We live in a culture that loves instant gratification. We want something, and we want it now. We want to be pretty, we want to be smart, and oh, do we want to be skinny. We search for the program that will be the quick fix, we search for the pill that will quash our hunger, we search for the 30 day challenge that will make our fat fall off, we fail and we fail and we keep searching, wondering when we’ll find that quick fix to make us skinny tomorrow.
And there’s a whole business created around this search. It isn’t much of a search, really, because the solutions zip passed us on the sides of buses frequently and we’re all too willing to ‘give it a go’. When we fail, we blame the program or the pill or the challenge, and while the blame can lay there, I want to propose that there’s something else we need to deal with. I want to put the blame aside, put the failure aside and propose that we deal with who we are, not what we look like. I propose that we deal with what our bodies can do, rather than what our body’s shape is. I propose that we stop shaming ourselves into being skinny, and start celebrating life.
Your body is amazing. John Mayer was right – your body is a fricking wonderland. The processes that occur daily in your body are spectacular. You move around and its a result of these signals from your brain effectively communicating with your limbs to make them move. Have you considered that? Have you considered that your clumsy attempts at running are a damn miracle? Your heart races because it is working hard to pump blood, while your brain sends signals, while your lungs rush to get air and keep it moving. All this is happening, and while you run, all you can think is, “I hope this makes me skinny”?
You are amazing. Every bit of you. Every stretch mark and scar, and every blemish is amazing. Those stretch marks tell a story – perhaps they tell a story of the children you gave birth to, or perhaps they tell a story of the times when you used food to cope with struggles, and you survived that struggle. There’s a Thrice song that says, “every scar is a bridge to someone’s broken heart” and I wholeheartedly believe that. Your scars, when you dare to speak of them or reveal them, allow someone else to speak. Those faded lines from self-harm let someone say, “me too.” That bump on your nose from when you fell as a child lets someone else laugh at their own clumsiness too.
We need to work on our health as a society. We’re obese and lazy, as a broad generalisation, but we don’t need to work on our health so we can be skinny. We don’t need to lose weight so we can fit into the image society presents of the ideal person. We need to fight to be healthy so that we can live well, so that we can love well, and so that these bodies we’ve been given can be used as best as they can.
Have you ever run? Have you ever felt the rush of endorphins when you push yourself? Have you ever felt the surge of satisfaction when you exceed a goal you’d set, however big or small it was? It’s bliss.
Have you ever lifted? Have you stood with a weight in your hand, the metal of the bar cool against your skin, and performed a simple deadlift? Have you ever added more weight to that bar, because your body could take it? It’s bliss.
Have you ever picked up a child and swung them in the air? Have you heard their giggle of delight as you played with them? Have you ever considered that these bodies that we so often despise are what allow us such delights? That giggle, it’s bliss.
Have you ever done a handstand? Have you held your body up with your arms shaking and your heart racing? Have you tumbled to the ground when you lose your balanced, with a thud and a laugh? Have you taken a risk and trusted your weak, frail, oversized body to hold you and seen it stay steady? It’s bliss.
We live in a culture that loves instant gratification. We so often seek to be skinny fast, but I propose that we find gratification in living. I propose that we find gratification in what we gain – life and love and friendship and hope and laughter, rather than the weight we lose.
It’s better that way.