I’m not worried about what to wear.
I’m not worried about how to disguise or hide my body.
I’m confident about wearing shorts in public.
I’m excited to shop for and wear a swimsuit this summer.
I’ve been seeing this type of language a lot as we enter the summer months. And they’re great words, aren’t they? Worry-free, confident, excited? All centered around our bodies?
Here’s the problem I’m seeing. Most of these statements are paired with people losing weight, working out, etc. They are not general feelings of acceptance or positivity coming from people with bodies of all shapes, sizes, and abilities. They are conditional positions of relief centered around bodies that have become more conventionally acceptable.
Two things, friends.
- If you have recently made changes in your life and are celebrating new health and energy levels, I applaud you. Honestly, let me be the first to be your cheerleader! Take care of your beautiful body, because boy does she deserve it. Hydrate her well, nourish her, let her move in ways that make her feel strong and unstoppable because your body is one of the few constants that stays with you. Partner with her as a teammate, and conquer the worlds in front of you.
- Please take hold of that worry-free, confident, excited perspective of your body regardless of how she looks. When we assign self-esteem and our pride in our bodies to the “after” pictures (or even the improvement pictures), we inadvertently imply that our “before” bodies should feel anxious about how they look (is everyone noting my weight?). She should figure out ways to hide the imperfections (maybe I can stand so no one will notice). She should feel insecure about wearing shorts (I’ve got spider veins, I haven’t tanned, haven’t shaved, and whoa, the cellulite and stretch marks). She should not be excited to think about a swimsuit (I don’t have that “summer body,” I’ll wear a cover-up, for now, start working out, and maybe by NEXT summer…).
I don’t believe any woman celebrating her triumphs is saying others should feel bad about themselves, but that’s what the language suggests. Furthermore, what would happen to the confident woman if her body changed back? Would she still love herself?
If you have a body, she is a summer body.
I don’t care how she looks. She should wear tank tops and shorts when she is hot. She should swim freely and not have to make that weird sprint to a towel to cover up when she emerges from the water. And she should never have to consider tricks to make herself unnoticeable, undetected.
That’s a lot easier said than done, right? I mean, I can try to believe that about myself, but am I confident enough to walk it out in front of a world that may disagree? For me, it has taken a complete shift in perspective.
“Positive body image isn’t believing your body looks good; it is believing your body IS good, regardless of how it looks.” –Dr. Lindsay Kite and Dr. Lexie Kite, More Than a Body
If body positivity or acceptance is difficult for you for ANY reason, read that again. If your body doesn’t look the way you think it should, reread it. This quote barely scratches the surface of the movement these women are championing, but it is a start. It is a beginning to climb out of the culture of SELF-objectification and experience confidence, self-esteem, and acceptance that can exist with every single physical iteration of yourself.
Personally, I am not entering one of my “fit” summers. While I am re-focusing ways to care for her, feed her, move her with strength, I am not writing this from an “after” perspective. (In fact, the whole point is to abandon the obsession with before/after. We change, we grow, we roller coaster.)
But I am not worried about what to wear this summer.
I am not thinking about how to disguise or hide my body.
I am confident about wearing shorts in public.
I am excited to shop for and wear a swimsuit.
So let’s jump off that before—after spectrum entirely. Live into your body as she is today. Our bodies are good. So, so good. They’ve been with us our whole lives, and they aren’t going anywhere. The Kite Doctors and sisters (mentioned above) encourage everyone to embrace your body “as an instrument, not an ornament.” These bodies are merely the vessels by which we experience all of the beauty, tragedy, and gift that is life. Regardless of fitness, regardless of ability, regardless of illnesses, “you will always benefit from understanding your body from the inside instead of perceiving and evaluating it from the outside.”
As we talk about health and food and everything, speak life to yourself and your sisters, mamas.