Why body peace matters in an unpeaceful world
Every day, the news is full of yet another layer of heartbreak. So many kind, loving hearts are grieving around the world. Because of this, I’ve been second-guessing whether to write what I’d planned. I worried it might be petty to talk about making peace with our bodies at a time when violence seems to be everywhere we turn, and our action feels urgent. Then I attended a webinar led by the powerful Sonya Renee Taylor, the founder of The Body Is Not An Apology, and I was reminded why this work is still so important. As she puts it, “global, radical, unapologetic self love…translates to radical human love and action in service toward a more just, equitable and compassionate world." Now, more than ever, is a time to care about yourself. Now is the time to let go of the burden of self disrespect and reclaim the emotional real estate your inner critic has been hogging. Now is the time to build the strength and steadiness of self loyalty, so you can share your heart and your service without crumbling. Befriending all parts of yourself goes hand-in-hand with loving other people. In light of that, here is a body image action step!
In case you missed it, the last body image action step was detoxing from online body shame.
Celebrate body diversity.
When you’re out in the world, acknowledge the inherent value in all humans. Really see others and acknowledge that we’re all unconditionally valuable. Approach this practice with the intention of appreciating people without comparison or judgment. You might even silently repeat a mantra to them. “You are valuable.” Or “You deserve respect and love.” “You are worthy of care and acceptance.” A word of support: if you enter this practice with your whole heart, shame may bubble up as you begin to realize that you feel biased toward some people based on their bodies. Please have patience and compassion for yourself in these moments. For all of your life, you may have been told in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that physical appearance is the most important thing about us, and that beauty comes in one narrow form. That completely subjective image of beauty favors some people and excludes others based on gender, age, race, weight, sexuality, disability, socioeconomic status, burden of pain, and national origin. We weren’t born judging our own or each other’s bodies. We were conditioned. And although that conditioning causes unnecessary pain, we can change course. Rewiring your brain to celebrate the full spectrum of body diversity takes effort, but this is the kind of inner work that can bolster acceptance, deepen relationships, and help lift communities. Witness the light in others, and notice the same light in yourself.