Updated: Aug 17
If you're hanging around these parts, you're probably a bit of a feminist lefty with some anti-capitalist leanings. You probably try to work to be anti-racist and believe with all of your heart that everyone should feel welcome. You're smart; you see how people being excluded does all an injustice. And yet… You just can't seem to apply this stuff to yourself. And to your body image.
Maybe you notice you've replaced the word “diet” with the word “health”. Maybe you find your inner voice parroting European beauty standards, and even though you actively believe you should speak up, you oftentimes find yourself trying to turn it down because you don't want to make a fuss.
One of the reasons, I believe, that we stifle our need away from our belief systems is that we separate our mind from our body. We believe our values are like an internal compass but that our bodies are a problem to be solved.
On a fundamental level, I believe that we forget that our minds are actually part of our bodies.
When we separate the two, it is much easier to feel disconnected from our physicality and look at how it could be an instrument of productivity or a vessel for validation (and sometimes both).
But what if you were able to connect the two? How would you feel treat yourself differently if you applied these things that you wish for others to yourself?
I believe this is a key missing piece in how we create systematic change in the world.
Because if we do not apply this work to ourselves, kindness and compassion and respect for bodies becomes somebody else's responsibility.
We cannot move forward into a world where everyone is treated with more kindness without you. It's not going to be a world where there are only certain people who are a particular dress size, the ones who've gone to the gym, or the ones who don't age at all. Or the ones who can manage to operate in a neurotypical way, whatever it is you think your body is doing wrong. We're not doing all of this work to recreate the systematic structures so that we keep some people excluded. We're trying to build better. It is not about equality for everyone except you. Or people who happened to look a bit like you. If it does not include the way you treat yourself, it’s not working.
My dream of what a fairer, more just, more gentle world looks like is one where no one gets left behind. And if that is part of your core belief system too, then you're going to need to start practising how to include yourself, all of yourself: body and mind, into that vision too.