Body acceptance sounds pretty touchy feely, doesn’t it? Maaaybe even a little cheesy? But boy oh boy, it’s so much more powerful than that. It’s like a force field that protects you from bullshit.
And guys…there’s so much bullshit out there.
If body acceptance were easy, everyone would rocking it. But it takes work, introspection, and practice to develop a strong sense of self in a society that seems to want to tear us all down. It takes staring down the status quo and saying NOPE. Not for me. Not anymore.
Accepting your body doesn’t mean you are necessarily thrilled with it — that may take time, or come and go, or never really happen. For me, body acceptance has never been about loving myself in a bathing suit or taking selfies. My body acceptance feels more like “Well, it is what it is. And I’m really okay with that.”
It all boils down to separating your worth as a person from your size, appearance, weight, and eating habits. And that’s where you can start forming a line of defense between yourself and diet culture.
Your body is where you live, and this is your security system.
For those of us who are particularly vulnerable to our society’s obsession with size, it is absolutely imperative to develop an armor of body acceptance to keep the bullshit at bay.
Diet culture doesn’t just make us feel sad and inadequate — it drives us to do really unhealthy and even dangerous things. From the time I was 11 or 12 years old, I would’ve done anything to lose weight. Anything. I tried diet pills that made my heart race. I made myself vomit despite all the health problems I knew it could cause. I learned about tapeworms and thought “Aw man…where do I get me one of those?”
In the pursuit of short-term smallness, I would have happily sacrificed my long-term health. That’s the kind of logic that diet culture encourages.
So what do you do when you’re having a perfectly lovely day, minding your own business and living your life, then BOOM: it feels like diet culture comes straight for your deepest insecurities? Throw up that force field you’ve been working on, and let the bullshit bounce right off.
Maybe you’re enjoying a day at the beach with silly gossip magazines, when the constant reporting on celebrity thinness leaves you feeling suddenly inadequate. A carefree day can careen into “Enough. Diet starts Monday.” OR you can throw up your force field and say “Enough. Other people’s bodies have no bearing on mine, and this magazine is making me feel like I am somehow inferior.” Force fields up, silly magazines in the trash.
Or maybe you’re having lunch with coworkers when someone insults their own body and starts plotting the next diet. Immediately all the old diet propaganda comes rushing back. “Well maybe my life would be improved if only I were smaller…” NOPE! Don’t even point a toe onto that slippery slope. Time to put up that force field instead. Just because someone else has not come around to accepting their body does not mean you need to devalue yours too.
You can’t diet away diet culture, but you can dare to defy it. It takes serious guts to walk through this world without apologizing for the crime of having a body. That’s not after-school special stuff. That’s superhero stuff.