Last night a friend of mine, let's call her Jane, confided in me some body-confidence issues she is having. We had plans to go out for a girl's night at the movies, when some guy friends from work invited us over to hang out, grill, and use the hot tub. You had me at hot tub!
When I suggested this alternate plan to Jane, she politely explained that she would rather stick with our original plan of the movie. The reason: she didn’t feel comfortable putting on a swimsuit in front of guys. She used phrases like “I am disgusted with myself”, “I just seriously can’t stand looking at the fat rolls” and “looking at my body makes me mad”.
Imagine a stranger walking up to you and saying that they are disgusted with Jane because of her fat rolls. The stranger tells you that looking at Jane’s body makes them mad. The stranger says Jane has no right to walk around in front of members of the opposite sex in a bathing suit and should remain hidden. The stranger says Jane should feel very self-conscious of herself. I would punch that stranger in the face and tell them to f*** off. But I can’t do that because Jane is not being told these things by a stranger, her crude comments about her body come from within. It is so terribly frustrating and hard to hear a dear friend talk about herself in such a way when I love each and every part of her so deeply and only want for her to love herself just as much.
My heart broke a little bit last night.
This is one reason why functional fitness is such an important part of my philosophy. Our bodies are capable of so many things. Walking, running, jumping, lifting, throwing, climbing, stretching, sitting, standing, dancing, thinking, feeling, being. To reduce one's body to it's aesthetic does not do justice to the human form. Yes, we all want to look sexy. Yes, we all want to feel confident. But I have found that I love my body the most when I focus on getting faster, or being stronger, or finding mobility, or moving safely in more complex ways. It was only when I started to focus on what my body could do rather than what it looked like, that it started to actually look like what I had always wanted!
I think the first step to happiness with our bodies is to stop hating them for what they look like, and to start loving them for what they can do.
What can your body do that you are thankful for today?