Body acceptance

I changed my tag from “fat acceptance” to “body acceptance” tonight. I feel that better reflects my personal struggle because while fat is a part of it, sometimes it has nothing to do with it.

Take yesterday for example. My previous entry on here was talking about how great kickboxing was after using my inhaler and how fantastic I felt. Then I woke up yesterday with a killer sore throat and a body that was so sore I could barely walk without limping. I stayed in bed and slept all day. Well, not quite – I dropped my car off at the mechanic in the morning and picked it up in the afternoon, but other than that, I was lying in bed in my pajamas, my heat pad clasped to my chest to try to ward off the chills that kept shaking my body from head to toe, and sleeping. All day.

I still went to martial arts. After missing all last week with my stomach flu / IBS attack / not-quite-sure-but-didn’t-like-it, I didn’t feel like I could afford to miss another class. I didn’t accept that I was sick and not capable of performing in class. So I sucked it up and I went.

Last night was the night that Sensei decided to give us a pretty killer class, and I failed rather spectacularly. We did drills like lying on one’s back with one’s legs 6 inches off the floor, and I couldn’t do it. My legs kept falling, my back hurt, and my abs just were not able to keep my legs up. My feet would hit the floor, I would bend my knees to give my back a split-second break, and then try again. Repeat that over and over and over.

Next drill – holding a push-up position. Again, my back was hurting. My wrist was hurting. My entire body was hurting from the kickboxing class. I kept almost falling over so I modified the position to take the strain off my wrist but it didn’t help. I would fall down, rest for a second, then get back up. And repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I was the highest ranking person on the floor and I couldn’t do the drills that everyone else seemed to be doing with ease. I was almost crying because I was so frustrated with my body.

Acceptance? There was none. I disregarded the fact that I was recovering from a hard kickboxing class after being in bed for a week in a fairly debilitating condition. (Anyone who has had ongoing diarrhoea knows what I’m talking about.) I disregarded the fact that I had spent the whole day in bed, feeling miserable and sleeping. I disregarded the fact that sometimes I have more to give and sometimes less but that doesn’t mean that I am any less for it. Instead, I felt like a failure.

It’s hard to write this because I try really hard to be accepting of my body. I try to love myself for who I am, flaws and quirks and all. I was bullied as a kid and made fun of for certain physical characteristics but I try to not let that affect my self esteem. I am not and never will be thin enough for our society to consider me attractive but I consider myself to be attractive. I will never have a six-pack stomach but I work hard at strengthening my core so that my body can function at its best. I can look at myself in the mirror and see a beautiful body that belongs to me.

And yet, I can consider myself a failure because I cannot always achieve the same level of physical endurance. That hurts. That’s hard. I don’t know how to get around that. The feeling doesn’t last – as soon as I can get some distance and perspective, I realize the truth of the situation. But in the moment, I have thoughts like, “I hate this body.” And it’s that thought in the moment that I have to work on. This is the only body I’ve got. It is not separate from me. Me – that is my body and my mind together.

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4 Responses to Body acceptance

  1. Lori says:

    “I am not and never will be thin enough for our society to consider me attractive but I consider myself to be attractive.”

    I call bullshit.

    This is what the “fat acceptance” people *need* you to think to justify the fact that most people do not care of themselves. And most people don’t realize that our bodies have not evolved to deal with the fact that we don’t have to hunt for our food, run from wild animals nor suffer seasonal famines or food shortages.

    (Evolutionary biology… it’s very, very cool.)

    Sure, you’re never going to model for Vogue… but do you really want to do that anyway?

    The true test of attractiveness is not about the number on the scale or the double or single digits of your dress size. It’s about being healthy, making healthy choices 90% of the time and taking the time to move your body to make up for the fact that urban humans do not get enough exercise and food is too plentiful 100% of the time.

    I don’t own a scale for a reason, I know that I have to work harder when my favourite jeans aren’t fitting right, and I have come to accept that exercise doesn’t have to mean sweating like a pig or doing stuff I don’t enjoy.

    You are beautiful because you take care of yourself. And I’ll take your curves over some stick with pointy edges any day of the week. And truth be told, so will most men and women.

    Don’t let the fat acceptance people ruin your self-esteem like the “thin is in” people, either.

  2. erin says:

    I’m a little confused by your comment … or rather, I think you may be confused by what I meant.

    Fat acceptance is all about being healthy no matter your size. Realizing that the ideal that society puts out there is unrealistic for many women. That beauty and attractiveness comes in many shapes and sizes.

    However, our society pounds us with the fact that small is beautiful and healthy, and if you are not small … then you must not be beautiful or healthy. Advertising, using size 10 or 12 models as plus size (which makes them smaller than me – not exactly what *I* would call ‘plus’), stores only making sizes in up to 16 if you’re lucky, and even then not having the same selection as someone of a smaller size. It is reinforced over and over again in our society that small is better. And yet, despite that, and this was before I ever found fat acceptance, I have thought of myself as attractive. I have loved my curves. I have thought that I look my best when I’m naked (and from what I know and read, most women do not feel the same about themselves).

    My point was that I love my body. I do have self esteem, although society attempts to drag me down, and in certain past experiences of mine attempts were made to drag me down. I love my body; I love myself. *And yet* I can still have moments when I think to myself, “I am a failure. I hate my body.” To me, that means I still have work to do with personal body acceptance.

    I disagree with your view on fat acceptance but I agree with the rest of your comment. I just think you may have misinterpreted what I was getting at, because you’re basically arguing my point for me. Which I appreciate. 🙂

  3. Lori says:

    My earlier comment was about your comment that you’ll never be society’s idea of attractive, and that is what I called bullshit over, not the rest of your post.

    My argument, and I do have one, is that the fat acceptance people think that “society” equates “thin” with “beauty”. Society doesn’t do that. The fat acceptance people want and need you to think that. The fat acceptance people need you to think that all bodies are beautiful no matter what. That is not true. If you are more than 20 lbs overweight you are not eating right and you are not exercising enough for your body. If you are carrying several inches of fat around your midsection, you are not healthy. This is an evolutionary principle, not a beauty one.

    The human body is designed, has EVOLVED, to be 10 to 20 lbs “overweight”. Not thirty, not fifty, but 10 to 20 lbs of optimal weight. This is a failsafe in case of future famine. Its part of natural selection.

    No one who is 5’6″ and 200 lbs is healthy. Not if its muscle, not if its fat. It’s not healthy. The fat acceptance people want you to think that is, but it’s not on several fundamental health levels.

    The fat acceptance movement needs women to be angry at “society” rather than empowering them to get their asses moving and moving in a way that works with the evolutionary changes the human body has made.

    Women need to maintain over 10% body fat to assure fertility and hormonal balance. That is not a mistake. That’s natural selection. However, over 20% body fat can decrease your fertility and send your hormones out of balance. That isn’t a mistake either.

    Its not easy in a society where we don’t move around enough and food is very plentiful, but I have to do that.

    I’m not saying that BMI is the indicator. I’m not saying that there aren’t people who don’t hate and threaten fat people. I’m just saying that society isn’t talking about a couple of extra pounds when it says disparaging things about “fat” people. But the fat acceptance people don’t want you to think about that. They want you to think there is a vast conspiracy against anyone who isn’t a size 0.

    But there isn’t one. And saying that you’ll never be beautiful in society’s eyes is copping to the bullshit that there is one.

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