Yesterday, as Lily and I prepared for our podcast on body love (yep, Shapes We Make is launching a podcast series!) we made sure to emphasize that body love is a practice. Not a project. Not a pursuit of perfection.
Reflecting on our conversation afterward inspired me to evaluate my present practices. Over the last few months, I have found myself directing anxiety about the future toward frustration with my body. I wanted it to do better, look better, be better. I thought of my body as an "it" and not as an essential part of who I am: my first home, my protective shell.
I slip back into that way of being less and less. Meditation helps. Cooking helps. Forgiving myself for when I fumble helps. But what also helps, I am coming to learn, is giving myself permission to be a "mess." Body love conjures visions of virtuous foods and hot yoga sessions and that is all well and good. It's also important, however, to respect the times when what our body wants--when what we want-- is to plunk on the couch, binge watch"Jane the Virgin," and eat two quesadillas post-dinner. By judging myself so harshly for chilling, I was turning body love into an internal instrument of unkindness. I'm wallowing in TV, I'd think, because I'm too afraid to confront my heartbreak head on. I should be reading! I should be writing! I should be putting myself out there! Although I was, and still am, doing those "good" things, I felt much freer when I decided that treating my body as a temple meant making room for the "bad." Scratch that: I feel freer when I practice body love through shades of grey. No good. No bad. Just is.