How one woman found yoga, eased her inner hunger, and started loving herself. Follow Kimber as she shares her journey to loving her body, the joys and sorrows of yoga teaching, and venturing into the wilderness of writing and publishing.

Friday, June 1, 2012

You Are Not an Object

Yesterday I got to catch up with an old friend, sharing our lives over the last ten years and savoring each other’s presence.  I told her about the Love Your Body work that’s been my passion for several years now, and she mentioned that she’s never had any problems with body image.  Ever.  At all.  It’s completely mysterious to her. 
For those of us who have struggled with body-image issues our whole lives, people (especially women) who have always felt ease in their bodies are the proverbial “unicorns”… something magical you’ve heard of but never seen.  
Yup.  They exist.  My life is full of body-image conversations and every once in a while I meet a woman who says, “What you’re doing sounds cool, but it’s not relevant to me.  I’ve never disliked my body.  I don’t entirely understand why anyone would dislike their body.”
My theory about my unicorn friends, the big difference between them and me, is simple: they don’t objectify themselves. 
They don’t look at themselves from someone else’s point of view.  They don’t take on that critical, judgmental, outside point of view that’s impossible to measure up to.  They don’t compare themselves to airbrushed images on billboards and magazines.  They don’t judge their bodies based on their appearance, but appreciate their bodies’ health and well-being.  We can learn a lot from our unicorn friends. 
Unicorns have problems too.  They judge themselves about their performance at work, they have divorces, anxiety attacks, lose their keys, get lost in the big city, and take wrong turns down winding country roads. 
That’s life, right?  It turns out life is hard enough without treating ourselves like a vase at a yard sale, pointing out every flaw and crack every time we look in the mirror. 
We end up treating ourselves like a potential buyer evaluating a horse.  “Hmm… rounded shoulders, ribs can be felt but not seen, fat deposits along the withers…this pony’s been overfed.”  It’s exhausting to treat ourselves this way all the time.  It can ruin your whole day.  Maybe even your whole life.
You are not a pony. Your body is not for sale.  No one has the right to judge or evaluate it.  You are an amazing human being, so much more than the reflection in the mirror could ever show.
You don’t have to treat yourself like an object ever again.
But once we’re caught in the habit of objectifying ourselves, how do we stop? 
1.      Notice when you’re looking at yourself like an object. You gotta catch yourself doing it.  Look in the mirror and notice the first critical thought that comes to mind.
2.      Ask yourself: Says who?  Whose thought is that?  Whose point of view is that?  Who am I comparing myself to and why? 
3.      Remind yourself: this body is my friend, my home, my life’s companion.  It makes everything in my life possible.  Judgments are not welcome or necessary.  My body is not an object.  It’s a vibrant living being that deserves  love. 
4.      Feel your body from the inside.  Is it happy?  Is it enjoying life?  This is what truly matters.

Your body is not for the consumption of our consumer culture.  It’s for your enjoyment of life and the pursuit of your dreams. 
Once you’ve given up treating your body like an object, all that energy you used to spend giving yourself a hard time, you can now use to write your book, start that business you always wanted to try out, and finally finish the art project you’ve been dabbling with for years. 
You’ll still have problems.  But you’ll have a lot more energy to work with them. 

Love Your Body Blog Part 69