I gave myself shoulder kisses for the first time in awhile. I thanked my body for keeping me safe and being of service to me even when I take it for granted. I appreciated my body for being the supporting character in my life — the vital piece that makes all things possible but rarely gets acknowledged. I laid in bed and didn’t play back in my mind the way I looked in the mirror. I didn’t take up precious real estate in my brain fixating on the loose skin that serves as a reminder of all that I’ve put my body through in the name of being “beautiful.” The truth is, the pressure to love my curves and stretch marks has long weighed heavy on me, so much so that for survival I’ve had to take that option out of the equation. In that moment, I was neutral — and not by nature, by intention. I realized how much more I could accomplish and how much harder I could love if I didn’t spend so much time thinking about everything I wasn’t and may never be. I slept soundly.
The next day during my habitual morning scroll I got trapped in an instagram ad for low carb bagels. I even added them to my cart before remembering that it was not an accident that the ad came up on my feed. I was a target. My past behavior, search history and activity indicated to the algorithm that that ad could bait me. Twelve hours from my epiphany and diet culture almost had me again. Almost tricked me into thinking this time I was in control and that catering to their version of health was my idea. I felt shame and like a fraud — it was a harsh reminder I’m not quite on the other side, and a rude awakening that I may never be.
The juxtaposition of these two moments (just hours apart) and the frequency in which I have them is why I never tell my story. How can I talk about overcoming disordered eating and promote body neutrality when I still am on the path to the pot of gold? It’s not for lack of want or effort. Some days I don’t think about my body at all and those days feel like victories. But some days it’s a miracle if I can go a few hours. Instead of feeling guilty about that I’m trying to focus on the truth: judging my progress and placement on this journey is the antithesis of what this process is all about. I’m learning to accept where I am today and what I can do because of the body i have and the ways in which I choose to nurture it.
Let me be clear — this doesn’t mean I can’t have goals for myself or make changes in my life. I am not saying I should be complacent— anyone who has met me knows I could never be. I just want my mind to be freed from the prison of calorie counting, overexercising and other people’s ideas of beauty. I want my value to not be tied to what I look like but instead my heart and mind and the many things that I can and do contribute to this world. I want movement to be a release and not a daily punishment — a way of paying rent so that others allow us to remain worthy and relevant. I want to undo everything that has been done to me — to us — by those who set the standards for what health and happiness look like.
I’m not there, I’m not at the other side, I’m not yet holding that pot of gold. But I have moments of neutrality and periods of respecting my body that get longer and longer. Mostly, I know I’m not alone in the phase that I’m in.
Last week, we put out a call for clients who have not seen their bodies represented in fitness to send in videos of them be.coming. I, who had never been a demo, who had never once put myself on tape knew the time had come to face fears built up by other people’s voices and my internalized fat phobia. We’ve asked you to be vulnerable — in fact, we’ve built this entire company on the act of being vulnerable, and now it’s my turn. I’m taking a seat at the table because i’ve gotten to the point where staying in the shadows and watching people feel alone is so much harder. If any of this rings true to you — if you want neutrality so badly but have yet to make it your full reality, let me be the one to tell you that you’re not alone. Reach out and join me in this process. Join me in doing something that society doesn’t want us to, and will attempt to knock us off the path any opportunity it gets. Let’s do it together.
I gave myself shoulder kisses for the first time in awhile and maybe it won’t happen again tomorrow, but it will happen again and that’s all the hope I need.
with love and endless support,