During the depths of an eating disorder, the idea of “body love” and “body acceptance” seem like a foreign language you never have a hope of understanding yourself. They seem impossible, abstract. But is it possible? Can you do the work? Can you accept your body and love yourself? Or is this unrealistic no matter where your recovery journey is?
Unrealistic body expectations can be overcome
From the moment we are born, the thin ideal is pushed down our throats. We’re constantly told that, to be loved and accepted we have to look a certain way, to be healthy our body has to be a specific shape, and to be considered attractive we have to be a particular size. These unrealistic body expectations are both unavoidable and very damaging. In fact, they’re a huge contributor to eating disorders in many of us.
However, a significant focus in recovery is learning and accepting the fact that these expectations are simply not a reality for most of us – nor should they be! We work to accept our bodies as they are in recovery. We reject the notion that we should all strive to be a certain size, weight, or shape. Instead, we shift our focus to nourish our bodies and learning to accept our bodies as they are. OwnEach person has different needs. We discover the idea that we’re all healthy at different shapes and sizes – and that may mean that for some of us, it’s actually healthier to occupy a larger body than it is a smaller one.
Basically, we recognise that there’s no “one way” to look that will make you happy, loveable, or satisfied. Deeper work is needed to feel this way about yourself.
This is how we can work towards body acceptance. Body acceptance is simply the ability to accept our bodies for all that they do and what we can do. Instead of constantly criticizing our bodies, we learn to be grateful.
But is this the same as “body love”?
Is body-love a reality?
For many people, “body love” implies an unwavering, unconditional, constant feeling of love, appreciation and acceptance towards our bodies. It suggests that we should feel unconditional love towards our bodies seven days a week, 24 hours a.m. It’s the idea that we can look in a mirror, and feel complete joy at the image staring back at us.
Is it possible to imagine ever feeling this way? It is impossible to imagine anyone ever feeling this way, even those who have never had to deal with their body image, disordered eating, and those who consider themselves fully healed.
It is impossible to love your body completely. We’re all human – moments of self-doubt, poor body image days, and moments of feeling uncomfortable in our own skin are (unfortunately) part of being human.
This is why the pressure to love our bodies can be so overwhelming. If we’re forever aiming for something we can never achieve, we can feel like a failure whenever we feel scrutiny or doubt towards our bodies. It’s a way of setting yourself up for disappointment, and another unrealistic expectation to burden yourself with.
What are you waiting for? ShouldWhat should you be aiming at?
Let’s work towards a strong middle ground: body neutrality. Body neutrality is all about accepting you’ll have both good and bad days, and releasing expectations of your body and how you feel about it. You don’t have to be madly, sickeningly in love with yourself, and you also don’t need to loathe your own appearance! It’s simply letting yourself “be”, as you Are.
In this way, it’s far more authentic and achievable than body love and acceptance. You’re not ignoring your imperfections or putting pressure on yourself to love your body every day, but you areHonoring your body, showing gratitude and caring for it, and nurturing it without judgement.
You can shift your focus away from your body and instead, live a happy, fulfilled life. It’s about devoting your time and energy to your values, passions, hobbies – in short, you don’t have to waste time stressing over or hating on your body, giving you So You have more potential to live your life!
A great goal is to be body neutral. It’s So empowering when you reach a point in your recovery journey where you can release expectations you hold over yourself. Letting go of the need to eat, exercise, look or act “perfectly” is so It’s liberating and invigorating. That is the whole point of body neutrality!
Always remember it’s completely normal and okay to have moments of poor body image! You’re only human! It is important to recognize that these low moments will pass and not to judge yourself for having them. Instead of being quick to criticise and condemn yourself, and decide you’ve jumped 10 steps back in your road to recovery, show yourself some kindness and compassion, and know that it will pass! And when it does, you’re free to turn your attention to the things in your life that bring you joy, fulfilment and freedom – more so than any body shape or size ever could.