Sunday, August 23, 2015

Be kind to your body: lizards and pigeons included

A few weeks ago a woman posted a question on a social media platform. Apparently she had had a baby a year ago, was eating healthy, running and really trying to lose the baby weight. She had managed to lose most but the fat around her belly. How, she asked, could she get rid of that fat? It was gross and unattractive. I was saddened by this woman's hatred of her post-pregnancy body. I wrote a reply, advising her to be kind to the body that recently gave birth, quite a miracle. Many people agreed with me, advising her to be nice to herself.  Our bodies change as a result of childbirth and menopause. It was pretty soon after however, that I forgot that advice. I was in a yoga class, in Lizard pose, which in itself is not for the weak. Your forearms are on the floor, right next to your calf. I did not commend my body for twisting into this pose, I berated it. Looking at my back leg, all I saw was fat, bulging from my hip. I caught myself soon after, but the damage was done. I, who had just advised a woman to be kind to herself, had forgotten to be kind to myself. I was picking apart my body, and looking at its "weakness" rather than its strength. As a culture we are taught to pick apart our bodies. "Get firmer thighs in thirty days," one ad boasts, while another, "for plump lips try our amazing gloss." Not only are we fat, but our fat is in the wrong place. After years of eating healthy and exercising I am not immune. I bemoan the fact that I cannot wear high boots, cannot even get them over my calves. Instead of be grateful that I have the calf muscles of a football player, I grieve the loss of DSW boots. I guess it comes down to treating oneself the same as you would treat others. I would never tell another woman that she had big thighs or her breasts weren't perky enough. But I constantly repeat those messages to myself, to my body, this vehicle that runs 6 miles a day and can do a handstand. Next time I give advice, I need to sit back and ask whether or not I could take the advice I am giving. But for now, I will attempt to love my lizard, large calves and all.