Who cares if you love your body? Why is it important?
These are good questions. After all, loving your body isn't on par with feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, or fostering orphans. It's not like we're ending violence against women.
Or are we?When we beat ourselves up for not being physically "perfect," however we define it, we are committing violence: violence against ourselves. And because we're all connected, we are also committing violence against other women: our peers, our daughters, and our granddaughters.
For years, I avoided my body hatred, justifying my behavior with, "It only affects me." But it doesn't just affect me; it affects everyone. In her book Like Mother, Like Daughter, Debra Waterhouse writes about how a mother's negative relationship with her body can be passed down to her daughter. But this pattern doesn't just occur between mothers and daughters: society as a whole is bequeathing a negative body culture to the next generation.
I look at my daughters, one a beautiful little girl; the other, a beautiful young woman on the cusp of adolescence. They are fortunate, and blessed to live in modern times. Their foremothers have paved the way for them, clearing the obstacles that hindered earlier generations: They can vote, they have a voice, they can own property. They will witness the first woman in the Oval Office.
So what will prevent my girls from pursuing their dreams? If they buy the lie that they have to be superthin and youthful to be beautiful, that they have to loathe and control and try to shape their female form into something unnaturally unattainable, that will hold them back. The other freedoms won't matter, if they aren't free in their mind: free to love and accept themselves.
I have the power to change that. You do, too. That is why, as a woman, loving your body is some of the most important work that you can do.
It's important because if it remains unaddressed, it will sabotage anything else you try to do. It's scary to put yourself out on a limb, to offer your pearls to the world, and hope that it appreciates their value. It's even scarier if your confidence is undermined, if you're thinking of all the ways your body doesn't measure up.
It's important because you can't separate your body from the other parts of yourself. You can't love yourself while you hate your body.
It's important because you can't be free and clear to love and accept others unconditionally, if you're not loving and accepting towards yourself.
It's important because you can't be the woman, daughter, mother, wife, friend, or woman you wish to be, if you're consumed about thoughts about your body.
It's important because hating your body keeps you stuck. It keeps you in bondage, just as surely as violence, sexism, and injustice does.
It's important because the world needs our sacred femininity.
It's important because we can't fix the "big" problems - war, hatred, genocide, or violence - until we first heal these issues internally, in our battle with ourselves. They come from the same soil. And those problems can't, and won't, get our full attention if we're not healed of our own, personal hatred, first.
In loving your body, you release love into the world. You release courage. You release forgiveness. You release compassion. You release acceptance.
That sounds like important work to me. Love your body; love yourself. Love your body; change the world. Love your body: it matters.