We Need To Love Our Bodies More

When we talk about loving our bodies, the conversation usually begins and ends with image — our curves and pockets and pouches. That’s not surprising, given that weight, shape, and height are the pieces of us that other people can see, comment on, chastise. It’s what’s reflected in and controlled by the media, it’s what we’re told is important; it’s what’s okay to obsess over because there’s no denying your appearance exists and has to be acknowledged.

But man, our bodies are so much more than surface area and image. There’s a lot more of us to accept and love than what’s happening on the outside. You’ll know this the first time your body does something “wrong,” the first time it gives you a responsibility you didn’t sign up for: whether that’s asthma or cancer or diabetes, you will become acutely aware that your body isn’t just a shell that exists in pursuit of outer beauty.

And this is why we need to love our bodies more — because when that happens, when you’re thrown a curveball (whether this curveball disables you physically or alters the way society views and treats you — or both) there are two ways to react. The first way is unavoidable — you’ll initially feel betrayed. Your body is broken armor, a burden that cannot be lifted, a trap. And this is a terrible way to feel — that your own body is working against you — because technically, you are trapped. You do not get another body when the first one fails you. For better or worse, you’re in it together for the long haul.

But after that, you can try your best to love your body. Even when your body surprises you with something you weren’t prepared for, remember that your body is amazing. There are more living organisms on the skin of a human being than there are humans on earth. The surface area of a lung is equal to a tennis court. Your aorta is almost the diameter of a garden hose, and it takes ten capillaries to equal one strand of human hair. When your body deviates from the plan, when all you want is to control it, remember all of the pulleys and levers and systems formed within you that you have no idea about, remember if keeping yourself alive were something you actually had to control, you’d have no idea where to begin. The fact that you are alive and existing is a f-cking miracle.

Loving your body is about so much more than loving what you look like naked. It’s about accepting what’s already happened to it and laying a healthy foundation for yourself so that you might cope better with what’s handed to you in the future. If you haven’t yet had the experience of leaving a doctor’s office with your resolve ripped to shreds, count yourself lucky and take some time to think about how anomalous it is that you’ve come this far sans permanent damage. And if you have? Well you know that anger, fear, and depression are part of the deal, but also that your body — autonomous enigma that it is — is going to do what it’s going to do, and you can either focus on the handful of things it’s done wrong, or the millions of tiny things it’s doing right, like allowing you to digest these words and form a reaction to them.

Healthy or not, loving your body is an absolute necessary step toward loving yourself and if you’re lucky, loving someone else. You will never meet a more stubborn, unpredictable, complex, elusive, beautiful mate as your body — once you love it, you can love anything. TC Mark

image – Shutterstock

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  • esg

    yawn, hippie bullshit

    • http://bridgesallover.wordpress.com bridgesallover

      yawn, haters hating. at least the author can use actual language to express her “hippie” ideology instead of vulgarities.

    • http://jenniferalyce.wordpress.com jenniferalyce

      Seriously, get over yourself.

    • http://www.visakanv.com Visakan V

      yawn, anonymous, non-contributing zero

      • HOH

        like

  • http://www.visakanv.com Visakan V

    I love you. You are thoughtful and articulate, and you belie a depth and spirituality that is hard to find. I need more people in my life like you. Please keep writing; it matters.

  • http://www.itmakesmestronger.com/2012/06/we-need-to-love-our-bodies-more/ Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com

    […] Thought Catalog » Life Add a comment […]

  • http://twitter.com/toriahouston Tori Houston (@toriahouston)

    This >> “Loving your body is about so much more than loving what you look like naked. It’s about accepting what’s already happened to it and laying a healthy foundation for yourself so that you might cope better with what’s handed to you in the future.” Take note, America.

  • Sarah

    Beautifully written, as usual, and very poignant! It’s easy to forget all the amazing things that our bodies do for us. Thank you for this reminder.

  • PiratesLife4Me

    I am now very worried that Stephanie is struggling with some sort of debilitating illness. I don’t know you, but are you ok??

    Beautiful article though. I have been struggling with weight for years, and sometimes my desire to be happy with how I look overshadows my desire to avoid the health risks that are associated with being overweight. That is just as much a priority for me: I want to be healthy, breathe well, run fast enough to escape zombies, and everything else that comes with being “in shape”. The flat tummy and thighs that stop touching are just an added bonus.

  • http://jenniferalyce.wordpress.com jenniferalyce

    I absolutely love this article. I get so hung up on loving my body superficially that I’ve never even thought about loving it down to the cells of my organs. Thanks for the reminder, and I hope all is well with you.

  • Jena

    Thank you so much for this.

  • Megan

    Beautiful.

  • Anindita

    Thank you for realizing me that I got millions of cells inside my body waiting to be loved. And also for the last paragraph….. it amazed me, a really really beautiful paragraph :)

  • surin

    I feel like you need to go into that doctor’s room and tell us what you heard there. Without that, this ia fluff piece.

    (For the record your point still comes across. But.)

  • http://twitter.com/vickstahs Vicky Nguyen (@vickstahs)

    Jennifer Wright: “You know, it’s funny, generally when men refer to their exes as “crazy” what I keep hearing is “she had emotions, and I did not like that.”
    I think maybe there is some confusion on what crazy is.
    Dudes of the world – if you do not return your girlfriend’s calls for a week, and she shows up at your door yelling, she is not crazy. She is angry at you. There’s a difference. “Crazy’ would be if you did not return her calls for a week and she decided she was a lighthouse.
    That’s not to say that women don’t refer to ex-boyfriends as crazy as well, but when women say that, the subtext is generally “he beat up a cop. He’s in jail now.” Ashley just referred to Ted Nugent as “crazy” and I snapped, “what do you mean by that?” and she replied “he just threatened to kill Obama. The secret service is following up.”
    What men mean when they talk about their “crazy” ex-girlfriend is often that she was someone who cried a lot, or texted too often, or had an eating disorder, or wanted too much/too little sex, or generally felt anything beyond the realm of emotionally undemanding agreement. That does not make these women crazy. That makes those women human beings, who have flaws, and emotional weak spots. However, deciding that any behavior that he does not like must be insane– well, that does make a man a jerk.
    And when men do this on a regular basis, remember that, if you are a women, you are not the exception. You are not so cool and fabulous and levelheaded that they will totally get where you are coming from when you show emotions other than “pleasant agreement.”
    When men say “most women are crazy, but not you, you’re so cool” the subtext is not, “I love you, be the mother to my children.” The subtext is “do not step out of line, here.” If you get close enough to the men who say things like this, eventually, you will do something that they do not find pleasant. They will decide you are crazy, because this is something they have already decided about women in general.”

    Sorry for the tl;dr comment, but I immediately thought of that article when I read this one. thanks for the piece; us females and feminist-ryan-gosling fans really appreciate it.

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  • http://kelseburns.wordpress.com kelseburns

    haunting. i loved this

  • http://saskvoice.com/2012/06/fw-stops-ebulletin-june-22-2012/ FW: STOPS eBulletin – June 22, 2012 | Sask Voice

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