I Hate Body Image Campaigns

Written by: Gracie who is a friend, spiritual and recovery warrior, and contributing writer to those at Unpolished Journey.

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Don’t think about the color purple.

Don’t think about the color purple.

Don’t think about the color purple.

Ok…Ready…What are you thinking about?

Maybe…the color…purple??

The media is slowly beginning to recognize society’s call for equal representation of body types and images that are real and untouched.  Certain individuals and campaigns are shouting for media to display men and women who love and accept their bodies just as they are.  Many of us want to see the diversity in hopes that we can better begin to accept our own shapes, freckles, curves and uniqueness.  I absolutely agree that media is extremely damaging and the images currently on display idealize a very specific body type and look which makes it extremely difficult for individuals to accept their body exactly as it is.  However are we missing something in the body image movement?  Are we again distracted by the physical body when the real appreciation and beauty is something at a much deeper level?

Accept your body.

Embrace your pudge.

Love those wrinkles and that cellulite.

Don’t get me wrong, these statements can be very empowering and campaigns that focus on loving a round belly, thick thighs or maybe flat butt, longer torso, etc. are trying to get into consumers heads to break the cycle of negative talk that may have come about in relation to the perfect images that do not mirror what we all see in the mirror.  I have often felt empowered by these statements that challenge me to love my body exactly as it is in this moment, even when I don’t have a flat stomach and my thighs chafe creating holes on the inseams of all my leggings.  I know that I have leaned on these statements that encourage me to embrace all of me.  However I also know that these statements and approach to body image still shine the light on the body.  These movements and campaigns are still labeling parts of the body like “pudge, squish, or flab”.  These statements are still reinforcing some of the negativity because if society tells us cellulite is bad but a campaign tells us to embrace cellulite….I am still aware that I am desperately trying to embrace it because I know that I hate it BECAUSE I was told it was bad in the first place.

Don’t think about your cellulite.

Don’t think about your cellulite.

Don’t think about your cellulite.

OK….What are you thinking about??

You’re still thinking about your body, aren’t you?

I would propose a challenge.  Maybe the real body image work needs to be focused on the soul.  So instead of telling you to ignore you flab, not think about your flab, and forget about your flab.  Instead I will tell you to focus your attention on something else.

How is your soul?

What is the state of your heart?

Where do you want to travel?

Whose day will you make today?

What if body image campaigns worked to move the body to the back burner?  What if as a society we stopped focusing on the body all together?  Stopped focusing on shaming it and stopped focusing on fighting like hell to accept it.  What if instead of going to personal trainers and weight watchers meetings we went camping and took guitar lessons?  What if we found hobbies, friends, and moments of spiritual growth.  What if we read a memoir instead of a 500 recipes under 500 calories cookbook?  This is not at all to shame anyone who goes to a personal trainer or attends weight watchers.  If an individual needs to reach certain health goals, that is completely up to that individual and their medical team.  Health should be defined on an individual level with support of a team.  However still in the journey of health it is easy to get lost and consumed with the end result, new image and develop tunnel vision for the perfect body.

I know the struggle for me is still constant.  I often have to choose between the actions that I know aid in consuming my mind with thoughts of my body and actions that enrich my spirit and feed my soul.  I want a new body image campaign that focuses on embracing our stories, experiences and individual souls.  I want a body image campaign that is radically calling individuals to look beyond the body into what really makes them unique and makes their presence on this Earth vital.  I believe that each of us has a distinct purpose and I would hate for that purpose to fade into the background because the individual was focusing on their body, trying to perfect, tone, and manipulate.  Think about the yearnings of your soul and ask yourself if your actions are leading you closer to those yearning or if your actions are aligning with false yearnings that only detract and distract.  I know that I personally loose connection and passion with my true yearning when I spend all of my days on a treadmill or making a new diet plan.  Suddenly my true purpose fades as I become consumed with a desire to perfect a body that inevitably will continue changing as I age, whether I like it or not.  And because our bodies age, this process to perfect can truly consume our entire life.

SO….What would you chase if you weren’t chasing the ideal body?

What makes your spirit sing?

What about your story makes you strong?

Are you compassionate, funny, smart, creative, logical, organized, free-spirited, friendly, shy?

If you could quit your job now and do anything in the world, what would it be?

What makes you, you?

Are you thinking about your body now??

I hope not.

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