At War With Our Bodies
Out of a great need we are all holding hands and climbing. A not loving is a letting go. Listen the terrain around here is too difficult for that. ~ Hafiz
Women are fighting. If you look around any room in the US, you will see women of every age, shape, size and color engaged in an inner battle – one they are waging on themselves. Statistics show that 89-95% of women are dissatisfied with their bodies. Whether she is tall, thin, leggy, hippy, busty, round, stout, wrinkled, flawless, flabby, furred or finned – whether she is the woman you are comparing yourself to and failing or comparing yourself to and winning – she is fighting the same battle you are. She is at war with the form that allows her to be here nd enjoy this temple of life.
What happens when we are engaged in a war? We either fight or surrender. Either way, we throw all of our resources at it. And for a woman fighting her body, those resources include her time, thoughts, energy, money, self-esteem and power.
How many of us spend our precious time and focus counting calories, carbs or fat? How many of us run on treadmills, not to express our power, but because we fear fat? How many of us take stimulants instead of nourishment when we are hungry? Spend our money on products, pills and programs that promise lasting results but rarely deliver? Or feel ashamed because we still struggle in some way, never quite winning the war completely?
What would it take stop the war?
Some focus on prevention. Many programs exist helping young girls address body image issues and media culture. While I’m grateful that our daughters may grow up with a healthier foundation, it still doesn’t address the issue for those of us over the age of 25. We didn’t get a body positive education, and the messages telling us our worth is connected to our looks and no matter what we do our looks are not quite ever good enough have worn grooves deep in our brains that have only deepened over the years.
And media culture is only growing. Women are inundated by 1000s of images a day telling us to get fitter, thinner and younger. And social media only makes matters worse. Hundreds of youtube videos coach women of all ages how to trick to camera or alter images that are posted on Facebook, Google and Instagram. We think these images are real when they are not.
Ignoring the war won’t make it go away. Despite the cultural myth, women don’t “grow out” of body shame. In fact, for many women, the fight against our body actually gets worse as we age. I’ve talked to countless women in their 40s who say, “I was finally getting a handle on accepting my body, when all this stuff about age came up.”
Another diet or self-help program won’t stop the war either. To tell you the truth, I’m sick of people trying to sell me. “Try my four-step process for the best life you can dream.” It’s just another marketing trick that got us here in the first place. Life is dynamic sweetheart. So is our mind and body. There is no silver bullet. So stop trying to sell me another product couched in the framework that even here I still need to improve. That’s the whole issue to begin with. The belief that we are flawed and need to be fixed.
So how do we find peace? Not the peace we think will come when we are 10 pounds lighter or my arms/thighs/belly/skin is somehow different. But the peace we can find right now.
While I certainly don’t have any silver bullets, I think there is a spiral path that can lead us there. One filled with acceptance, allowing, appreciation and affection. One where we count our small acts of power every day. The acts that nourish and support our bodies, minds and lives as well as other women.
The Chinese have a saying, “When sleeping women wake, mountains move.” And there is no time like the present. The world is a mess. Imagine if every woman everywhere stopped the war with her body; reclaimed her time, attention, power, focus and money; and redirected it to her passions, joys and heart’s desires. Imagine if we held hands and did it together? I think those mountains might start to move, and probably without a bunch of heavy lifting.