporting the ones we’re not so fond of. These are some of the ideals we uphold when we think of love.
Except that…loving our bodies isn’t so much like romantic love as it is like an arranged marriage- you gotta learn to work with what you’ve been given. It often takes time, patience, and daily practice to develop love for your body. That said, it is possible to create a relationship with your body that is respectful, kind, and supportive.
Here are 5 ways to begin kindly connecting with your body.
1. Wear something that feels good. A great way to put you in touch with your body is to wrap it in clothes that make you feel great. Whether it’s comfy pajamas or a sexy dress- put it on and revel in how your body feels physically and emotionally.
2. Give your body 10 minutes off. Your body works hard- one of the best ways you can reward it is to relax. Find a quiet spot, set the timer for 10 minutes, and see just how much you can relax your body. Repeat this quietly to yourself, “My body deserves kindness.”
3. Find the right word. Language is important- think about how you talk to your lover versus how you talk to your boss (assuming those two aren’t the same person, of course!). Maybe the word ‘love’ isn’t right for how you feel now, or want to feel in the future, about your body. What other words might express where you are or where you want to be?
Perhaps if you can’t say, “I love my body” you can begin by saying “I feel capable in my body.” For years, I have used ‘strong’ and ‘comfortable’ to guide how I interact with my body- what choices I make for food, exercise, spiritual practice, clothing, etc.
4. Name 3 things you do love about your body. For many of us, there are things we do actually admire, respect, and enjoy about our bodies. Name 3 of those things for yourself. Then take a moment to be thankful for them. (Thank you skin, eyes, and hands!)
5. Nourish your body. One way to connect with your body is to feed it well. Pick one thing you know your body loves- something enjoyable, comforting, or just tasty- and eat it mindfully. Focusing on the taste, smell, and texture will heighten the experience and make it that much more fun!
Loving your body may seem a lofty goal, but it is a worthy one. And like any positive relationship it will thrive on kindness, honesty, and patience. Taking a few moments on a regular basis to cultivate this kind of connection will bring you ever closer to loving your unique and amazing body.