What do I believe about Body Image? Interesting question, especially following a day writing about authenticity.
I have two realities. Intellectually, in my head, there are LOTS of things I can say about body image. Our society focuses too much on how people look on the outside, our culture is killing our kids with unattainable images of perfection, our body shape and size is largely inherited, every person carries a divine imprint which defines their beauty from the inside out, helping my girls be healthy and active is much more important than focusing on what size they are, there is great creativity and power in being a woman with everything that encompasses.
But my FELT reality is often very different. I have never liked my body. I have always felt fat. The taped messages from long ago tell me that I can never be successful because I am not tall and thin. Being a woman makes me somehow less. And giving and receiving pleasure through my body makes me bad. Everything I've accomplished has been in spite of instead of with the help of my body. People are judging me based on my body instead of for who I really am. I need to make myself as invisible as possible.
I don't believe all of these things, all of the time. But they are messages that the gremlin voices can replay easily. I have to work HARD to counteract these messages. It has taken lots of time and lots of work to see my body as a sacred vessel - something to be honored. I've struggled mightily to embrace my sexuality as something positive and holy. I need to remind myself often about the gifts I have to bring from within so that I can be present and real.
My body is beautiful. It has carried me well through the first half of my life. It has nurtured and nourished two beautiful children. It gives me the ability to interact with and experience the world and the people around me. It's capable of giving someone else a shoulder to lean on, a lap to snuggle in, or a hug to say "I see you and you are loved." It is the conduit to pleasurable, sensual, intimate relationship. It contains and carries numinous energy.
But I have to remind myself of all of that regularly, or I slip too easily into the old felt reality. And I have to work hard to minimize the negative and accentuate the positive messages for my daughters so their tapes play healthier messages inside their hearts and souls.
What's real? What's authentic? All of it I guess, the constant push and pull and struggle. Sometimes I feel like I'm making progress, but it's a long, slow climb. But, I trust my body to carry me forward as I go.