I’ve written quite a lot about body image on this blog. I’ve contemplated holiday related issues, bodies on the beach, and last year I had my own summer body rebellion. Confidence has always been of interest to me, like how depression can affect it, or how you’re never really “done” with developing and understanding it. Sometimes I simply feel we need to talk; enough is enough. Some things could use more daylight, less taboo, like having thighs that rub together, or how it feels to receive the complicated “compliment” of “you look so slim!“. Thinking about all that was an important part of my own understanding of body image in general, and my own in particular. Once again, though, I sense things changing.
My personal journey of body image has gone through three stages so far. The first was when I wasn’t really aware of the concept, and it felt like a personal thing, my own private issue. The second, when I started reading more body positive blogs, and read magazines and watched TV with an increasingly critical eye. This was also when I wanted to pick up my battle ax and slice down anything that felt like diets, thinspiration, fitspiration. It was still a personal issue, but I didn’t feel alone anymore, nor did I feel as helpless or vulnerable as I had when I was younger.
Now I feel a shift to a third way of thinking. It’s both very personal and very public, but the two are growing more separate. The “public” area (and please notice the “l” in there) has to do with, say, how I think the clothing sizes and shapes available nowadays is an utter joke, and a terrible one at that. It deals with the monotonous, one-sided picture of bodies the media give us. It’s why I’ll never photoshop my body shape for blog pictures, why you’ll never read anything here about diets or how to look slimmer or more curvy or more fit, or less wrinkled or hairy or dimpled or skinny or short or fat or squishy or muscular. I’ll always have the opinion that you can be healthy at every size, and that the way fat people are discriminated against is atrocious. This is my public side of things, the energy I direct out towards the world.
For myself, though, I want to spend less time being angry. Just a brief shopping trip can have me shaking with rage over the unfairness of it all, and the damage that is being done to all of us. That anger is justified and right, but I want to save it for when I can actually use it for something. In my private life I want to change my focus, to deprogram my brain from the idea that my body is the most important thing about me. Wonderfully enough, I’ve come so far now that when it’s just me and my body and my thoughts, we get along very well, most of the time. I don’t avoid mirrors, or avoid seeing myself naked. Sometimes I even like that better than when I’m dressed, as it’s usually badly fitting clothes that frustrate me, not the way my body looks on its own.
Somewhere along the line I got the idea that in order to have a positive body image, I should work on loving my body more, more, always more. If I wanted to be a good role model in person, or a blogger with positive influence, I needed to spend a lot of time and energy on that more. I don’t want that more anymore.
I want to shift my focus towards things that aren’t about how I look. I want to improve my writing. I want to refresh the French I learned in high school, and maybe start writing songs again. Learning a completely new skill would be cool, something outside my comfort zone. I’d like to find techniques for feeling less anxious and worried. Making new friends would be magical (if anyone in Oslo are feeling the same way, do let me know!). I want to understand people better, how their minds and feelings work. I want to bake more cake.
All those things will take time and energy (and I’m already low on that due to possibly-CFS/ME). So I figure, as my body and I are such good friends now, we can focus on doing great things together, not constantly analyzing our relationship and reassuring each other that we’re fine. We are fine. She’s not a project I have to work on, not in the “get more fit and healthy” way, nor in the way of “you must absolutely love every single thing about your body and remind yourself of it all the time”. Why spend time fixing it when it isn’t broken? There’s a whole world of things to experience, after all. I don’t want to miss it because I’m busy staring into the mirror.