Why You Should Respect Your Body Even if You Don’t Love It
Did your body change during the last year? If you’re anything like me, all the stress of a pandemic and quarantine helped pack on the pounds in the past year, and that can be a really hard issue to deal with.
This isn’t going to be a lovey-dovey read about how all bodies are beautiful. They are – but that’s not what we’re exploring here today. Today, we’re going to talk about how to love and accept your body despite its flaws.
Listen, we all have certain issues with our bodies. After all, no one body is perfect. But just because your body may have flaws, doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve your unconditional love.
I’ve personally faced my own struggles dealing with changes in my body over the past year, and it can be extremely easy to get so far down in the dumps that all I want to do is reach for more ice cream.
But those feelings aren’t going to change anything, and they’re not going to lead to any sort of breakthrough. The breakthrough – the revolution we’re inviting you to embark on – is radical self-acceptance and self-love in the face of imperfection.
So, if you’re ready to let go of that self-effacing negativity and step into the world of self-love, keep reading!
Loving Your Body Vs. Respecting Your Body
One thing that the body positivity movement has suggested is loving your body and all its flaws. And while this is a lovely notion, it’s completely normal not to love each and every part of your body. Bodies can be strange, they can have flaws, they can have deformities. And in a society that seems to appreciate appearances over nearly anything else, that can be hard to accept.
But there’s a big difference between respecting your body and being in love with it. You might not love your hips, but you can respect that they provide stability and ease of motion. You don’t have to love your nose, but you can respect the fact that it allows you to breathe, take in beautiful fragrances, and filter out allergens.
Are you starting to see the difference?
Self-love is ineffective without self-respect, and believe it or not, self-respect will lead to having more love for yourself and your body – so the next time you find yourself hating on a certain part of your body, try thinking about what it provides for you and adds to your overall wellbeing.
Read next: How to Love Your Body Right Now
What is Body Respect?
While it’s a bit silly to expect someone to love each and everything about their bodies, it’s really the only message we’ve been given in recent years as a counter to diet culture. It seems that the two options are working ourselves to the bone over diet and exercise to achieve the “perfect” or “ideal” body, or simply waking up and deciding you love each and everything about it.
Both options seem extreme.
But there’s a big difference between body love and body respect. And the fact of the matter is that it can be nearly impossible to take proper care of an organism that you don’t respect. That means when you don’t practice respect towards your body, you’re probably not feeding it properly or working it out, stretching your limbs, or allowing yourself to fully relax.
Your body might not look like you want it to look every single day, but it’s still performing near-miraculous feats day in and day out. It’s a complicated system, it’s both fragile and powerful, and that, in itself, is beautiful.
Here are a few examples of practicing body respect:
- Allowing yourself to eat when hungry.
- Finding a balance between healthy, nutritious foods and cravings.
- Being kind and compassionate to yourself.
- Finding a fun way to move your body that brings you joy and relaxation.
- Taking a day of rest when you feel exhausted.
- Dressing in clothing that brings you comfort and happiness.
Once you’ve started practicing respect for your body, you’ll be on your way to radical self-acceptance.
One movement that counters body positivity is radical self-acceptance. This is the practice of accepting yourself, fully, no matter what your body looks like.
This movement suggests that one flaw involved in body positivity is the narrative that “all bodies are beautiful.” While this movement isn’t suggesting that all bodies aren’t beautiful, it is suggesting that attaching a value judgement like beauty to your body is one of the problems contributing to our obsession with looks.
Radical self-acceptance suggests that it doesn’t matter if a body has beauty, it still has value. It still deserves respect and love and acceptance.
TikTok user @pondpajamas, whose real name is Alice, explains the concept of radical self-acceptance beautifully:
“I’m not body positive, I’m radical self-acceptance, and this is why: The idea of body-positive is that all bodies are beautiful, which is not true. All bodies are valid, and there should not be any emphasis placed on beauty in order to feel worth…
Saying that all bodies are beautiful doesn’t dismantle beauty, it actually just places more emphasis on beauty itself and makes it sound like you have to be beautiful in order to be worth something, which isn’t true. Ugly and beautiful should be like neutral terms, it shouldn’t matter what you look like at all. Worth is not determined by your appearance.”
What an incredible idea, right? No matter what we look like, we deserve love, acceptance, and respect.
As Alice goes on to say, “I accept myself radically, no matter what I look like.”
Imagine if we all adopted that motto.
Practice Respecting Your Body
Sure, some days you might not feel so hot. Some days you might be bloated or too tired to workout. Some days you might feel beautiful, like the hot stuff you are. But each and every day, regardless of how you’re feeling about your body, it still deserves your respect.
And learning to respect and accept your body is the first step towards loving it.
What miracles has your body performed today?
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